2014 is ending, but this wave of technology disruptions is just beginning

Changes in technology are happening at a scale which was unimaginable before and will cause disruption in industry after industry. This has really begun to worry me, because we are not ready for this change and most of our leading companies won’t exist 15–20 years from now. Here are five sectors to keep an eye on: 1. Let’s start with manufacturing. Robotics and 3-D printing have made it cheaper to manufacture...

Banning drones won’t solve the problem

The Federal Aviation Administration recently released a report detailing more than 190 safety incidents involving drones and commercial aircraft. In response, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has vowed to push legislation that would crack down on the commercial use of drones, also called Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). India’s Directorate General for Civil Aviation has already banned all use of drones...

In defense of college: What Peter Thiel gets wrong, once again.

In a Washington Post opinion piece, billionaire Peter Thiel asserts that college is the final stage of a competitive tournament in which kids at the top enjoy prestige because they’ve defeated everybody else. He claims that college education is a bubble and doesn’t provide more value than an insurance policy; that the college admissions process is all that is important because it anoints an “already-proven...

Uber’s legacy hangs in the balance: Digital robber baron or respectable innovator?

Uber, the leading ridesharing company, has earned the distinction of becoming one of the most hated companies in the technology industry. One of its executives, Emil Michael, recently suggested to a large dinner gathering that his company should allocate $1 million to dig up dirt on reporters who were criticizing it. Last month, it tried to entice riders in Lyon, France, with ads pitching free pickups from...

My INK Talk: Why India shouldn’t be succeeding — but is about to experience an innovation boom

When I started researching India’s engineering education in 2005, my first conclusion was that Indian I.T. was doomed. The country was barely graduating enough engineers to staff this growing industry. The quality of engineers that India’s universities graduated was also inconsistent, and most were unemployable. To make matters worse, India graduated hardly any engineering PhDs—so there wasn’t much...

This Indian start-up could disrupt health care with its powerful and affordable diagnostic machine

Frustrated at the lack of interest by the medical establishment in reducing the costs of diagnostic testing, and seeing almost no chance of getting the necessary research grants, Kanav Kahol returned home to New Delhi in 2011. He was a member of Arizona State University’s department of biomedical informatics. Kahol had noted that despite the similarities between most medical devices in their computer displays...

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...