César Hidalgo, director of Collective Learning Group of MIT Media Lab: "If Chile doesn't long jumps now, will be more difficult, because the window of opportunity disappears"

César Hidalgo, director of Collective Learning Group of MIT Media Lab: "If Chile doesn't long jumps now, will be more difficult, because the window of opportunity disappears"

For the physicist, our country still has a price advantage and an educated population that would achieve move from the economic point of view. But that is not eternal. He explains that the accumulation of knowledge is key in understanding why a country or company is developed more than another.

For the Chilean physicist Cesar Hidalgo, data is input to models and display the world. This generates knowledge that allows to answer questions to advance. Hidalgo assures that it is part of a generation that was "at the beginning of the twist" given to the internet irruption and the large amount of data, which began to be available.

The work developed in Boston, where he is director of the Collective Learning Group of the MIT Media Lab and an associate professor at the same University, is followed from different parts of the world, and it is not uncommon that economists and experts take their Visual foils to show, for example, a country that exports and how that could configure their development relative to other countries.

Hidalgo believes that "the difference between a country, a company or a region that develops more than another is the knowledge that this group of people has collectively. It is the diversity of things that are capable of doing and what so difficult are those things. All that depends on the accumulation of knowledge. The game you are playing countries and companies is trying to accumulate more knowledge", explains the academic, who next week will visit Chile, to participate in a seminar organized by Colbún.

What happens today with the generation of knowledge at a global level?

-The geography of wealth at the macro level is a phenomenon of geography of knowledge. In Silicon Valley, New York or Tokyo, there are lot of knowledge. These large agglomerations of knowledge also have much wealth, because they are able to produce many things very competitive and sometimes become monopolistic. He thinks all the monopolies that today has Silicon Valley, for example, of the "search" with Google or the monopoly of social nets with Facebook and Twitter. There are monopolies of knowledge. What one has to think about are political to generate knowledge or attract knowledge.

How is Chile in the generation of knowledge?

-Wealth comes from knowledge and knowledge should be trying to attract it. But on a third hand knowledge attracts knowledge. Then, when you're at a disadvantage, the attraction of knowledge is difficult.

In the case of Chile, we have the problem of which we are not very attractive in the international context. Many people with talent of province perhaps moves to Santiago or conception. But in a global context, we can not attract students from China or India, from Eastern Europe. And we try not to much, because spending on research and development in Chile is more or less under, both public and private.

But that has nothing to do with that we are a country in transit towards development?

-No, because when we see the trajectories of countries, there are some with income levels lower than Chile that have improved performance and others with high income who have had worse.
In the case of Korea and other Asian countries one sees that they are countries which made concerted efforts to enter more advanced technological sectors and compete against their neighbors. Korea in the 80s and 90s made many efforts to enter the automotive sector, electronic sector and even to skip technological generations and start building the next generation of, for example, liquid crystal display thinking that when this generation arrives will be able to beat Japan. They made several strong efforts from sticking a long jump.

Does Chile make a real effort to give that "long jump"?

-When we look at the data of what jumps so far Chile products space, we see that you jump on average shorter than other countries. It is a well-shy country.
When you look at Korea or other countries in East Asia which had a process of accelerated growth, one sees that there were periods of its history that defied gravity. They jumped further.

Is Chile able to make this turn and move forward faster to have an advantage?

-The optimum time to make long jumps is an intermediate development level. Chile is a little past. If Chile does not give long jumps now, it will be harder to give them then, because the window of opportunity disappears. For now, Chile still has a certain price advantage and we have a population fairly well educated.

When it comes to jumps, always are associated with technology?

-Not necessarily. It can be jumping from exporting frozen fish to fresh fish.

But Chile has given those jumps. Always talking about stop being exporter of raw materials and give them added value...

-All countries are constantly jumping. If look at maps of production from one year to another, all countries are jumping to a certain rate all the time.

In the hands of who is responsible for generating instances for jumps that allow a greater den development?

-There is a responsibility of the public sector coordinate the generation of knowledge. We know that the production of knowledge by the private sector would tend to be suboptimal, because knowledge is difficult to seize. Responsibility is public and private. The accumulation of knowledge is the only thing that is going to grow the cake.

In the light of information and viewing that has done, would look like Chile in the future?

-I am much more optimistic of Chile that the average Chilean on social networks, because I have to see every month the rest of the world. In fact, the quality of professionals in Chile is pretty good, students who come here are able to compete with students from all over the world. Unfortunately, we have a very pessimistic view of our own capacity.

What role should adopt the private sector?

-It would be nice that in Chile there was much more and better interactions between components of the private sector which are more wealthy and elite of knowledge creation. That one sees it in the U.S. When one goes to TED to do lectures, is how the millionaires of Silicon Valley are very connected with academics and those who generate knowledge and compete to be that support these generators of knowledge.

Do you think that this concept of working or investing for impact is something that is missing in Chile?

-There is less impact concept. I have to talk very much with people from the private sector. Understand that it can generate value is not appropriable and worth worth devote life to this is something that perhaps I don't see so often in Chile as I see it in other places.

Today the search for profit does more?

- But the equation is reversed. Money is an input for the achievement and legacy. Knowledge is all that remains.