My articles and research on ‘Washington Post’

Love of learning is the key to success in the jobless future

Not long ago, school children chose what they wanted to be when they grew up, and later selected the best college they could gain admission to, spent years gaining proficiency in their fields, and joined a company that had a need for their skills.  Careers lasted lifetimes. Now, by my estimates, the half-life of a career is about 10 years.  I expect that it will decrease, within a decade, to five years. ...

We need a new version of capitalism for the jobless future

“There are more net jobs in the world today than ever before, after hundreds of years of technological innovation and hundreds of years of people predicting the death of work.  The logic on this topic is crystal clear.  Because of that, the contrary view is necessarily religious in nature, and, as we all know, there’s no point in arguing about religion.” These are the words of tech mogul Marc Andreessen,...

Sorry, but the jobless future isn’t a luddite fallacy

With the unemployment rate falling to 5.3 percent, the lowest in seven years, policy makers are heaving a sigh of relief. Indeed, with the technology boom in progress, there is a lot to be optimistic about. Manufacturing will be returning to U.S. shores with robots doing the job of Chinese workers; American carmakers will be mass-producing self-driving electric vehicles; technology companies will develop...

When your scale and fridge conspire to make you lose weight, the Internet of Things will have gone too far

Your toaster will soon talk to your toothbrush and your bathroom scale. They will all have a direct line to your car and to the health sensors in your smartphone. I have no idea what they will think of us or what they will gossip about, but our devices will be soon be sharing information about us — with each other and with the companies that make or support them. It’s called the Internet of Things, a fancy...

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...