SAN FRANCISCO -- Former vice president Al Gore is an optimist. He also has a unique view into ways technology will shape the future as a member of Apple’s board of directors and chairman of both Generation Investment Management and The Climate Reality Project.
"I don’t think we are in a dark era. I think we’re in an era filled with unprecedented challenges but I am an optimist in overcoming those challenges," Gore said at Connect 2016, the Cross-Pacific Mobile Internet Conference sponsored by Chinese company Cheetah Mobile. "But we have to communicate with one another and make intelligent decisions."
Al Gore speaking at Connect 2016.
Collaboration is already well underway, with the COP21 UN climate conference and economic partnerships between the United States and China driving the trend. As a result, tech -- and particularly mobile -- startups are living in a world of possibilities where connections are easier and the value of the market is growing exponentially.
"These underlying technological trends are creating an ever-larger set of commercial opportunities," Gore continued, adding that the warming relationship between China and the U.S. is important for continued development of the mobile Internet.
We are now connected in ways we couldn't have imaged would be possible in the past. The world is changing very, very dramatically and the mobile Internet is the most rapidly advancing part of development. It is also promoting even more entrepreneurship and innovation.
Mobile entrepreneurs should think altruistically because the most successful companies will be those that "keep in mind the larger context in which they are making change," Gore said. Much of the young talent that will develop the mobile ecosystem wants to work for a company that is has "higher values" than profits, he added.
“I think that the same ingenuity and technology change that has created excitement in digital mobile communication is also transforming energy,” Gore said, putting on his hat of advocating work against climate change. “It’s really creating an exciting source of hope [in] wind energy, energy storage, efficiency.”
Gore said there is certainly competition between American and Chinese companies, but noted that higher wages are now beginning to drive outsourcing in China. Use of robotics is also on the rise.
“There’s a hollowing out of middle income jobs in the U.S. and China and some areas around the world,” Gore continued. “China emphasizes exports as way to add value to the domestic market. As they develop domestic demand [for imports], a consumer demand-led market depends on middle income wages and salaries.”
Amid today's data flood -– we now create the equivalent of 60,000 Libraries of Congress each day, Gore said -– “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” may be the motto to follow.
“Think beyond yourselves and the commercial opportunities you’re pursuing. Think about how your lives and your businesses connect to the larger challenge that we as human beings confront,” Gore concluded.
— Jessica Lipsky, Associate Editor, EE Times