The Market, Moore’s Law, and Mother Nature – Thomas Friedman on the World’s Most Disruptive Forces

The Market, Moore’s Law and Mother Nature are the three biggest forces shaping the world today. That was Thomas Friedman’s central thesis at an exclusive luncheon hosted for 20 corporate representatives and public affairs professionals by Interel in cooperation with The American Academy at our offices in Berlin.

The New York Times columnist and bestselling author (“The World is flat”) described how the expansion and speed of globalization (the market), the steady, exponential acceleration of computing power (Moore’s Law), and climate change, the extinction of biodiversity, and population growth (Mother Nature) affect everyone and everything: Individual careers, national economies, and entire civilizations.

“Average is over – for everyone”, Friedman warned, “for employees but also for entire countries that are competing internationally. Better products, services and employees are more accessible today. These market forces have been accelerated by computing power leading to a second machine age, moving from a connected to a hyper-connected and now an interdependent world. We are at the 50th anniversary of Moore’s Law and its prediction for computing power still seems to be valid and computers continue to disrupt our economies and societies. History used to be divided between Before Christ (BC) and After Christ (AC), today it’s before the internet and after the invention of the internet”, Friedman said.

The spread of the internet and rapid digitalisation means that a kid in Gabon will soon compete with American and European employees. The most important thing parents and educators can do according to Friedman is to “inspire self-motivation” in their children and students so that they can to compete globally.

In today’s post-imperial, post-colonial and post-autocratic age order cannot be imposed vertically anymore, but only horizontally. Here, Friedman sees potential to learn from Mother Nature by focusing on adaptation, utilizing diversity, and finding solutions in small scale networks rather than traditional hierarchies.” The Golden Rule – treat others as you would like to be treated yourself — has “to make a comeback”, especially since more people are empowered to harm us.

In light of these global developments, Friedman said that the Atlantic Alliance “is more important than ever”, but also “under attack from China seeking to rewrite the rules and Russia breaking the rules.” He also stated that concluding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is essential for the West to uphold the basic liberal principles it has established as international norms after World War II. 

Thomas L. Friedman, Author and Columnist, The New York Times

Thomas L. Friedman, world-renowned author and journalist, joined The New York Times in 1981 as a financial reporter focusing on OPEC and the oil industry. He later served as the chief diplomatic, White House, and international economics correspondent.

A three-time Pulitzer Prize recipient, Friedman has reported extensively on the Middle East conflict, the end of the Cold War, US domestic and foreign policy, international economics, and the global impact of terrorism. His foreign affairs column, which appears twice a week in the Times, is syndicated to one hundred newspapers worldwide.

Friedman is the author of From Beirut to Jerusalem, which won both the National Book Award and the Overseas Press Club Award in 1989. His business bestseller, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, received the 2000 Overseas Press Club Award for best nonfiction book on foreign policy and has since been translated into twenty languages. His book, Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11, presents a collection of columns he published about September 11, as well as a diary of private reflections he wrote while reporting from Afghanistan, Israel, Europe, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia.

In The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twentieth Century, which was the inaugural recipient of the Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award, Friedman articulates the intertwining of global economics, policy, energy, and trade.

For the past several years, Thomas Friedman has devoted his attention to reporting on green initiatives, global warming, and alternative energy and is considered to be one of the foremost conduits for translating the complex science behind global climate change to millions of readers. His latest work, Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America, a long-standing number one on the Times’ bestseller list, has been hailed by The Boston Globe as “a compelling manifesto that deserves a wide reading, especially by members of Congress and candidates for President.”


Markus Weidling

Managing Partner, Germany

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