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Hawai’i’s Shared Futures By Vision Foresight Strategy

Virtual Economies

This arstechnica article on the IRS being urged to tax activities in virtual worlds once again reminds us that when it comes to diversifying the economy, there are many ways to do that.  We normally talk about the economy in terms of major sectors like ‘construction’ or singular pillar industries like ‘tourism,’ but the economy is actually a very complex and dynamic thing, and our traditional focus on single shot cures for both short term recovery and long-term growth are likely to fall short of either hope.

There are leading-edge theories about economic growth that posit that our modern, post-industrial economies grow through the development of new technologies and the changes those new capabilities provoke in how we do work and how we produce value.  At the industry and organizational level, we would then be looking at how businesses evolve through applying new technologies and reorganizing themselves around those technologies, not just for greater efficiencies but also to produce new things of value.  Broad change and evolution in economies then is not achieved simply through a government stimulus package or by simply dumping money into public works projects, but more likely through consistent support of new R&D, new businesses, and lots of experimentation.

For Hawai’i, one has to wonder how many different (and new) areas of entrepreneurship and experimentation we should be open to and supportive.  No one really nows what ‘virtual’ economies (which actually are real economies for intangible goods) could become for Hawai’i, but for a place with geographic isolation, multi-cultural populations, and reasonable tech infrastructure, maybe more of us should be looking at developing and growing creative new online economies.

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Filed under: Business, Economics, Hawai'i, Technology, Wealth

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