Gilder explains 'zero-sum' problem
George Gilder -- celebrated author, economist, technology prognosticator and former Presidential speech writer -- kicked off the Senior Symposium's lectures series with a speech titled, "Why Technology Is Green and Ecology Isn't" Friday night in the Rockefeller Center.
Gilder started by throwing a question to the audience, "What do the war in Kosovo, global warming conference in Kyoto and social security crisis have in common?" He explained that all three are based on a "zero-sum" game theory, in which a gain for someone is a loss for others.
"It used to be thought that the only way you can improve your own position is to reduce the position of someone else," Gilder said.
But Gilder challenged the popular conception by illustrating the three examples. In Kosovo, 50 years of a communist regime has taught their people that the only way to get rich is to steal from someone else.
In case of the global warming conference, Gilder argued that many people think the environment is endangered by industrialization.
Gilder also said that popular arguments in the social security crisis which cite the loss of money ignore the wealth that is created in other sectors of the economy.
"When we try to solve problems, we get embroiled in the past and focus on our weaknesses," Gilder said, insisting that the next century will be a "positive sum" world, where gain is in the interest of others.
"A good fortune of others is in your interest," he said. "For example, if China prospers, the U.S. will benefit too."
He added technological progress can create great opportunities.
"Today, a piece of fiber thread can carry the whole global communication system of three or four years ago," he said.
He said television will be replaced by the internet in five years, and that TV will only be a display option for internet. He also added that microprocessor technology without a network was like "cars in a jungle," pointing out that, outside most college campuses, people are still using telephone lines for internet connection and that it is putting a restriction on to the economy.
Gilder began his career as a speech writer for several prominent politicians in the 1960s, then turned his focus to economics in the 1970s and pioneered the formulation of supply-side economics.
In the 1980s his research led him to examine entrepreneurism and most recently his work has been in the domain of computers and telecommunications. He is the founder of the Gilder Technology Group and is the founder and a regular contributor to Forbes ASAP technology periodical.
This year's Symposium is titled "The Turning Point: To the Edge and Beyond," the Symposium will feature distinguished speakers who, in pursuing excellence in their field -- whether it be the sciences, politics or media -- have challenged the status quo.