Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 7 No. 4 | Winter 1985 (Seattle) /// Issue 14 of 24 /// Master# 62 of 73

disaster, for America's new New Deal cannot be limited by America’s borders. If developed nations do not use the computer revolution to develop the four billion people of the Third World, America and Japan will also sink. Cutthroat competition, protectionism—it will be a no-win situation. The only way out of this economic impasse is to realize that both the United States and Japan need access to the entire world’s markets. But these markets must be developed—must become capable of innovation and growth—before they can be an outlet for the industrialized countries’ goods and services. If only in order to keep the Western and Japanese economies from sinking, we must brihg the computer revolution to the Third World. FB: Is it realistic to believe that Japan and the United States could choose cooperation and partnership instead of increasing confrontation? And if so, how? JJSS: The greatest threat to the world today, over and above the many grave threats we currently face—the nuclear arms race, political revolutions, religious fanaticism—is the possibility of an economic war between the two computer superpowers: Japan and America. If they should become brutal competitors for world supremacy in production (industry) and creativity (science), they would commit more and more of their resources to a bitter rivalry. And during the years of that struggle the rest of the world would become, automatically, a simple, passive, colonial battleground—and so remain underdeveloped, dependent, sterile. The two champions, by this short-sighted misuse of their creative resources, would bleed the world white—first other nations, then themselves. Every country would suffer. The other path is partnership. This is the realistic option. The United States and Japan, instead of fighting each other, must decide to associate their resources, their teqhnologies, their human capacities; together with Europe, they must lift the Third World to the necessary level of creativity by distributing computer tools and knowledge among the populations of the region. This is not another Marshall Plan of “aid,” it is an investment in human intelligence, of all races, in order to create partners and open new markets. In fact, it already happens in some regions of the world: in the Arabian Gulf, in China, in India, in parts of Africa. American and Japanese corporations work together with rapid and successful results—but still on a much too limited scale. The key to broad success—and here Europe should play a special role—is a clear setting of priorities: not to sell products first, not even to build plants, but first to train people to use the new technologies. Well-trained populations would automatically attract investment and profit by it; they would also be better equipped to develop their own prosperity, becoming active partners in world trade. Japan has accomplished this in whole regions of the Pacific, having helped to put Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and even the Philippines and Malaysia on the development path. There is an enormous amount that the United States and Japan together could achieve, in this manner, in every region. And they would be the first to benefit from it. All this is becoming self-evident. But we can't forget that, time after time, we have seen that nationalistic passions destroy all reason. What sets this new era apart, what makes optimism warranted, is that the world economy will depend less and less on limited material resources, which nations have traditionally fought each other to control. It will instead rely on the unlimited human resource—knowledge. It is this resource that the West must work to develop in the Third World. The West must put an end to the "march of folly" that historian Barbara Tuchman has so vividly described. FB: In speaking of another Marshall Plan, you seem to be advocating a notion similar to that associated with the Brandt Commission. But isn’t such a “transfer of wealth” concept politically impossible to implement, since it would require further cutbacks and increased austerity in the West over the next several years? JJSS: I’m advocating a transfer of knowledge—not wealth. Obviously, the citizens of Western nations would not vote to give up part of their limited riches and hand them to other countries. That would be a political impossibility, as well as a very futile way of aiding the Third World. W HAT SETS THIS NEW ERA APART, WHAT MAKES OPTIMISM WARRANTED, IS THAT THE WORLD ECONOMY WILL DEPEND LESS AND LESS ON LIMITED MATERIAL RESOURCES, WHICH NATIONS HAVE TRADITIONALLY FOUGHT EACH OTHER TO CONTROL. IT WILL INSTEAD RELY ON THE UNLIMITED HUMAN RESOURCE-KNOWLEDGE. The old Chinese adage applies here: “If you give me a fish, you nourish me for one day; if you teach me to fish, you nourish me for a lifetime.” The West should provide the Third World with the means to create more wealth for themselves so that they in turn will provide markets for Western goods and services. This is not charity. The goal is to establish a partnership—a “virtuous cycle” of creating and exchanging wealth. Computer technology can create this wealth much faster than the manufacturing age has. An agricultural computer- based system for the Third World, for example, begins by increasing the farmer’s understanding and skills, rather than first introducing machinery he cannot properly apply as has so often occurred in the past. Investment in such a system will reap significant short-term returns. Thus a “Computer Deal” would not be as long-term an investment as was Roosevelt’s