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Schwab out of touch on digital divide

A reader says Klaus Schwab fails to understand that what works well in advanced nations does not always apply in undeveloped countries, or in countries with different constraints.


Schwab out of touch on digital divide

In response to the July 17 column by Klaus Schwab, "The digital divide: Ignore it at your own risk":

In this presentation by Klaus Schwab, I fear that he is seriously out of touch with the economic divide.

Much as Michael Powell has pointed out, divides exist everywhere. There is a divide between nations that are able to pay back their World Bank loans and those nations that are unable to. There is a divide between nations that have abundant natural resources and those that don't. There is a leadership divide, an education divide, etc., ad nauseam.

For newspapers, telephones, television and, in some cases, health care, nobody made the effort that Schwab is advocating for digital technology. This is not something that can be shoved down the throats of every nation and every human on the planet. It is something that must be worked for. Those who desire it must afford it, and they must create their own benefit from digital technology.

In this statement, Schwab says it all: "'s about how to expand access to information and communication technologies to promote social and economic development." What he fails to understand is that what works well in advanced and developed nations, such as the Internet in North America, does not always apply in undeveloped countries, or in countries that have different geographical, national, religious or economic constraints.

Witness countries where the Internet is severely handicapped or illegal. Witness countries that don't have electricity, telephones or infrastructure to support such technology.

By the way, the "empowerment" provided by such new technologies does not always exist. Witness the dot-com meltdown in the United States. How does Schwab propose to make such technologies work elsewhere when the biggest users fail?

And look at why dot-coms failed: Marketing wanted to control the medium, usurp data at their whim, and profit by doing things that are considered illegal in other venues. Remember, wherever something like the Internet brings success, there are the greedy that come right behind and steal it just as fast. Microsoft is a clear example in this country with its form of innovation. So are the crooks with scams, phony credit card deals and pornography, plus the Russian-based hackers making unrelenting attacks on financial institutions.

The Internet represents the key to what is known in socialism circles as the ability to implement Skinner's Box--the device that trains people to be a puppet of whoever is controlling the content. Coupling "new technologies for economic development and social good" are classic lines in an age-old struggle to influence and control the masses.

Technologies such as the Internet must overcome the downside first. Let the rest of the world make their own decisions.

Ken Kashmarek
Eldridge, Iowa