Mar 7th 2009

Prediction: Asians win all Nobel Prizes

by Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson is a music critic with particular interest in piano. 

Johnson worked as a reporter and editor in New York, Moscow, Paris and London over his journalism career. He covered European technology for Business Week for five years, and served nine years as chief editor of International Management magazine and was chief editor of the French technology weekly 01 Informatique. He also spent four years as Moscow correspondent of The Associated Press. He is the author of five books.

Michael Johnson is based in Bordeaux. Besides English and French he is also fluent in Russian.

You can order Michael Johnson's most recent book, a bilingual book, French and English, with drawings by Johnson:

“Portraitures and caricatures:  Conductors, Pianist, Composers”

 here.

BORDEAUX - In a new best-selling book, French media consultant and author Alain Minc says he can see the day in the near future when all Nobel Prizes will go to Asian scientists and writers.

Imaging himself 11 years into the future, he writes: "All our habits and certainties exploded on that day in 2021. Suddenly the bell tolls in the Western educational establishment, and particularly the United States. The shock is terrible at Harvard, Berkeley, Oxford and Heidelberg."

Americans of the future quickly understand that this is no coincidence, and foresee that Asians are now positioned to dominate research and development indefinitely. "As for the Europeans" muses Minc, "they don't even feel this reaction, as if the confrontation with Asia had long since left them marginalized in the battle for knowledge."

Minc cites the rise of Asia as one of the trends that will overturn the global status quo. He takes this and nine other themes as starting points for essays examining how the world got to this stage. His book, "Dix jours qui ébranleront le monde" (Ten Days that Will Shake the World) was published this week in Paris by Grasset.

Minc's pedigree as a product of the elite Ecole Normale d'Administration (ENA) and a close adviser to President Nicolas Sarkozy has given this slim collection of essays credibility and made it an instant sensation.

Of China's educational system, he notes that 15 million students are working for advanced degrees at 4,000 institutions, including several subsidized "private" institutions, "bearing witness to a new élitisme clearly in evidence". The government, he continues, " treats higher education the same as sports, keeping a single objective in mind: a maximum number of medals".

Minc cites India's past as a British colony, and its adoption of the English language, as conferring a great advantage over competing nations in Europe. And while he sees that the United States and Asia will collaborate, Europe's "marginalization will be even more obvious, and it will already be too late to do anything about it."

Japan, already confident of its excellence, will "do everything to avoid being equalled or beaten by the Chinese and Indians". And Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea "will continue their progression, stimulated by their constant flow of new talent".

The Minc scenario for this and other trends in the book is considered plausible because of real events leading up to each of his ten days.

Although concocting such lists is no great achievement (Minc says he could list a thousand events), he has chosen his top ten for their upheaval factor and their proximity to reality, often with dangerous implications. His essays are thoughtful and well-researched.

His other themes are:

-- Israel attacks Iran's nuclear installations

-- Google buys the New York Times for one dollar

-- Terrorists acquire a nuclear weapon and threaten London

-- China invades and takes back Taiwan

-- Scotland breaks off from the United Kingdom

-- Young white male professionals demonstrate for their rights

-- Gazprom makes a bid for Total, the leading French oil company

-- The U.S. dollar falls through the floor and hits $2.5 to the euro

-- French population exceeds that of Germany

Particularly chilling is his scenario for the disappearance of the New York Times. He imagines it happening like this:

It is March 25, 2013, and New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzburger Jr. has nowhere to go but Chapter 11 bankruptcy court, and tomorrow is his deadline. The phone rings. It is Eric Schmidt, Goggle chairman and CEO, with a proposition. He wants to buy the deeply indebted newspaper for one dollar. It just might work, Sulzburger thinks to himself. Google could at least save our name.

Giving this story impact is the fact that advertising and reading habits are rapidly shifting from the printed page to new forms of media on the internet, including Facts & Arts. Although Europe has not yet experienced the collapse of major titles, several dailies are struggling to adapt to the assault. Meanwhile, the U.S. newspaper market is reeling from a string of recent failures.

Minc imagines Sulzberger reasoning that a sell-off to Google for one dollar would be as humiliating as filing for bankruptcy, but at least the changes of saving the Times's identity would be better.

Google likes the idea, he goes on, because it offers a chance to rebrand Google News and thus "achieve a degree of credibility which, despite its power, it still is lacking", especially in Washington, where Google needs lobbying influence to expand its other businesses.

Following Sulzberger's acceptance of the Google offer, commentators conclude that the print version of the newspaper is living on a borrowed time, and may end up as a sort of dumbed-down New York Review of Books with reduced circulation and higher cover price. More ominously, the new owners would go for "different type of journalist, a philosophy of opposite from traditional press, and a revised set of professional ethics".

Six months after the acquisition, The New York Times is nothing more than a gigantic website that can claim only one success -- it quadruples the audience of the former Google News.

Minc enjoys a career as a French thinker in the world of business and the media.He has written a thought-provoking book that is part alarm bell and part a call to arms for Europeans. His technique of focusing on the climatic events, then backtracking to fill in the history, makes for a racy formula that focuses the mind effectively.


