I Learned Some Things At the G7/I7

Headed back today from Torino, Italy.  I am going to be jet lagged as heck.  We had a series of meetings at the G7.  This was the first year they brought people from outside of government to weigh in on some of the topics that they were going to talk about with regard to innovation.

I worked with Ted Ullyot and Dyan Gibbens on The Future of Work.  In our group were representatives from the other G7 countries. Tucker Baich and Kirk Borne were also in our group working on Artificial Intelligence and Big Data. We advised the G7.

This is the first time they have ever done anything like this. I thank the US government for inviting me-and I thank the Italian government for hosting and coming up with the idea. I hope Canada continues the I7 meet up.

I was able to talk about what is going on in Chicago with some people.

We had a moderated discussion.  Instead of just listing things, the I7 hired some “scribes” to write the points that were coming out in discussions on a poster board.  Here is one of the photos I took.

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There was some agreement about things like education. Worldwide, we need to radically rethink how we are educating younger people. We need to embrace all different forms of ways to educate and disrupt what I thought was simply the US Education hierarchy, but actually turns out to be an International Education Hierarchy. The system needs to be more student focused, and flatter with a LOT less bureaucracy.

I believe we will soon be reaching a time where blockchain could create markets and certifications in education, blowing up that hierarchy.

Another thing we found commonality on was that there is dignity in work. It is possible with the internet, the gig economy, and the march of technology to have a self-determined life. Technology brings freedom we never had before. It also brings many challenges.

We are mindful of the rapid pace of income disparity between those that have jobs requiring cognitive non-repetitive skills and those that don’t. Think again if you are a white collar worker and assume you are immune.

Our focus was instead of being terrified by technological change to find ways to harness it to improve human life.

As I got to know people from each of the G7 countries, I asked a simple question. “Is there a stigma for failure in your country?” Virtually all of them said there was.

That sentiment is an absolute killer for risk taking and entrepreneurship.

Silicon Valley doesn’t have a failure stigma. It’s one of the reasons it is what it is. I don’t think Chicago has totally gotten over that hump yet. Certainly, other areas of the US have not.

It was also interesting to see the multi-nationalism of a lot of the participants. Many grew up in Italy, but worked in Germany, France, the UK or the US. Many of the French worked in the US and Germany. Both the Japanese and Canadian delegation had participants that worked in the US. By far, the US looked to be the place to do entrepreneurship. This is why it is critical for us to fix our immigration policy.

We talked a little about Basic Income and B Corps. I don’t think those topics were within the scope of this particular meeting, but the international community is thinking about them. Personally, I think negative income taxes are more efficient and fit with the human condition when it comes to positive economic incentives than basic income-even though they look similar. I also think that B Corps aren’t relevant. In a competitive world where talent is scarce, not taking care of your employees is a killer. I also chalk a lot of the “social” spend B Corps do to marketing costs. Whether it’s good or bad isn’t the question. It’s whether you can quantify and measure the spend to drive value for shareholders.

The policies are big and technology is a driver for growth with all G7 countries. It is important for them to take the lead on it. Trump is on it.