Self Help

The Industries of the Future - Alec Ross

Author Photo

Matheus Puppe

· 54 min read



  • The author worked a summer job in 1991 mopping up vomit after concerts in West Virginia. His co-workers were beaten down and represented the “losers” from the last wave of globalization and technology change.

  • Since then, the author has traveled the world and seen the forces shaping the global economy up close, both before and during his time working for Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.

  • The last wave of innovation and globalization produced winners (investors, entrepreneurs, high-skilled workers) and losers (those whose jobs were replaced by technology or moved overseas).

  • While the author was in college, globalization accelerated with the end of the Soviet Union, China’s economic reforms, the creation of the EU, NAFTA, and the launch of the internet and e-commerce.

  • The changes coming in the next wave of innovation will be as consequential as those in the 20th century and with the rise of the internet. Advances are coming in many fields across the global economy.

  • The author’s experiences from his humble beginnings to advising the Secretary of State give him a unique perspective on the transformative changes underway and how they will impact countries and people worldwide.

  • The author grew up in Charleston, West Virginia, a city built on coal mining and industrial chemicals. These industries provided stable careers but also exposed the city to global competition.

  • The author’s grandfather moved to West Virginia during the Great Depression and built several small businesses. He represented entrepreneurship in the old economy.

  • Chemical plants like Union Carbide brought economic growth to the region but also pollution. The author remembers the stench from the plants as a child.

  • The Kanawha River Valley was known as “Chemical Valley” due to the high concentration of chemical plants. At night it looked futuristic yet was extremely polluted.

  • The town of Nitro produced explosives and Agent Orange during the world wars and Vietnam War. It illustrated how local industry was tied to global conflicts.

  • Ultimately the mining and chemical industries that built up Charleston and West Virginia also led to their later decline, as they were exposed to global competition.

  • Globalization and technological advances wiped out many traditional manufacturing jobs in places like West Virginia and Detroit. Entire industries declined as production moved overseas and automation reduced the need for manual labor. This led to population loss and economic hardship in former industrial powerhouses.

  • Meanwhile, globalization and technology brought enormous economic growth to countries like India and China, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty. Access to global markets and adoption of new technologies fueled growth.

  • The book explores how future industries like robotics, biotechnology, digital finance, cybersecurity, big data, and shifting geopolitics will shape the next era of innovation and disruption.

  • There will be both opportunities and challenges as these emerging technologies transform economies and societies. The benefits may not be evenly distributed, exacerbating inequalities.

  • Fully empowering women will be critical for countries and companies to remain competitive, as innovation does not thrive in closed, restrictive environments.

  • Preparing current and future generations for the changes underway will determine who prospers in the new economy. Parenting and education that foster adaptability and lifelong learning will be key.

  • Japan’s elderly population (65+ years) is projected to increase significantly, from 25% today to 29% by 2020 and 39% by 2050. This will create a huge demand for caretakers.

  • Japan’s low birthrates mean there won’t be enough family members to care for the elderly. Strict immigration policies limit foreign workers, so there won’t be enough humans to fill the growing need.

  • Japan will have a shortage of 4 million eldercare nurses by 2025 but currently only has 1.49 million.

  • Japanese companies like Toyota, Honda, and others are developing robots to fill the void, including humanoid nurse robots and robotic limbs/exoskeletons to assist the elderly.

  • Japan leads the world in robotics and is providing government subsidies to develop eldercare robots. But challenges remain around developing robots that can provide emotional connections.

  • Aging populations in other developed nations will likely create a big market for Japanese eldercare robots in the future.

  • The “big five” in robotics are Japan, China, the U.S., South Korea, and Germany. There is a large gap between these countries and the rest of the world in robotics production and adoption.

  • The “big five” economically advanced countries (US, Japan, Germany, South Korea, Singapore) are likely to lead in robotics adoption and development. They have the economic incentives, technological capabilities, and cultural attitudes that will allow robotics to thrive.

  • Japan in particular has a cultural predisposition towards accepting robots, due to the Shinto belief in animism. This contrasts with Western cultures that have historically viewed robots with fear and caution.

