It’s 3,000 BC, and Steve Jobs has to build an iPhone. Since Jobs says “we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” He would have to summon future genius ghosts of Egyptians to invent the first alphabet, wait thousands of years for Phoenicians, Greek and Romans to improve it to what we have today. Along the way summon ghosts of Indians and Arabs to develop the current numeric system, wait for the invention of paper and ink by Egyptians and Chinese, invention of Algebra, and calculus by Persians, Arabs, Indians, and Europeans, Italians to invent electricity, Russians, and English to invent/improve the periodic table, Einstein to invent E=MC2, several cultures to develop and perfect mining technology, the German and to invent the first programming languages, the English and Americans to invent the first computer and Internet, and millions of scientific, social, business, advertising, agricultural and economic inventions in between.
A core feature of this infinite goldmine of knowledge is that every new invention builds on a previous one from everywhere in the world. It’s probably the case that we would still be hunter-gatherers if we didn’t cooperate on a global scale.
So, compared to the time it took to accumulate this knowledge, Steve Jobs would have died around 20 days before reaching his dream. But within less than 5 years he was able to harness the civilisation and knowledge that a ‘global society’ built over 5,000 years to build a billion-dollar product and company.
This is the hidden little dirty secret of our current knowledge economy. Businesses forget that without the 5,000-year goldmine of knowledge generated by the global society, they wouldn’t build today’s advanced products and services and certainly wouldn’t be worth billions.
So, for businesses to appropriate this knowledge, generate wealth and centralise it is to hold society hostage to the very knowledge it helped create.
A bug in the markets has blinded buyers and sellers into believing that the only actor or investor in the value creation process is the business or entrepreneur. Yet there can’t be for example an iPhone, Coke, etc without planet, and society.
That we give businesses wealth incentives to innovate, governments wealth incentive to govern, and deny society wealth incentives to cooperate and planet wealth incentives to sustain us is the mother of all injustices in the world. The current monetization system delivers full ownership and control of wealth to self-interested businesses and governments.
Like businesses, governments, planet and society invest in wealth creation, why do they settle for donations and aid?