Europeans have to change their mindset to take advantage of the knowledge economy, says UN expert

April 27, 2005

Brussels, 26 Apr 2005

The next 15 years will produce such drastic changes in the global economy that Europe will need to re-invent itself if it wants to avoid withering and being 'eaten up' by Chindia (China-India), which is considered by most to be the likely axis of the future global economy, says Jerome C. Glenn, co-author of the 'State of the Future' report and Director of the Millennium project at the American Council for the United Nations University.

According to Mr Glenn, an expert in futures research, IQ is becoming the competitive advantage in the global knowledge economy. And in a world that is putting increasing pressure on the environment, Europe's knowledge of green technologies, policies and ethics should be marketed to the world.

Speaking to CORDIS News, Mr Glenn also called on older Europeans to aim for markets rather than jobs. With a declining working population and an ever-increasing ageing society, Europe must encourage its ageing population to 'create its own employment via web-based businesses from teaching to tour guide', he explained.

'There is a huge market for the role of older citizens in the knowledge economy,' said Mr Glenn. The only thing is that it is in a different way from what we conventionally imagine. Older people can make a living from their unique knowledge. All it takes is a paradigm shift. They need to realise they do not need to look for a job but create their own instead.'

Internet is re-distributing the means of production, continued Mr Glenn, and Europe must learn to use cost-free means of production such as Google, e-mail and websites more efficiently. 'These are cheap. You don't have to own them, you don't have to maintain them, you just have to use them,' said Mr Glenn.

According to the author, older people should think in terms of being their own boss, make use of the possibilities offered by the Internet and become avatars (icon or representation of a user in a shared virtual reality), expert advisors or virtual tour-guides.

'Internet is the self-organising mechanism for the global brain and the emerging nervous system for conscious-technology by both design and self-organisation,' said Mr Glenn. 'In the future knowledge economy we are moving towards tele-education, tele-nations, tele-government, tele-volunteers, tele-medecine. Basically tele-everything and if it isn't tele, it will be tele-terminated,' he joked.

In a global economy, all areas are converging, Mr Glenn told CORDIS News. In the energy sector for example, demand will double and maybe triple in the next 50 years. Advances in nano and biotechnology will greatly improve efficiencies but more is needed. In response to this, Mr Glenn suggests the creation of a world energy organisation, potentially led by Europe, to pool talent and money from business, government and universities for high-risk, high pay-off research and development (R&D) for large-scale systems such as carbon sequestration and solar power satellites.

'Science and technology progresses too fast to regulate, yet their potential dangers are too big not to regulate on a global scale,' added Mr Glenn, pointing to another area where Europe could also play a role. Europe could be the initiator of a new global system, an international science and technology organisation, he suggested.

Finally, in order to become a counter weight to the US and China/India, Europe could lead global ethics discussions that are emerging via UN treaties, the Olympics, NGOs, ISOs and the media, concluded Mr Glenn. Topics include the ethical way to intervene in the affairs of a country that is endangering its or other people; the right to alter our genetic germ line so that future generations cannot inherit the potential to develop genetically related diseases or disabilities; and the right to genetically change ourselves and future generations into new species.

'In the future knowledge economy Europe does not have to become an expanding tourist Mecca living off its past, it can rise to the occasion and reinvent itself,' said Mr Glenn. To read in full the 'State of the Future' report, please visit: http:///www.acunu.org/millennium/sof2004. html

Or contact:
Jerome C. Glenn:
E-mail: jglenn@igc.org

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities
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