My articles and research on ‘Washington Post’

Welcome to the dawn of the age of robots

Growing up, I believed that very soon we would all have robots like Rosie, from “The Jetsons,” cleaning up after us. For those out there who are too young to remember “The Jetsons,” Rosie is the family’s domestically adroit robot maid. After all, why should anyone waste time doing dishes or folding clothes? I longed for a droid friend like C-3PO, Luke Skywalker’s robot buddy from Star Wars. But Rosie...

Mobile is eating the business world, but where are all the great business apps?

Every 15 years or so, the world witnesses a profound shift in computing platforms. In the 1980s the advent of the PC heralded a shift away from mainframe computing. Then along came the Internet and an outpouring of web-based applications. Now it is mobile’s turn to eat everything. And with each tectonic shift in the technology landscape, the sheer volume of computing devices associated with it expands exponentially. The...

Why calling Asian Americans a model minority glosses over crucial issues

Asians Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) are the fastest growing racial group in the United States; their population is expected to double to more than 47 million by 2060. Yet the needs of these communities are rarely discussed,because AAPIs, in the aggregate, are also the highest-income and best-educated ethnic groups in the United States. A common perception is that they are the model minority: the doctors,...

Quantum computing is about to make big trouble for cybersecurity

“Spooky action at a distance” is how Albert Einstein described one of the key principles of quantum mechanics: entanglement.  Entanglement occurs when two particles become related such that they can coordinate their properties instantly even across a galaxy.  Think of wormholes in space or Star Trek transporters that beam atoms to distant locations.  Quantum mechanics posits other spooky things too:...

Tesla’s Powerwall is the latest step toward our clean-energy future

Most people are skeptical that we’re heading into a clean-energy future. They find it hard to believe that solar energy is fewer than 14 years away from meeting 100 percent of today’s energy needs. They argue that today solar energy hardly provides one percent of Earth’s energy needs and that we can’t effectively store sunlight — and therefore have a long way to go. But when technologies advance exponentially...

The coming problem of our iPhones being more intelligent than us

Ray Kurzweil made a startling prediction in 1999 that appears to be coming true: that by 2023 a $1000 laptop would have the computing power and storage capacity of a human brain.  He also predicted that Moore’s Law, which postulates that the processing capability of a computer doubles every 18 months, would apply for 60 years—until 2025—giving way then to new paradigms of technological change. Kurzweil...

Why there has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur

Doctor, engineer, and businessman. These were the top three career choices for the children of middle-class families in India when I was young. Doctors earned the most respect; engineers were second-best; business was something you got into if you didn’t have the chops to complete a degree. I chose the engineering route or the closest thing to it that I liked: computer science. My family had moved to the United...

Here’s how we can reinvent the classroom for the digital age

When I was in elementary school, about 50 years ago, teachers used to stand in front of a class of 40 or 50 children and write on a blackboard with chalk. To make sure the material was absorbed, the teacher asked occasional questions and assigned lots of homework. If students discussed their homework or helped each other in tests, it was called cheating, and they were punished. Today, the blackboard has become...

Apple isn’t just satisfied reinventing health care, it’s targeting clinical trials as well​

When Apple announced, last year, that it was developing a watch that had the functions of a medical device, it became clear that the company was eyeing the $3 trillion health care industry; that the tech industry sees medicine as the next frontier for exponential growth. Apple’s recent announcement of ResearchKit shows that it has an even greater ambition: It wants to also transform the pharmaceutical industry...

Here’s why patents are innovation’s worst enemy

The Founding Fathers of the United States considered intellectual property so important that they gave it a special place in the Constitution: “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” The framers of the U.S. Constitution were not wrong. Patents did serve an important purpose...

Why we should all be thrilled about the FDA starting to embrace innovation

On Feb. 19, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration took a huge step towards patient-centric medicine when it approved the marketing of genetics testing company 23andMe’s carrier test for Bloom Syndrome. This was a startling — and good — development because it affirmed the rights of consumers to drive their own health-care decisions and procedures. But it also means that it has become urgent to develop policies...

Why I’m confident that the tech industry is fixing its diversity quagmire

When Microsoft’s chief executive, Satya Nadella, commented that women should have faith in the system to give them the raises they deserve, he knew he had misspoken. His words at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, last October, caused immediate outrage. In an e-mail exchange with me after he left the stage, he wrote: “I just gave a wrong and terrible answer to the question today. I blew...