program 50 years ago. Of course, such a new New Deal would require a certain amount of self-discipline in the West. We cannot continue to consume as we have and still channel resources into the computer revolution to create our future. But we don’t have to contemplate austerity for the rest of our lives. A slowdown in material consumption would need to last only for a limited period. It should be viewed as a necessary step that will prepare for a richer future—and a step that will prevent the far more devastating austerity that will strike us if we do not adequately prepare for the computer revolution. Fred Branfman: You have suggested elsewhere that the computer revolution could allow the Third World largely to bypass the Industrial Revolution and quickly attain parity with the West. How would you answer the often heard objection that Third World populations are not prepared to benefit from computer technology because they lack the necessary education and background? Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber: Of course they need education. But it is computer technology, not industrial plants, that can give them the education they need to develop and catch up with the West. Take Saudi Arabia, for instance. With its vast oil wealth it built two “Western” industrial cities, Janbu and Jhubail, as well as a vast network of steel, petrochemical, and other industrial plants. Essentially, it tried to turn itself into a copy of a Western industrialized country. But those plants are not competitive, and the Saudis have realized that their attempt at development was misguided. Two years ago the Saudi Arabian government asked the World Computer Center to cooperate with the Department of Computer Science at the University of Dhahran. Now they are starting a network of computer workshops throughout their country, in an attempt to make their population computer-literate. This is only one example. Our World Computer Center operates in over 20 countries—throughout Latin America, in African nations, in China and India. Our basic goal is to provide training. We help to establish networks of computer workshops in small communities around a nation. These centers have five or six personal computers each, and are linked to nationwide data banks. We hope that what we leave behind is a place where individuals can come to train themselves on the computers. This kind of work is spreading. Three years ago, President Belisario Betancur of Colombia established the Latin American Center for Computer Science and Human Resources —an organization parallel with our center in Paris. And he has set up computer literacy centers in every major city in Colombia. He even made computer literacy a major issue in his presidential campaign. I had an interesting experience in India five years ago that symbolizes the shift that is occurring. I met with Indira Gandhi, showed her a microprocessor that Robert Noyce of Intel had given me, and suggested that this would be the key to India’s future development. She felt more committed to large plants, she said, with many workers. Then she urged me to talk with her son Rajiv, who was not involved in politics but, as a pilot, more interested than she in such subjects. Today, Rajiv Gandhi, with the World Center, is promoting both computer literacy and joint work with Western universities. It is clear that a growing number of Third World leaders understand that the computer revolution is the key to their development into the next decade. FB: How exactly will the computer revolution aid development? For example, would computer literacy enable the Saudi people to produce goods they can’t produce now? What industrial or agricultural processes might this technology make more efficient? JJSS: The Saudis, quite legitimately, want to use their profits from oil to become a creative power in all sectors, on their own land and with their own population. This, let me state clearly, should in fact be the goal of each nation, of each region of the world. Autonomy has become a realistic and, I believe, noble goal. Can the Saudis achieve this goal? Yes—but only if they refrain from copying the old manufacturing model of the West. If they invest in shipyards, steel factories, automobile manufacturing, even petrochemical plants, of the present Western type, they will be heading toward bankruptcy. Any such attempt to compete with the automated, robotized, computerized production units of Asia is doomed from the outset. The Third World’s so-called “cheap manpower” is no match to robots and expert systems. So a Saudi investor should look to deploy the most up-to-date technology. For instance, the industrial plants of Saudi Arabia can hope to be successful only if they are automated. Saudi Arabia’s immense desert can become equal to the most fertile land in the world with computer-assisted agriculture. The Israelis have already proven this on their own desert sand: they even export tulips to Holland! The Saudi population can learn all the skills and master the sciences and technologies of the world like any American or European population, if they have the computer tools—hardware and software—for learning and training. And the magnificent but undermanned hospitals of Riyadl? and Dhahrdn urgently need computers and computerized expert systems in all areas. If not, these hospitals will become either useless or hopelessly expensive. FB: What kind of technology, then, are you advocating for the Third World? Should it really be state-of-the-art technology, or some less sophisticated form? JJSS: We hear this question everywhere. The answer cannot be the least bit ambiguous: state-of-the-art or nothing. 14 Clinton St. Quarterly