The forces of globalization and technology are rapidly transforming society and the global economy on a scale comparable only to the Industrial Revolution. Americans live in a country interconnected as never before with countless new technologies designed to make our lives easier and more enjoyable. Yet, many are increasingly left out, left behind, and worried about the future as globalization and technology displace traditional patterns of social and economic life. We are living in a country that used to represent the cutting edge of innovation. But now, opportunities are slipping out of reach, institutions aren’t keeping up, and leaders aren’t looking forward.

Current trends do not appear promising. During the recent years of great economic uncertainty, millions of America’s traditional, middle class jobs were eliminated. More than 60 percent of Americans now fear the country is on the wrong track and more 50 percent doubt the next generation will be better off than the last. With most of America’s institutions in business, education and government designed for the previous Industrial Age, it is time for our country to redesign these systems on a large scale.

The Markle Economic Future Initiative seeks to enable Americans to flourish in a global networked economy by fostering innovations that scale opportunities for work and personalized learning.

The Emerging Networked World

The present wave of technological innovation is accelerating. And as machines continue to replace human labor, leading large corporations to eliminate millions of middle-skill jobs, it is urgent that we work to reverse course.

America must reinvent itself and create new platforms tailored for today’s economic realities. Fortunately, globalization and technology have tremendous potential to create opportunities for America’s economic growth. We can reach this potential by engaging in global markets, opening access to data, and developing more innovative and personalized educational tools.

Actions Ahead

Blazing a fresh path to realize the American Dream early in this new era will require accelerating innovations that open up chances for millions of Americans to build businesses, find employment, and participate in ways that may be hard to now imagine.

Working with advocates who share our vision, we can spur steps to facilitate new ways to collaborate, start and scale small and medium-sized businesses, and to personalize lifelong learning. We can create economic opportunities and a thriving middle class by connecting businesses to opportunities globally and using technology to create personalized education plans that are affordable and contribute to job acquisition. We must replace the old, rigid systems with open structures that give flexibility and a sense of possibility for Americans everywhere.

This is not the first time that Americans have reacted to great change with a mix of amazement and anxiety. Today, rather than lament the harsh economic impact of globalization and technology, we must recognize these forces as key drivers of the next great American century and envision how both can open up a world of possibilities.