What Innovation Will Define the Next Generation?
Techers share their thoughts on the ideas and inventions that will shape our world over the coming decades.
Technology for large-scale energy harvesting, such as harvesting the mechanical energy from ocean waves, road traffic movement, flag-like sheets moving in the wind, etc.
— DEBORAH CHUNG (BS ’73, MS ’73)
Offshore Wind Power
The advent of multi-10MW floating offshore wind turbines will cut the cost of production of such a no-fuel renewable energy that it should undercut any other way to produce electricity with or without fuel.
— ALAIN DELSUPEXHE (MS ’80)
Gene editing, together with improving identification of gene functions, is beginning to enable predictable genetic engineering of plants and animals. Early versions of technologies in this category already have been impacting plant and animal agriculture to a degree, but the future promises dramatic improvements in the exactitude, predictability, and safety of these technologies. As a result, we will see growing pressure to apply them to the human race.
— JOHN CROSS (PHD ’76)
As the world becomes more mobile, we are spending too much of our time en route. Something like a large-scale hyperloop network, hypersonic flight, or even short-distance space flight could be the next innovation. Of course, teleportation is the zero-time/zero-carbon ideal to aspire toward.
— DANA IONITA (BS ’03)
Batteries that are cheap, safe, reliable, and fast-charging, with 10 or more times the current capacity per volume. The effect of this on transportation and energy generation is mind-boggling. Fossil fuels would be confined to aviation, railroads, and seagoing ships.
— ORESTE LOMBARDI (BS ’55)
Virtual reality is expected to help improve brain training for cognitive performance, including concentration, reasoning, learning, visualization, imagination, and insight. It will have a far greater impact on our lives than even the revolutionary effect of worldwide digital communication and will be coupled with A.I. and robotics to completely make over the human experience.
— LYNN GLOVER JR. (MS ’64)
Simple Truth News
The public, overwhelmed and disgusted with “expert spin” (fake news), will stop watching it. Each person will choose a curated site that gives facts that truly affect him or her.
— DAN NEMZER (BS ’69)
Autonomous humanoid robots will fundamentally alter the lives of the next generation by taking on most of the everyday functions at work and home and even forming relationships with their human counterparts.
— NEIL MALHOTRA (MS ’90, ENG ’92)
Quantum computation will change the future even more than classical computers have changed the world of today. It will be possible to model a complete human brain as it learns, integrates information, thinks, imagines, experiences all emotions, composes music, writes novels, is motivated to action (through robotic output), sleeps, and may allow us to specify the spatiotemporal patterns of information flow from whence sentience necessarily emerges.
— JERRE LEVY (PhD ’70)
Immunotherapies for cancer, which will drive patients’ own immune systems to fight cancer into complete omission.
— TAD SIMONS (MS ’76)
My hope is that the really big development will be serious progress in reversing aging.
— GEORGE RAPPOLT (BS ’72)
WHAT INNOVATION DO YOU THINK WILL DEFINE THE NEXT GENERATION?
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