Thursday, December 27, 2007

Is Intellectual Capital More Important than Natural Resources?

It is interesting to contemplate - has intellectual capital become more important to GNP around the globe than the exploitation of natural resources? The claim is really a twofold one. First, that the intellectual capital required to efficiently exploit natural resources tends to be held predominantly by first world countries, and therefore represents a hidden 'tax' on third world countries who require this expertise to take advantage of their own natural resources. Second, that *all* methods of wealth generation will increasingly rely on intellectual property and capital moving forward.

It seems to me that both claims are pretty clear - the first is readily demonstrable now, especially as China has joined the rest of the first world countries who have been doing this since colonial times and begun to make huge strides in using its intellectual capital to exploit the resources of less advantaged countries, specifically in Africa.

The second is less clear - it is fairly apparent that at some point in the future intellectual property, capital, and expertise will take the lead in wealth generation against the commodity markets. I would guess that this has not happened yet, although a study comparing the different contributers to GDP around the world by type would be instructive and might assist in predicting when this crossover point will be reached.

The moral is clear: build and protect intellectual capital and provide a secure environment for this process to take place. This is true on an individual, corporate, and national scale.