Because such concepts are currently only theoretical exercises, the key question at this juncture is: What is the roadmap for promoting knowledge archipelagoes capable of generating significant wealth and prosperity to the global society? Although this is a difficult question to answer at this moment, the first step should focus on the definition of comprehensive frameworks to design and build knowledge islands in developing nations.
One attractive idea is to build such islands around centers of research excellence, which are themselves surrounded by comprehensive educational and social projects, such as the Campus of the Brain project in Brazil. By building multiple outlets with which to communicate with society at large, the innovative nature of such knowledge islands can spill over its borders to reach out to impoverished neighboring communities. Self-sustainability of these research and social projects could be attained, at least in part, by the establishment of industrial research parks, tailored to suit the scientific vocation and aspirations of each of these communities, as the outermost layer of the knowledge island.
Such parks could house a broad spectrum of knowledge-driven business units, ranging from large, well established companies to small spin-offs and start-ups. This mixture would nurture a highly collaborative research and technology transfer environment in which companies share the infrastructure offered by the park to conduct large-scale industrial research services, promote technology development and the creation of new knowledge-based products. The central goal of this approach would be to create a highly diversified portfolio of economic activities that generate the wealth required to maintain the research and social-inclusion missions of the knowledge island. Once a few such enclaves become established, one could move to the next phase of the process: the integration of geographically distributed knowledge islands into global knowledge archipelagoes.
The investment required for such projects is considerable, though. Certainly, such efforts require the involvement of large multidisciplinary consortiums, lengthy negotiations with countries and significant fundraising. There is, however, a much faster, cheaper and potentially disruptive way to introduce the concept of knowledge archipelagoes worldwide and to prove its worthiness. That is, to create internet-based tools that allow communities worldwide to establish their own "domain-based knowledge archipelagoes." The emergence of thousands of such virtual knowledge archipelagoes, built around a particular theme or interest (for example, brain research, biofuels, environmental science) could provide the empirical social support, not to mention considerable revenue, for the development of true "four-dimensional knowledge archipelagoes"—those that involve networking real physical cities (with their 3-D spatial dimensions) through cyberspace (the new fourth-dimension frontier of urban development).
Whether knowledge archipelagoes will ever be established in the future as an economically feasible new scientific-social paradigm remains to be seen. Right now, the hope is that starting the discussion of such a concept can, at the very least, remind us that never before in the history of our species have the future prospects of individual and collective happiness, widespread human prosperity and the health of our environment been so obviously intertwined. Moreover, never before have we had the necessary accumulated knowledge and technological tools to support the design and implementation of a global model of self-sustainable economic growth that promotes widespread social inclusion worldwide.
Thus, by freeing science and knowledge from the isolated walls of our universities and taking it to the most remote corners of the world, we have the chance of triggering the greatest wave of social transformation ever witnessed.