Don Tapscott, Inaugural Fellow, Founder and Chairman Global Solution Networks

Don is one of the world’s leading authorities on innovation, media, and the economic and social impacts of technology.

He is CEO of the Tapscott Group, a think tank that regularly advises business and government leaders. Don is also the Founder and Executive Director of Global Solution Networks, a multi-million dollar program investigating networked models for cooperation, problem solving and governance.

In its latest ranking in 2013, Thinkers50 listed Don as the 4th most important business thinker in the world.

Don has authored or co-authored 15 books, including most recently, The Digital Economy Anniversary Edition: Rethinking Promise and Peril in the Age of Networked Intelligence (October 2014); Macrowikinomics: New Solutions for a Connected Planet (2012); Grown Up Digital (2008); and, Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything (2006).

He is an Adjunct Professor of Management at the Rotman School of Management and the inaugural fellow at the Martin Prosperity Institute. In 2013, Don was appointed Chancellor of Trent University. He also plays the Hammond B3 organ in the band Men in Suits, which has raised millions of dollars for charity.

In addition to his work with the GSN program, Don’s Fellow Project at the MPI will focus on developing a new technology infrastructure for democratic capitalism.

From the early days of the emergence of the Internet as a transformational force, the dominant view has been optimistic with respect to its leveling effect. It would disrupt a highly hierarchical pre-Internet world in which power was held tightly in the hands of few and power structures were hard to climb and even harder to breakdown.

The Internet would bring about low cost and massive peer-to-peer communication, which would enable the undermining of traditional hierarchies. Peers in this system would be global, bringing developing world citizens into equations in which they were previously totally absent. Value in this new peer-to-peer world would be based on quality of contribution not status. If you were smart and hard working in India, your merit would bring you status. This would all have a massive democratizing and flattening effect. The world would be flatter, more meritocratic, more flexible, and more fluid.

It has become clear that the original democratic architecture of the Internet has been bent to the will of economies and societies in which power is anything but widely distributed. If anything, the world has gotten spikier, more power dominated and entrenched. Rather than information and knowledge being more widely and democratically distributed, it is being controlled, owned and exploited by fewer entities.

All solutions to this date involve policy and government action to redistribute wealth, constrain the use of data by powerful entities, break up monopolies or otherwise democratize the use and of technology. But what if there were a new technology infrastructure emerging that was truly peer-to-peer and not easily corrupted or usurped? Don’s work at the MPI will deeply explore that question.