Atlas of Economic Complexity

Source: AidOnTheEdge, Nov 2011

Related Resource: Amazon review, May 2015

Humans have the unique ability to do what César poetically describes as “crystallize information”. We create objects from our imagination and from the collective fiction we develop with others through expression and language. We eventually hit limits of what we can compute and manifest on our own, forcing us to work with others to form a distributed computer…a social network with an emergent collective intelligence. This human network leads to economies embedded in social and professional networks that predate and constrain economic activity.

The inequality of the wealth of nations is an inevitable consequence of the inequality of the distribution of large networks of knowledge and knowhow. César then leverages his previous in-depth work on economic complexity to make four important testable predictions:

  • Simpler economic activities will be more ubiquitous.
  • Diversified economies will be the only ones capable of executing complex economic activities
  • Countries will diversify toward related products
  • Over the long run (> five years), a region’s level of income will approach the complexity of its economy, as approximated by product exports

Society is a collective computer, augmented by the products we produce to compute new forms of information. The social and economic problem that we are truly trying to solve is that of embodying knowledge and knowhow in networks of humans. This evolves the computational capacity of the human race, and ultimately helps information grow.


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