Michael Saylor’s interview with Charlie Rose during class shared with us that billions of people are now using mobile phones, and in fact, 80% of the world’s global, literate population have them.
However, according to the World Economic Forum, more than 4 billion people still do not even have basic internet access, largely as a result of availability and affordability. It’s cited that”one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty in developing countries (estimated at as much as 7%) is to extend the reach of the Internet. Over the last 20 years, the online world has created millions of jobs and billions of dollars of economic activity.”
It got me thinking about the jobs today that exist in the developed world purely because of the Internet. As of December 2016, more than 17,000 people work at Facebook – alone.
Enhancing Internet access would would help in “creating millions of jobs, and giving today’s poor the chance to advance socially and economically.” Where there comes access comes opportunity. It gives me great hope that one of the 4 billion people currently without access, when they finally get that opportunity, could be the person who unlocks some of the greatest modern day miracles of our time. The Center of Technology, Innovation, and Competition at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, led by Professor Christopher Yoo, the center’s founding director and John H. Chestnut Professor of Law, Information and Computer Science at the University of Pennsylvania’s Law School, and Sharada Srinivasan, a CTIC Research Fellow has created a research hub – 1 World Connected which “seeks to consolidate, extend, and share information about these efforts [to increase internet access] by collecting and disseminating case studies on practices that have proven effective in improving broadband adoption, and conducting empirical evaluations of grassroots connectivity projects.” As they deploy a data-driven project to help bring billions online, perhaps the day of increased access is closer than we think.
And how will that access change social media? I cringe thinking about what the world’s poorest would think about the whining that goes on Facebook statuses and Tweets as they grapple with much larger challenges. But I smile thinking that one day, so many of their offline challenges will be solved by online opportunities- not only for employment, but for personal satisfaction of connection to “tribes” that they didn’t realize existed all over the world.