Why baby boomers are an important part of technology’s future

Steve Jobs was 52 when he announced the iPhone. That was in 2007. Years later, the Apple co-founder introduced the MacBook Air, App Store and iPad. Tim Cook, who was 51 when he took over from Jobs, is building on his legacy. They both shattered a myth that the young rule the technology industry. Silicon Valley’s venture capitalists, however, speak openly of their bias toward the young. “People under 35 are...

Silicon Valley must join the Ebola battle before it becomes a matter of survival

Mark Zuckerberg recently announced a donation of $25 million to the Centers for Disease Control Foundationto help fight Ebola.  He noted that the Ebola epidemic has infected 8,400 people so far and could infect one million people or more if not addressed immediately. Zuckerberg’s involvement is an important step forward for the technology industry, and with a bit of luck, this disaster will be averted. But...

Move over, humans, the robocars are coming

My prediction is that in fewer than 15 years, we will be debating whether human beings should be allowed to drive on highways. After all, we are prone to road rage; rush headlong into traffic jams; break rules; get distracted; and crash into each other. That is why our automobiles need tank-like bumper bars and military-grade crumple zones. And it is why we need speed limits and traffic police. Self-driving...

Silly Apps Aren’t the Future of Tech

The contenders in the 2014 TechCrunch Disrupt included a startup that seeks to change the way in which diseases are diagnosed, a medical-grade health scanner, a platform to connect innovators with scientists and a suite of business-intelligence tools for conservation and drought planning. Sadly, the winner was a simple app for the elite: Alfred Club. This allows you to hire someone to do everyday chores such...

The coming era of unlimited—and free—clean energy

In the 1980s, leading consultants were skeptical about cellular phones.  McKinsey & Company noted that the handsets were heavy, batteries didn’t last long, coverage was patchy, and the cost per minute was exorbitant.  It predicted that in 20 years the total market size would be about 900,000 units, and advised AT&T to pull out.  McKinsey was wrong, of course.  There were more than 100 million...

It’s a beautiful time to be alive and educated

This is a commencement address I gave at Hult International Business School August 22, 2014. I grew up watching Star Trek and believing that by the time I became an adult we would all be using communicators, replicators, tricorders, and transporters. I was optimistic that the world would be a much better place: that we would have solved humanity’s problems and be exploring new worlds. That’s why my first...

Why we should believe the dreamers—not the experts

History is littered with the failed predictions of experts. Yet governments hire high-paid consultants to advise on policy; businesses use them to vet research and development projects; and venture capitalists have them make investment decisions.  Experts excel in looking backwards, protecting their turf, and saying what their clients want to hear. Their short-term predictions are sometimes right, but they...

We’re heading into a jobless future, no matter what the government does

In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers revived a debate I’d had with futurist Ray Kurzweil in 2012 about the jobless future. He echoed the words of Peter Diamandis, who says that we are moving from a history of scarcity to an era of abundance. Then he noted that the technologies that make such abundance possible are allowing production of far more output using...

How today’s technology is rapidly catching up to Star Trek

In a distant part of the galaxy, 300 years in the future, Starship Enterprise Captain James T. Kirk talks to his crew via a communicator; has his medical officer assess medical conditions through a handheld device called a tricorder; synthesizes food and physical goods using his replicator; and travels short distances via a transporter. Kirk’s successors hold meetings in virtual-reality chambers, called holodecks,...

Washington Post: Come on, Silicon Valley, you can do better than this

A new messaging app, called Yo, has created a sensation in Silicon Valley.  It is being hailed as the next big thing. The amazing breakthrough?  Sending the word “Yo” to a contact with just one click. This app received justifiable ridicule from Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert and many others.  But some technology industry moguls are taking it seriously.  Marc Andreessen wrote on Twitter that...

The powerful role of incentive competitions to spur innovation

In the 1920s, New York hotel owner Raymond Orteig offered a $25,000 prize to the first person to fly non-stop between New York and Paris. Several unsuccessful attempts were made before an American airmail pilot named Charles Lindbergh won the competition in 1927 with his plane, the Spirit of St. Louis. Lindbergh’s achievement made him a national hero and a global celebrity, but it also sparked the interest...

Silicon Valley must join the Ebola battle before it becomes a matter of survival

Mark Zuckerberg recently announced a donation of $25 million to the Centers for Disease Control Foundation to help fight Ebola.  He noted that the Ebola epidemic has infected 8400 people so far and could infect one million people or more if not addressed immediately. Zuckerberg’s involvement is an important step forward for the technology industry, and, with a bit of luck, this disaster will be averted. But...