The Sixth Wave of Computing is forming out of a simultaneous mainstreaming of an entanglement of complex exponential technologies that blur the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.
Nations and multinational bodies, businesses, and funds are investing into this wave at unprecedented levels, to address climate change, activate economic growth, modernize their economies, increase competitiveness, address youth unemployment, attract investment, and profit. Annual global R&D investment has topped US$ 1.7 trillion (UNESCO), as most of the world, through commitment to the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, surge vast amounts of capital into R&D, directly and via market-shaping public-private initiatives.
Technology investment is phenomenally high-risk and volatile, heavily reliant on human interactions and relationships. The power dynamics of the Silicon Valley oligopoly conceal a poorly performing asset class. An estimated 90% of startups fail, and less than 1% achieve the fabled unicorn (US$ 1 billion) valuation. The average 10-year venture fund returns less than one times the original capital invested. Most state investment and corporate innovation and investment programs and funds deliver negative returns. With an estimated US$1 trillion of subprime paper valuations in private tech stocks, the sector has many of the same risk-characteristics of sub-prime mortgages. Billions are lost each year in this highly inefficient and bubble-prone market.
Government policymakers and officials, business leaders, and fund managers, lack the sophisticated systems needed to decode the rising complexity, to predict the future, and target their innovation programs and capital for maximum impact and return. Solving this problem, might well save the world.