This Challenge touched upon a very interesting theme emerging from the Ideas Economy: Human Potential conference – metrics. Societal, environmental, governmental and economic metrics and indices have long been known to be tremendously useful tools for tracking the progress of humankind. For example, Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness index has helped that country’s government better manage its population’s contentment and make changes for those parts of the country that were lagging. Similarly, there’s the commission on the measurement of economic performance and social progress that focuses on quantifying the output of the economy and society of France. And finally a third example is the OECD’s quality of life index which tries to quantify how many of the world’s economies are growing and evolving based on the governance and policies they enact.
The objective of this Challenge was to come up with a new metric or index to capture an important element of society. The metric or index should be relevant to the conference’s main theme of enabling human potential, defined as how successfully individuals, organizations, and societies are able to unleash intellectual energy and capitalize on it for social and economic progress. While Solvers were not required to start quantifying their metrics or indices, they were required to be able to reasonably explain where to locate the data needed both now and in the future (assuming that the creation of some reasonable data collection infrastructure would be possible). Even though a metric or index could be used to quantify local trends of human potential, it was more interesting to the Economist to learn about metrics or indices that measure trends at least at the country or regional level, if not at the global level.