Currently, the ELS-IINN is implementing the next phase of its paradigm to produce and disseminate innovative knowledge. By linking the activities of its state-of-the-art brain research institute to the creation of the first International Neurotechnology Industrial Park and a biofuel plant for producing biodiesel—a renewable fuel derived from a variety of tropical oilseeds cultivated in the Brazilian semiarid highlands by family farming cooperatives—AASDAP is aiming to create a self-sustainable business model to support the growth of the ELS-IINN Campus of the Brain and the community around it. The long-term goal of this massive scientific-social experiment is to create a model that can be replicated not only within many other locations in Brazil, but also in other developing nations in Latin America, Africa and Asia.
Having started to build a "knowledge island," we now intend to link it to a distributed knowledge archipelago. But how far can one take an idea, born in a little town in the Brazilian northeast? As the discussion below shows the answer is: far, very far indeed!
Driving forces for building a Knowledge Archipelago
The most recent wave of economic globalization—triggered by the mutually reinforcing cascade of events resulting from the opening of sizeable emergent markets along with the strategic decision made by multinational companies to outsource, primarily for cost-reducing purposes, not only their production facilities, but some of their operational and service-based activities to developing countries—has acquired revolutionary status, thanks to the unprecedented breakthroughs achieved by the information technology industry during the same period.
As a result of the widespread, seamless and virtually instantaneous means for information to be disseminated today, many developing nations have enhanced and diversified their economies by incorporating a range of innovative production technologies and good practice processes, while accumulating substantial revenues originating from service-based businesses at a pace that was simply unimaginable just a few years ago. Thus, by taking advantage of the coupling between massive business outsourcing and rapid information technology deployment, developing countries, such as India, China and Brazil have started to realize that this new economic model could, at long last, generate some of the significant wealth required to finance their massive social development needs.
Yet, according to prominent economists, such as Joseph Stiglitz, this last wave of globalization has failed to produce significant economic and social benefits for the vast majority of people living in the developing world. The world happens not to be flat after all. At least, not for the vast majority of those who live in its poorest and underdeveloped regions.
If exploited to its fullest capacity, however, it is conceivable that a radical and empowering combination of widespread knowledge dissemination—through massive education programs and strategic investments in scientific initiatives, and aimed at transforming the economies and social realities of developing nations—could lead to astounding outcomes. Indeed, this process could establish the basic initial conditions required for emergent nations to become, for the first time in history, key players in the assembly of a new global economic and political order; one in which significant worldwide economic growth would be attained without the classical colonial paradigm of domination, exploitation and environmental devastation that characterized previous incarnations of globalization pushes.
In its newest version, therefore, economic globalization could cease to be a simple, but very efficient, one-way highway for multinational corporations to reduce production costs and achieve higher profits. Instead, it could become a powerful global political tool for achieving a significant improvement in the life conditions of hundreds of millions of people through the massive distribution of the means to generate and consume knowledge. It could also lead the way for the emergence of a consensual model of cooperative global democratic governance; a system in which the pursuit of happiness becomes the undeniable right of all members of our species.