Innovation That Will Shape America's Future
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John Mariotti, an author and Forbes contributor, explores issues at the core of America's revitalization in his most recent column. Among the significant developments reshaping America's future are, he says: the cloud's ability to make data storage and processing infinitely scalable and available, and more affordable; increased transparency in everything from product pricing to social networks; the shift from behemoth retail stores to smaller, more focused stores; long-term unemployment, rising health care costs, and slowing economic growth in the developing world.
Mariotti goes on to list a number of innovations and developments that will bolster our competitiveness and propel our economy forward:
- Innovation in the very broadest sense of the word is the only way to break the cycle of slow growth, high unemployment, climbing deficits and misery. The good news is that many of the innovations of the past few years are ready to come of age. Unleash the American ingenuity and innovative spirit, and allow entrepreneurs to cast off the shackles of an over-reaching, over-regulating government.
- Nanotechnology is here–it just requires careful application to avoid dangerous unintended consequences of its misuse. This technology permits never before imaginable miniaturization making it possible to do miraculous things. Advances being made at DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) are on the cusp of big breakthroughs—some of which have big commercial potential with more proactive government leadership.
- Battery technology is due for a breakthrough. Devices from computers and smart phones/tables to autos are constrained by the power to weight ratio of “batteries.” New approaches will emerge. Energy conversion sources exist that have not yet been fully commercialized due to restrictive government subsidies to stupid concepts like using corn-based ethanol to replace gasoline.
- Genetics will continue to revolutionize medicine. Life extension will continue to progress, making the reinvention of entitlements for the aged and aging even more critical. The potential and productivity of people who are past what was once considered productive ages will amaze. Seventy-five will become the new fifty in age. The threat of Obamacare’s cost-value tradeoff for limiting medical care for the elderly can threaten one of America’s greatest, underutilized resources—people over age 65!
- Privatization of space flight will rapidly develop, better, faster and more economically than government could ever imagine. Like so many other things the government does poorly, (Post Office, Amtrak, Immigration, etc., etc.) Private enterprise can do this at a huge discount with better outcomes. The economic benefits may be secondary to the US’ global strategic defense importance.
- Energy independence and the enormous economic benefits associated with this—in jobs, in balance of trade, in the future global power balance, and much more—is coming. Shale oil, natural gas buried deep under the USA, improved/smarter coal power, vehicles that run on Liquid Natural Gas, and all the other niches: solar, wind, hydro-electric, tidal, and finally, new technology-based, smaller, modular nuclear plants will power America in the next decade or two—IF the revitalization starts NOW!
- Education will become networked, and enhanced in many ways, and campuses will be a nice amenity for those who can afford going there, but not necessary to get an education. The centuries old European model of a single (tenured) teacher teaching an entire class at the pace that the average student can digest is coming to an end. The smartest ones are bored, and the weakest ones belong in trade schools learning badly needed trades/skills.
- Trade Schools will reemerge to properly train people to work in what have been previously low or semi-skilled jobs but are not any more, as the technology used in everything is more and more advanced. A blend of hands on skills and understanding of computer-controls will be the key.
- Governments that have grown bloated and bureaucratic, inefficient and provincial will be exposed, vilified, and dismantled. The era of “big government” has peaked because it is unaffordable in a slow growth global economy.
You can read Mariotti's entire column here.