Genius Unlocked

Ian Goldin, Professor of Globalisation and Development and  the founding Director of the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford, has written a new book called Divided Nations: Why Global Governance Is Failing, And What We Can Do About It.  The book describes the failure of global governance, as we know it, to deal with the excesses of globalisation and suggests principles for improving the effectiveness of global action, looking at legitimacy, coverage and enforceability. (See FT review)

Of particular interest is Professor Goldin’s views on how advances in technologies have created ways to engage citizens in correcting the current deficits of legitimacy and effectiveness in governance:

“The period of hyper-connectivity over  the past two decades is also one I characterize as being ‘genius unlocked‘. This is in the  literal sense, in terms of the number of exceptionally smart people around the world who have become educated and connected for the first time, including from the slums of Sao Paolo, Soweto, Mumbai or Shanghai. I also mean genius unlocked in the figurative sense. Even though the overwhelming majority of individuals who are connected are not actually geniuses, the collective outcome of their collaboration can be radically different and as if a team f geniuses had applied themselves (page 136).”

In a Huffington Post article on Collective Genius published last year, Professor Goldin developed these insights further:

“Development is about the evolution of ideas. The more rapidly that ideas evolve, with older concepts replaced by better ideas, the more quickly societies advance. Whether it’s learning that washing one’s hands or smoking less improves health outcomes or how economies should be managed to ensure sustainable employment and growth, it is the sharing of ideas with others that can accelerate progress.”

“There is a random distribution of genius in the world, which now has exciting potential for release through population growth, rising literacy and growing connectivity. It is good news that the number of exceptionally talented people who are able to contribute to innovation and global problem-solving is growing rapidly. But it is not only the few with truly exceptional ability that can solve problems. We all have fragments of ability. Together, we can form teams which may be richer in their potential than single individuals. Diversity has been shown to foster dynamism in societies and innovation in ideas.”

According to Goldin, if only we knew…:

“… how to harness the extraordinary potential associated with the exponential growth in connectivity.”

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