As this new globalization paradigm takes off, its limiting rate will likely be determined by the speed and efficiency with which developing nations embrace the profound structural transformations and policies needed to move their societies from pure consumers and beneficiaries of innovation produced by others
, to a stage in which they too can become true contributors in the process of generating cutting-edge knowledge and technologies.
Membership in such a radical new knowledge-based global society, however, will require profound changes in cultural and social traditions. This process will entail a deep rethinking of public policies and priorities, ranging from a massive investment in high-quality education and public health, efficient new technologies to produce renewable and clean energy to fuel rapidly expanding economies without further compromising the planet's health, and unorthodox urban development planning to accommodate the new lifestyle of knowledge-driven societies. Thus, if current societies accept the proposition that the mining, sculpting, validation and dissemination of innovative knowledge are likely to become the major economic driving forces in future leading economies, governments have to start enacting these new policies now. For once, developing countries will have to start increasing their current investments in science education, basic research and technological infrastructure, because the deployment of centers of R&D excellence and a large qualified workforce will be pivotal in the establishment of geographically distributed, domestic or international networks of collaboration that can help local communities become active players in the global knowledge economy.
As these policies take effect, some of the revenue generated by the translation of innovative research, produced in local centers of R&D excellence, into new products and services will have to be reinvested into further education initiatives and the development of strategic R&D infrastructure. This latter step will be vital for enhancing the ability of developing nations to generate abundant supplies of food, clean water, renewable sources of energy and to build general information technology resources to further promote the digital inclusion of their people and institutions in the global market. In this context, it should be stressed that new income from knowledge-based activities will also help developing nations provide for widespread basic educational programs, universal health care coverage, job retraining and overall improvement in the life and labor conditions of their societies.
In summary, what we envision is the replacement of the current "sweatshop" model of globalization with a paradigm in which developing nations become full protagonists in the process of international knowledge trade and economic growth and use the proceeds of this new source of revenue to finance the largest period of concurrent global education and social development ever seen in world history.
Building virtual bridges
Once this process starts unfolding, individual communities that opt to morph into true knowledge islands, like the one currently being built in the northeast of Brazil, will naturally seek the comfort and uplifting synergy of becoming associated with similar communities worldwide. Likely, the unleashing of such a self-organizing, distributed scientific-social transformation process will quickly grow far beyond current country borders and lead to the emergence of true global communities; virtual knowledge archipelagoes, in which multilateral, multidisciplinary collaborations among citizens without boundaries determine the creation of a distributed, knowledge-based economic system built, regulated and nurtured by the archipelagoes' own democratically chosen systems of governance.
If such a model of large-scale virtual scientific interaction and economic production succeeds in the long run, it could provide the structure upon which communities interacting through worldwide interdependent social and economic partnerships begin to shape a complete new political order, one that diminishes the role of traditional political boundaries and differences, while encouraging and strengthening synergistic relationships across diverse cultures around the globe.