Economics, politics, ethics, employment and communities are being greatly affected by three major global forces – and places like Fresno are squarely in the path of that change.
That’s the message that Thomas L. Friedman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The New York Times and best-selling author, brought to an audience Wednesday evening at Fresno State’s Save Mart Center. Friedman’s lecture, which was free to the public, was sponsored by The Fresno Bee, Valley PBS and Channel 24 (KSEE).
Friedman told reporters before his talk that it would focus on themes in his latest book, “Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations.”
“What I argue is that it’s actually three big things happening at the same time: Market, Mother Nature and Moore’s Law,” Friedman said. “The market is digital globalization – not your grandfather’s globalization, which was containers on ships and airplanes – the way everything is being globalized and digitized (by) Facebook, Twitter, PayPal, etc.”
What I argue is that it’s actually three big things happening at the same time: Market, Mother Nature and Moore’s Law.
Columnist and author Thomas L. Friedman
“Mother Nature is climate change, biodiversity loss and population growth,” he added. “And Moore’s Law was coined in 1965 by Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Intel, who said the speed and power of microchips will double every 24 months. But now it’s closer to 30 or 32 months … and it’s the driver of all technology.”
If one were to chart each of these factors, Friedman said, “it would look like a hockey stick” with a sharp rise compressed into a short amount of time.
“The three together are what are shaping more things and more places in more ways in more days,” Friedman said. “More technology drives more globalization, (and) more globalization actually drives more climate issues and more solutions to all these problems at the same time.”
Friedman acknowledged that he’s not a fan of President Donald Trump, who campaigned last year on a platform to “Make America Great Again.” That slogan would seemingly make Trump no fan of globalization, but “he is – he just wants it to be tilted more our way,” Friedman said.
Globalization is a key concern to places like Fresno, Friedman added. “In Fresno, I suspect you’re exporting a lot of agriculture all over the world,” he said. “So this community is deeply affected by all those trends, and the book is really about how all of those trends are reshaping the workplace, politics, geopolitics, ethics and community.”
Because of the changing pace of technology, the days when when someone could make a middle-class living with middle-range skills are long gone, as is the era where one can earn a college degree and remain comfortably in one career with one company for 30 years. “You can still be in the middle class with a high-wage job, but not a middle-skills job,” Friedman said. What digitization and globalization of technology are creating is an employment environment in which workers need to be lifelong learners to keep up with the skills needed for a changing workplace.
“If technology is changing every three to five years, we’re required to learn all kinds of new things,” he said. “People need to retool themselves so much faster.”