The most ambitious ideas are yet to be discovered.
Most current innovations have yet to reach their potential, and new innovations are essential to address the most critical issues we confront, whether that is climate change, food scarcity, water shortages, or more effective distribution of innovation itself.
Advanced technologies can be many things, but several areas, including artificial intelligence, life sciences, and software innovations provide the most potent platform for new opportunities, disruptive innovation, and value creation.
Data collection, or “big data” does not necessarily mean better applications or uses. Innovative software, ranging from large language models to innovative artificial intelligence, will be the foundational technologies enabling a new generation of applications that will make access to data more applicable, dynamic, and effective, and emerge as increasingly powerful tools.
Software applications will emerge to enable better use of available data, selecting more effective data categories and data sets, and enabling more effective communication and dynamic positioning. These innovations will create an order-of-magnitude increase in productivity and efficiency as more specifically designed and efficient applications are developed that perform well-defined tasks more effectively. Software innovation will not only boost productivity but will enhance efficacies for all professionals.
The Modern Sharpened Rock
AI is a tool, not a specific product, creating never imagined products, services, and even better tools – not unlike sharpening rocks in prehistoric days. Software enables customization and new cost-effective applications that are dynamic and malleable. Things will no longer be “hardwired” even if they rest today in rigid software.
This may mark the single most interesting innovation in software – dynamic learning creating a virtuous cycle of innovation and efficacy.
A New Industrial Revolution
Globalization has benefited many, and comparative advantage remains a real and powerful tool for nations and economic zones to thrive. Unfortunately, globalization is also under political attack and a resurgence in localizing manufacturing has driven many technology companies, especially integrated circuit and chip companies, to bring manufacturing facilities back to the United States.
However, we cannot flip a switch and suddenly fragment and localize manufacturing or trade. This is an inefficient suboptimal way to create prosperity and spark innovation. Global trade will be turbulent, and inefficient, but ultimately, the mutual benefit outweighs the imaginary political risk.
This will not be easy as we have seen, whether it’s Brexit, politics favoring isolationism, or territorial aggression in Eastern Europe, China, or Asia in general, there are enormous challenges that must be understood and overcome.
Anti-globalization is a real thing, and, dealing with reality, the drive to bring manufacturing back to the United States and North America will create opportunities for companies that provide more efficient manufacturing, technological improvements minimizing labor-based inputs, and fundamental innovations to systems and processes that were dormant because labor driven economics were so favorable from global trade. Those global labor-driven economics are diminishing, and technology must respond to local manufacturing, systems, and services.
Now that global trade is under attack, even though globalization should emerge as a better option for all, that is not going to happen anytime soon.
Innovative technologies creating more efficient manufacturing and a “New Industrial Revolution” within the United States and North America, as well as Western Europe, will create substantial economic opportunity.
Power is Prosperity
The myth of zero emissions
The carbon footprint is substantial for the pillars of modern society – steel, cement, plastics, and fertilizer. These inputs go into every product we make and enjoy, even those we believe to be “green.” This is discussed further in Vacal Smil’s book, “How the World Really Works.”
This fundamental understanding will make a distinction between hopeful fiction, aspiration, and the real world. If we want a true impact on this existential issue facing our society globally, we have to be realistic about what’s actually happening, measure it, be impactful, and do things that “make a difference” versus just having some influence. Eating a vegetable-based burger does not solve anything, and neither does driving an EV.
Software-based and science-driven solutions can offer the kind of disruptive insight drawing a clearer line to not only reducing emissions but enabling a pathway from carbon neutrality to carbon reduction. This is not happening anytime soon, but we need to be on a pathway to enable it, and interrupting that trajectory only pushes the ultimate goal further away by introducing ill-conceived legislation or misguided subsidies which take the focus away from real solutions.
It will take longer and be more challenging than we seem to be willing to accept. But it is the only solution.
Just as a good conductor gets the most out of each instrument but enables all the instruments to play together efficiently and beautifully, electric grids need to be orchestrated more efficiently, energy needs to be stored more effectively, and all energy generated must be optimized for efficient usage and production. The only solutions are artificially intelligence-driven software tools and other disruptive technologies. There is no other platform that can provide the energy needed for global prosperity while simultaneously fighting our climate crisis.
Disruptive value can be created with effective software tools and services, but also disruptive science and basic discovery that enable breakthroughs that are quantum leaps in clean energy generation and distribution.
Fusion and Geothermal Engineering
Two examples of these opportunities include nuclear fusion – converting hydrogen into helium with net positive energy generation. This is how our sun works and would be the ultimate solution if it can be scaled cost-effectively – a daunting and seemingly impossible scientific challenge.
As has been said since research and development has begun on nuclear fusion, “it has been 20 years away for 50 years.” We are making progress and capital, intelligence, and new technologies may enable the most valuable breakthrough to powering the planet.
One other example is geothermal power. The earth’s core generates enough heat for us to use its heat energy for global power. Unfortunately, we need to drill down approximately 4,000 feet to tap into this heat, but current technology limits us to less than 2,000 feet in depth. But innovations addressing geological challenges, and other massive amounts of data inputs managed with new artificial intelligence systems may enable great breakthroughs.
Power is prosperity. The world wants power. On our current curve, even with existing technologies, innovations, and behavioral changes, we are not going to achieve the impact essential for a resolution of our climate crisis. These two fundamental breakthroughs by basic science may be our essential opportunity.
