Humanity is setting some technological innovation’s targets, which were unbelievable just some years ago and which will probably be achieved by 2050. In facts, robotics is evolving very fast and nowadays some devices can work better than thousands manual workers.
Lin Wells, in his essay “Better Outcomes Through Radical Inclusion” gives us a very clear overview: «computers’ power increases every 18 months, in a year time, computers will process 100% more data; 900% in 5 years and 10,000% in 10 years».
Wells shows us that biotechnology is changing even faster, information, robotics and AI are getting omnipresent, nanotechnology is going to affect lots of commercial fields, from new materials to energy’s storage. Energy itself is changing a lot and is going to affect society – Bio, Robo, Info, Nano, Energy, BRINE in short.
Therefore, the great technological potential is moving on and must come to terms with growing people’s flows. What is going to happen then is anything but granted.
For example, just think about Nairobi’s slums. About Korogocho, where our charity started a school programme that has managed to support more than 2,500 children a year.
We remember the old school building, linked to the rest of the slum by a little wooden bridge, crossing Nairobi river, full of polluted water and rubbish.
Trying to make a comparison between the 10-year-ago situation and the present one, we realize that nothing has changed: the road is still dusty, the bridge still dangerous. Cars cannot go along it, because it’s too narrow and unstable, while extra-charged motorcycles cross it, driving among people walking – who in Kenya, as in the rest of the continent, never miss. At the side of the road life goes on slowly, with no big shocks: hundreds of children play in the middle of rubbish or in stagnant ponds, happy as only they can be; some women wash clothes with dirty water they take from ponds; other women try to sell some pieces of sugar cane, with fluctuating success; some others cook chapatti on the street and some street vendors sell vegetables, withered by humidity and heat. Men, sitting on houses’ makeshift steps, stare into the void, silent, as they were waiting for something.
These people know nothing about innovation: for ten years, they have been watching their life passing by without even knowing that elsewhere robotics and nanotechnology were changing the world. They don’t know that some elites dream of doubling their life expectancy, aiming to be 150 years old. They ignore that Google has already established investments, structures and artificial intelligence to reach this target.
This humanity doesn’t imagine that by 2050 African population will double and it won’t stop. It will keep on growing. They don’t know that all these new people, this future population will concentrate in slums, making them more unliveable.
To tell the truth, more than a year ago this situation was not clear, even to me. I thought, or better I hoped, that Africa would find its place in the globalised world, with some more investments in education and lots of young working-age people. I imagined that, by cries of “outsourcing!”, western companies – especially European ones – would be ready to move their productivity to African countries, pushed by the need to decrease the work’s costs, as they did some decades ago in eastern European and Asiatic countries. In Africa, the working force was ready, and it was strong and young. Education was improving, the situation was perfect, and Africa was ready to take its piece of the globalization cake.
But something was silently changing the game’s rules: robotics.