The Rich-Poor Divide

Recently, in my Technology, Literacy, & Culture class, we’ve been talking about some of the criticisms against Ray Kurzweil’s ideas presented in his book The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology.

One of the major criticims is that as new technology becomes available quicker, the rich-poor divide will grow larger. The rich will get new technology first; and by the time the poorer can afford the technology, the rich will already have something better. The problem with many in my class is that they don’t understand that there is not really a huge rich-poor gap in the world any longer.

Now don’t get me wrong. There are still rich people and poor people, and their incomes are far from close. However, most of the world is in the middle. Hans Rosling, professor of international health at Sweden’s world-renowned Karolinska Institute and founder of Gapminder, gets rid of some of the myths surrounding the developing world (February 2006, 20:36).

I was actually amazed at how much the gap has been closed. I had thought that there was much more poverty in some of these countries than what is shown from his data.

So, as future technology advances, with Rosling’s given data, will the gap continue to decrease? Or, might we see a reverse in the progress of the last 30-40 years?