US Poised for an Economic Renaissance

Friday, 10 May 2013 07:46 AM

By Barry Elias

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The United States is poised for an economic renaissance provided we manage these trying times with prudence and long-term perspective. A virtuous confluence is beginning to emerge that can reinvigorate our society and reverse the trend over the past several decades, where productivity declined and much wealth was transferred or destroyed.

Helping to form this confluence is a triad comprising major developments in education, entrepreneurial endeavors and financial management. The fulcrum of this activity is emanating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Their initiatives in these critical areas are laying the foundation for a major transformation of the industrial economy into a virtual, digital environment, similar to their founding premise in 1861 to mold the agrarian society into an industrialized economy.

Several years ago, MIT introduced an online education platform that provides an effective delivery model for learning and education with a synergistic blend of online and classroom environments. Shortly thereafter, Harvard joined forces with MIT to form the edX initiative, and since then other fine universities have signed on as well, including Stanford, Berkeley and Georgetown.

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Since 1985, the MIT Media Lab has been a powerful force in prototyping technological innovations with industrial and commercial applications. Along with the MIT Trust Center, which was founded in 1990 and focuses on entrepreneurial development, it is estimated that active companies founded by MIT alumni generate annual revenues of $2 trillion, roughly the size of the 11th largest world economy. This university is serving as a model to produce engineers and innovative entrepreneurs that provide significant value to society. While we need skilled government personnel, lawyers and financial professionals, these areas are oversupplied and too often involve the transfer and destruction of wealth, in lieu of wealth creation.

The Media Lab has been a hotbed for the conceptualization and implementation of bionic limbs for amputees. This breakthrough has enormous potential for improving the quality of life and generating impressive economic activity in the future. Soon these prostheses will surpass the ability of our natural limbs — with hardware and software upgrades these limbs will permit the user to differentiate sand from water with real tactile interpretation and control movements with mere thought.

The myriad of positive economic implications for amputees include increases in productivity and income, reductions in secondary disease processes due to ineffective prostheses and declines in-home care expenditures.

The final triad for this economic renaissance is the incorporation of real, production-based currency reserve assets that permit greater purchase power parity over time and geography. These assets can be physical, such as gold and silver, as well as virtual (digital), such as Bitcoin. The MIT community is rapidly exploring how Bitcoin can be implemented as a secure, effective, efficient medium of exchange for transactions of high-quality goods and services. Since this medium is based on aggregate supply and demand of valuable production-based assets, the currency is less susceptible to powerful public and private intervention, which can adversely and unfairly distort the monetization processes.

I suspect we will begin to embrace this developing ecosystem more fully over the next decade, leading to a digital renaissance in America, akin to our world-leading industrial revolution in the late 1800s.

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