The information revolution mainly occured in english. Why? Because, being developed in the United States, english speakers had a head start on things before other countries and cultures could get involved. If anything, this has sealed English’s position as lingua franca, quite likely in perpetuity of the human race (is there any reason for another lingua franca to emerge, now that the entire world speaks english, via the web?)
However, the next technological revolutions aren’t necessarily going to happen in silicon valley. They are going to happen where the willpower and resources to make them happen exists. And, increasingly, that is overseas. Like, for instance, Russia, which is taking a diametrical tack to the U.S. in this regard. Take their new nanotechnology program, for example.
Rosnanotekh was set up last year with a budget of five billion dollars (3.2 billion euros), an unprecedented level of funding for Russian scientists starved of resources since the 1991 Soviet collapse.
The corporation aims to make the creations of Russian scientists commercially viable and, through co-financing, to promote private investment — the main source of technology funding in countries such as Japan and the United States.
With the removal of state funding after the Soviet collapse, hundreds of thousands of scientists emigrated to places such as Silicon Valley. The often remote research institutes they abandoned largely stagnated.
Russian officials are hoping all that will change. When Rosnanotekh was set up last year the then president, Vladimir Putin, said nanotechnology was “a key direction” for the country’s economy.
Another current buzzword is “technology clusters,” which the government hopes will be based around research institutes and universities to develop inventions and bring them to market more efficiently.
The global market for nanotechnology will be worth 2.9 trillion dollars by 2014, according to research data shown at the forum. Russia has signalled it wants to be up there with industry leaders such as the United States.
Up there with industry leaders, or biting at their heels? Brain power isn’t an anglosaxon invention, and, thanks to the equalizing power of information age, the thousands of scientists and entrepreneurs that would have been left farming the grandfather potato field (or rice paddy, or cow herd) will get the opportunity to enjoy the pleasures of the cubicle farm :>
And, overtaking won’t take much, with current policital candidates unafraidly (proudly?) admitting that they don’t know computers.