If you wish to comment on this article, you can do so on-line.

Should you wish to publish your own article on the Facts & Arts website, please contact us at info@factsandarts.com


Somewhat related, please watch Erich Schmidt, Google's CEO, at Morgan Stanley's technology conference on March 3, 2009:




 


This article is brought to you by the author who owns the copyright to the text.

Should you want to support the author’s creative work you can use the PayPal “Donate” button below.

Your donation is a transaction between you and the author. The proceeds go directly to the author’s PayPal account in full less PayPal’s commission.

Facts & Arts neither receives information about you, nor of your donation, nor does Facts & Arts receive a commission.

Facts & Arts does not pay the author, nor takes paid by the author, for the posting of the author's material on Facts & Arts. Facts & Arts finances its operations by selling advertising space.

 

 

Browse articles by author

More Current Affairs

Apr 17th 2019
On the night of April 15, 2019, in Paris, the emotions were raw. “Notre Dame is burning, the whole of France is crying, the whole world is crying,” said Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris. “It’s terrible, frightening, painful, a tragedy, a nightmare.” “This place leaves no one untouched. When you enter this cathedral, it inhabits you,” said Anne Hidalgo, the Mayor of Paris, in front of the burning monument. “We will rebuild,” said the Rector of Notre Dame, “we will rebuild.”
Apr 15th 2019
High-level political purges are gathering pace in Russia. The latest evidence came in late March, with the arrests of Mikhail Abyzov, a former minister for open government affairs, and – two days later – Viktor Ishayev, a former Far East minister and ex-governor of Russia’s Khabarovsk region. Unsurprisingly, the arrests of such senior figures is having a chilling effect among the country’s elites. The authorities have now arrested or imprisoned three former federal government ministers and a supporting cast of regional officials
Apr 8th 2019
The reaction to this type of paternalism, sensible and well-meant as it usually was, came in the form of petulant populism. Like a child who refuses to eat his spinach, just because his mother claims it is good for him, supporters of Trump, Brexiteers, or Baudet want to give the finger to the politics of virtue. That is why Nigel Farage, the chief promoter of Brexit, likes to be photographed with a glass full of beer and a smoldering cigarette: if the virtuous elite want us to drink less and quit smoking, let’s have another and light up.
Apr 8th 2019
Chinese President Xi Jinping seems to be on a roll. He has sent a rocket to the dark side of the moon, built artificial islands on contested reefs in the South China Sea, and recently enticed Italy to break ranks with its European partners and sign on to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump’s unilateralist posture has reduced America’s soft power and influence. China’s economic performance over the past four decades has been truly impressive. It is now the main trading partner for more than a hundred countries compared to about half that number for the United States. Its economic growth has slowed, but its official 6% annual rate is more than twice the American rate. Conventional wisdom projects that China’s economy will surpass that of the US in size in the coming decade. Perhaps. But it is also possible that Xi has feet of clay.
Apr 2nd 2019
"......as prime minister, May called a snap election in the name of helping her deliver Brexit. She openly dismissed anyone opposing Brexit – which at the very least meant the 16.5m who had voted remain – as “playing games with politics”. In hock to the hardline Brexiteers within her own party, May pushed a for a version of Brexit that would make this small group of around 100 or so individuals happy, regardless of what millions out in the country thought."
Apr 1st 2019
The financial crisis occurred in 2008 because deficient regulation allowed huge risks to develop within the financial system itself. But the depth of the subsequent recession, and the long period of slow growth that followed, was the result not of continued financial system fragility, but of the excessive leverage in the real economy that had developed over the previous half-century. Between 1950 and 2007, advanced economies’ private-sector debt (households and companies) grew from 50% to 170% of GDP and adequate growth seemed attainable only if debt grew far more rapidly than nominal GDP. After the crisis, loan growth turned negative and remained depressed for many years, not because an impaired financial system lacked the capital to extend credit, but because overleveraged households and companies were determined to pay down debt even if interest rates were zero. The same pattern was observed in Japan in the 1990s.
Mar 28th 2019
The American people should have known that something was awry when President Donald Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, announced on Friday, March 22, that he had received special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and would provide a summary of its findings to certain congressional leaders over the weekend. We should have asked: Why Barr’s summary and not Mueller’s? Presumably, Mueller had attached one to his report. It turned out there was a propagandistic reason for this unusual arrangement: Barr issued the best possible interpretation of Mueller’s report – from the president’s standpoint – including perhaps even a twist on what Mueller had said and intended. This allowed the president and his backers to propagate and celebrate what Mueller didn’t say: that the report’s conclusions were a “total exoneration” of Trump. In fact, even Barr’s brief summary, quoting Mueller’s report, said, “While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
Mar 26th 2019
"The 2020 campaign could easily devolve into street violence at Trump’s instigation."
Mar 26th 2019


 

BEIJING – The global economy is weakening, in no small measure because of a deep, widespread sense of uncertainty. And a major source of that uncertainty is the ongoing Sino-American “trade war.”