Basic scientific breakthroughs, software, and AI innovations are advancing life sciences substantially. It was unimaginable that a software tool could enable drug development, but this process is now ongoing. Understanding protein function, amino acid compilation, and protein folding seemed such a massive computational problem that it was beyond human comprehension and capability. However, Deep Mind has conquered this milestone.
Protein folding AI tools have already enabled an understanding of new molecules to address critical unmet medical needs and enable more efficient therapeutic advancements while mitigating side effects and other detrimental impacts typical with any drug.
Software tools are now overlapping with life-sciences advancements to enable faster, more robust drug development, broader pipelines, and, perhaps most importantly, drug development platforms from common scientific knowledge that can enable the addressing of various diseases from more fundamental biological understanding.
An example of this is addressing intracellular inflammation. While diseases can be categorized (there are over 200 categories of cancer) there may be a more fundamental cause for disease. One of the most likely candidates is intracellular inflammation. Addressing this mechanism may enable not only cancers but heart disease and other metabolic syndromes, such as diabetes, to be addressed from a common drug development platform.
This creates dramatic efficiency, efficacy, and an understanding to address many global critical unmet medical needs.
Groundbreaking technologies like DNA sequencing, gene editing, CRISPR, and other biochemical breakthroughs have radically changed therapeutic drug and vaccine development. Combining these biochemical tools with machine learning and data management will empower the next generation of scientific discovery.
Synthetic biology creates a landscape for drug development platforms utilizing all these biochemical tools and enabling a new wave of drug development platforms built around specific biological systems. These systems can include the functioning of bacteria, plants, fungi, mRNA, etc. combined with intracellular functioning to data shared across various genomic and biological systems.
We are already seeing groundbreaking developments in vaccines addressing the current pandemic, as well as drug developments for unmet medical needs ranging from Alzheimer’s disease, various cancers, sickle cell anemia, and other seemingly impenetrable diseases.
Fundamentally, this is just understanding what evolution has understood for many years. An example is CRISPR technology, which is an extraordinary breakthrough in gene editing, but it relies on the fundamental bacterial systems for defense against viruses that is probably about 3 billion years in the making.
Evolution has solved many of our problems already. What synthetic biology represents more than anything is an ability to tap into what evolution does, using our modern software and system analysis, and creating more effective and outstanding drug development platforms and therapies.
Tools optimize analytics, create unique experimental designs, and develop the most efficient pathway through clinical trial and approval. Life sciences Platform companies enable the next generation of drug discovery and will accelerate learning, knowledge creation, innovation, and product delivery at an accelerating rate.
Despite catastrophic news regarding cryptocurrency recently, this is a sideshow compared to the disruptive nature of digital assets and software-based platforms enabling global connectivity of any investor to any opportunity anywhere in the world. While regulation and a stable underlying currency (a digital dollar, euro, etc.) are proving essential to this vision, digital technology and blockchain platforms enable this disruptive opportunity.
Global business is still a reality, and cross-border transactions and movements of funds will increase, regardless of political fragmentation and isolation. Solutions that orchestrate business and monitor financial activities across borders will become increasingly essential, both in efficiency and efficacy as well as security and stability.
Global cloud-based businesses enable greater visibility into business operations, and cash flows and the transfer of funds are the real “disintermediation” that provides value. Businesses are global, workers are remote, cross-border transactions will become more prevalent, and managing these complexities in a digital world will create great opportunities and disruptions.
Digital assets and platforms transform what was seemingly impossible due to the impenetrable complexity of intermediary systems and legal requirements can untangle this into a clear orchestration of rules, regulations, oversight, but importantly, the efficiency of transactions and movement of funds – along with verification of assets and ownership.
These opportunities are the real goldmine in financial technology. Cryptocurrency, FTX, and all the other nonsense are a hyperbolic sideshow.
Web 3.0 – or 2.5
Hyperbole sometimes undermines reality. Web 3.0 is cyberspace, not a new platform on which we create businesses, new services, or even assets. There is a place for interconnection and effective communication in cyberspace.
The winners here will be the intermediaries. Faster software networks, more efficient communications, self-monitoring, managing software systems, data network edge management systems, and faster cloud services and data links.
This is the real opportunity and developers will innovate with decentralized services, automated provisioning, self-managing software platforms, securitized localized data, and a wide range of interesting products and services delivered on a software platform.
Think of it as Web 2.5.
Software Still Wins
Over 10 years ago it was declared that “software will eat the world.” It was prescient and truer now than ever. Software is eating the world – in a good way.
Software solutions will continue to modernize every aspect of our economy, increasing the efficiency of all systems and processes, whether it is manufacturing, distribution, supply chains, or finance. Software will elevate all businesses and continue to represent the single most substantial opportunity.
Software permeates everything, whether it is life sciences, manufacturing, finance, or any other industry believed to be independent of software innovation. Embedded innovation via software defines almost every industry and enables advancements in all aspects ranging from product development, services, manufacturing, distribution, and delivery.
The software business is core to the global economy and can’t be overlooked regardless of one’s industry or how traditional or “non-technical” one believes the company or business is.
This is no longer the case. Industries are no longer too small to access technological advancements, and it is software that enables this cost-effectiveness and is the engine driving global economics.
Software will disrupt the most important industries in the world, especially finance, life sciences, and communications.
These will be the fundamental innovations that will drive value creation over the course of the next year, and from now on.