Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Year, New Hope, Better Future

I was quite busy during the holidays. Apart from attending some Christmas parties, and a couple of conferences held locally, I had to read and respond to all the press invitations coming from participating exhibitors and new product/technology creators at the International CES being held in a couple of weeks. I also updated myCES Planner correspondingly.

 All members of my immediately family were present in both my birthday and Christmas celebration. So the special events were happy and joyful. My wife, as usual, competently planned and managed the parties to everybody’s full satisfaction.

I was doubly happy this year because on my birthday, my kids decided to bring me to shop for my gift at this special place that I always avoided because of the high prices – HUGO BOSS. :)

I did have a chance to read a book that came in the mail earlier that I failed to touch. It was written by two brilliant minds that I have always admired: Peter Diamandis and Stephen Kotler entitled, “Abundance”.

The book is a fascinating and excellent antidote to pessimism. Supported by hard data, the authors believe “The Future is Better Than You Think”. They also destroy or negate the assumption of scarcity in the Old Economics. On the contrary, because of the exponential growth of new technologies, they claim that resources to sustain all of mankind would be abundant sooner not later.

In their book, Diamandis and Kotler put some historical perspective.

“The twentieth century, for example, witnessed both incredible advancement and unspeakable tragedy. The 1918 influenza epidemic killed fifty million people, World War II killed another sixty million. There were tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, and floods, even plagues of locust. Despite such unrest, this period also saw infant mortality decrease by 90 percent, maternal mortality decrease by 99%, and, overall, human lifespan increase by more than 100 percent. In the past two decades, the United States has experienced tremendous economic upheaval. Yet today, even the poorest Americans have access to a telephone, television, and a flush toilet---three luxuries that even the wealthiest couldn’t imagine at the turn of the last century. In fact, as will soon be clear, using almost any metric currently available, quality of life has improved more in the past century than ever before.”

It is about raising global standards. It is about caring and realizing that what happens “over there” impacts “over here”, because in this global world, isolation is behind us.

As they expect sufficient advanced technologies, like magic and “little miracles”, during the Age of Abundance, such great improvements would make the world a better place much faster.

As demonstrated, great strides are being attained in facing and overcoming the challenges of providing 9 billion people “Clean Water, Nutritious Food, Affordable Housing, Personalized Education, Top-tier Medical Care, and Non-polluting, Ubiquitous Energy.”

In the field of Education, the book cited the case of Stanford deciding to experiment by offering its three most popular computer science class online to the public – for FREE. Within weeks, 200,000 people from around the globe signed up. The Introduction to Artificial Intelligence course attracted whopping 160,000 students.

Earlier, MIT and other universities had offered online Open Courseware also for free. In fact, I remember downloading these free courses and putting them in our handheld devices in the Philippines a while back.

On Healthcare, the case of Costco’s project was cited. Costco launched a comprehensive Electronic Health Records (EHR) and Practice Management (PM) software and service solution nationally to healthcare providers.

It entered into an agreement with two healthcare technology leaders, Etransmedia and Allscripts, to test market the software solution on its healthcare provider members. With the early success and high demand for the solution in test markets, Costco has progressed from the test phase to full national launch.

On Food

We are familiar with genetically engineered (GE) or genetically modified (GM) crops that have tremendously great market penetration. Now we are dealing with GE Salmon soon coming to the market.

This would be significant because GE salmon’s actual rate of growth can be six to ten times faster.

On Water

“Lack of fresh water lowers living standards. In regions where the ocean is a predominate source of usable water, desalination using seawater reverse osmosis membrane technology is a viable option to create a new water supply,” said Jeff Connelly, vice president, engineered systems—water and process technologies for GE Power & Water. “GE’s advanced technologies can remove minerals and salt from brackish water, which converts previously unusable water into high-purity water for drinking, irrigation or industrial uses.”

Residents of Tarpum Bay on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas have been beneficiaries of this desalination technology.

Techno Philanthropy

There are advances in other areas which I will also discuss in future articles. But I feel that the role of Philanthropy is worth mentioning in this article to show that the future is better.

An example is Warren Buffett’s donation. His contribution of about $1.5 billion a year to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will be used to seek cures for the world's worst diseases and improve American education, Bill Gates said Monday.

As we all know, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has assets of $29.1 billion, spends money on world health, poverty and increasing access to technology in developing countries. In the United States, it focuses on education and technology in public libraries.

"There is no reason we can't cure the top 20 diseases," Gates said while appearing with Buffett during a donation ceremony at the New York Public Library.

We always end the year with optimism. The future is better than we think. This is why we say to everybody, “Happy and Prosperous New Year!

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