Mar 19th 2019
Last week, a far-right extremist killed at least 50 people – including a three-year-old child – worshiping at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch. Neither white supremacy, nor racially motivated terrorist attacks carried out in its name, are new phenomena. Yet the response to far-right terrorism remains thoroughly insufficient.
Mar 12th 2019
Allegations of Russian meddling in the affairs of Western countries have been a persistent feature of Western politics since the Cold War. Claims of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election are only the most recent in a long series of suspected conspiracies across the past century or so. But Russian political discourse is also riddled with conspiracy theories. Everything bad that happens in Russia is traced back by some to one or another anti-Russian plot hatched in the West.
Mar 10th 2019
My Soviet school built a mesh fence around its yard. Every week, tardy kids who wanted to cut through the yard tore a hole in the fence. Every weekend, the administration fixed it. But the hole would reappear the morning after. This went on forever. I wish US President Donald Trump, the fence builder of the West, had gone to my school. The Soviet Union was a country of fences, barriers, and walls. Everything was prohibited, locked, and guarded. Warning signs were phrased in no uncertain terms: “Do Not Enter: Death!” “Strangers Are Forbidden.” “The Border Is Closed.” Barriers didn’t stop people from ignoring the warnings. But they complicated things.
Mar 8th 2019

 

WASHINGTON, DC – It seems that every time I write about Donald Trump’s presidency, I pronounce it to be in more trouble than ever. This time is no different: he and his presidency are indeed in more trouble than ever. And yet that may not prevent him from winning again in 2020.

Mar 7th 2019
The Brexit process has exacerbated many of the disunities within the UK’s territorial constitution................polling in England suggests that many people think breaking up the UK is perhaps a price worth paying to deliver Brexit.......... At the referendum, only two of the four component parts of the UK – England and Wales – voted to leave the EU. This was enough to swing an overall UK-wide majority in favour of leave, but it went against the will of the Scottish and Northern Irish electorate. In both these parts of the country, significant majorities voted to remain – 62% and 55.8%, respectively.
Mar 6th 2019
Watching Michael D. Cohen, US President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and self-described “fixer,” testify to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform was a remarkable spectacle to behold. Here was a man who was hired by Trump to behave like a gangster. And he did that to perfection. When The Daily Beast was about to report on allegations by Trump’s first wife, Ivana, that her husband had raped her, Cohen barked at the journalist working on the story: “So I’m warning you, tread very fucking lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting. You understand me?” That journalist was hardly alone. Cohen’s job was to threaten anyone who got in the way of his old boss. He lied to congressional committees, paid off prostitutes to stop them from talking about their affairs with Trump, and much else. Cohen, who will soon begin serving a three-year prison sentence, has become what Mafiosi (and Trump) call a “rat.”
Feb 27th 2019
Extracts: "Some political catastrophes come without warning. Others are long foretold, but governments still walk open-eyed into disaster. As the possibility of a no-deal Brexit looms, most analysts agree that there will be severe economic and political consequences for the UK and the EU. And yet a no-deal Brexit still remains an option on the table....." ".......Although the consequences of a no-deal Brexit will be much less terrible, there are similarities in certain patterns of thinking and political behaviour, from the few who embrace disaster to the systemic pressures which prevent compromise. Avoiding disaster in 1914 would have required framing the stakes of the July crisis in less zero-sum ways and refusing to rationalise a general European war as an acceptable policy option. It required leaders with enough courage to compromise, even to accept defeat, and for states to offer rivals the prospect of long-term security and future gains in exchange for accepting short-term setbacks."
Feb 25th 2019
US President Donald Trump’s administration has underestimated China’s resilience and strategic resolve. With the Chinese economy slowing, the US believes that China is hurting and desperate for an end to the trade war. But with ample policy space to address the current slowdown, China’s leadership has no need to abandon its longer-term strategy. While a cosmetic deal focused on bilateral trade appears to be in the offing, the sharp contrast between the two economies’ fundamental underpinnings points to a very different verdict regarding who has the upper hand.
Feb 21st 2019
Extracts: "......after three years of referendum-induced turmoil, there is finally a new move, a brave move, by the eight Labour MPs and three Conservative MPs (and counting)......There are no policy announcements, no real statement of principles, and there is no leader or political platform. And yet, this policy-free political movement is of incredible political importance........this is an act of direct action, based on the concept of prefiguration. That is, the actual policy statement at the heart of the formation of this movement is the formation of the movement itself. There is no need for grand policy statements right now."
Feb 21st 2019
There is a fascinating chapter toward the end of Alexis de Toqueville’s Democracy in America titled “What Kind of Despotism Do Democratic Nations Have to Fear?” in which the author attempted something truly extraordinary – to describe a social condition which humankind had never before encountered. We find him trying to put his finger on something which does not yet exist, but which – in his extraordinary political imagination – he was able to foresee with startling clarity.
Feb 20th 2019
From Trump’s very inauguration day speech, written for him by the fascist gadfly Steve Bannon and man still without a prom date Stephen Miller, it was apparent that the 45th president was a constitutional crisis waiting to happen. And now, without our realizing it for the most part, the constitutional crisis is here.