  • Recent advances in modeling belief space and connecting robots to the cloud have dramatically enhanced robots’ capabilities, allowing them to take on more complex service sector jobs involving situational awareness and human interaction.

  • Improvements in materials science have led to more natural looking and dexterous robots, blurring the line between human and machine.

  • Government initiatives in countries like the US, Japan, France, and Sweden are pouring millions into robotics research and development. The robotics revolution is being actively fostered worldwide.

  • Emerging economies may be able to leapfrog in adopting robotics without first establishing advanced industrial bases, much as they leapfrogged landline phones and went straight to cellular.

  • Robotics is advancing rapidly, fueled by significant investments from both the private and public sectors. Corporations like Google are acquiring robotics companies and pouring resources into R&D.

  • The concept of “singularity” - when artificial intelligence matches or surpasses human intelligence - is hotly debated within the robotics community. Some believe it is inevitable, while others argue there are limits to how intelligent machines can become.

  • Driverless cars have been envisioned for decades but only recently has the technology advanced enough to make them viable. Companies like Google are now at the forefront of driverless car development.

  • Motivations for driverless cars include improving safety by reducing accidents, giving people more free time by eliminating driving, and enabling new business models like robot taxis.

  • While the future is uncertain, we are likely at just the beginning of a robotic revolution that will bring robots further into our workplaces and daily lives in coming decades. However, significant obstacles around regulation, ethics, and acceptance remain.

Here is a summary of the key points about the time you can spend using Google products:

  • Driverless cars and other robotics technologies have the potential to fundamentally disrupt industries like transportation and healthcare. While this could displace many human jobs, it may also improve safety and access to services. However, full adoption will depend on public trust and acceptance.

  • Surgical robots like da Vinci can enable more precise procedures, but high costs limit access. Other systems like Raven and SEDASYS make robotic surgery more affordable. However, patient safety must remain the top priority.

  • Robots are also expanding access to medical care, through innovations like VGo telepresence robots that allowed a sick child to attend school remotely. Devices like Enable Talk translate sign language to speech.

  • As robotics advances, the line between human abilities and machine capabilities will blur. This raises philosophical questions about the relationship between humans and technology.

  • Overall, robotics and AI have huge potential to transform industries and lives, but responsible development is key. Google plays a major role through investments in self-driving cars, robotics companies, AI research, and more. Public discussion on risks and benefits will shape how these technologies evolve.

  • Robots are being used in new and innovative ways, such as helping sick students like Christian attend school remotely through a robot avatar, and serving as teaching assistants in classrooms. The NAO robot from Aldebaran acts as a classroom buddy for students with autism.

  • While these new uses show robots doing things humans can’t, their main application continues to be automating human occupational roles. The term “robot” has roots linking it to servitude and forced labor.

  • Robots are becoming more economically competitive with human workers. Foxconn plans to replace 1 million workers with 1 million robots, ending job creation at their factories. This is due to rising wages in China making human labor more expensive.

  • As robot costs decrease and human wages rise, robots become more cost-effective for employers. This will likely kill many jobs, while creating some new ones. It could lead to social disruption if economies, workforces and societies are not adapted.

  • Automation now threatens service industry jobs previously shielded from mechanization. Studies suggest 47% of US jobs are at high risk of automation in the next decades.

  • The main jobs at risk are those focused on gathering and applying information, such as paralegals. This indicates another wave of globalization as white-collar jobs become automated.

Here are the key points from the passage:

  • Robots and automation will replace many human jobs, from manufacturing to service industries like restaurants and transportation. This can lead to job losses and economic disruption if societies don’t adapt.

  • Countries that manufacture and export robotics, like South Korea, Japan, and Germany, will benefit the most. Countries that rely on cheap labor, like China, are more at risk of job losses.

  • Governments need to invest in growing industries like robotics but also strengthen the social safety net to support displaced workers in pivoting to new careers. Education and skills development will be critical.

  • Wealth created by robotics should be reinvested to keep people competitive. Humans aren’t as easy to upgrade as software.

  • There are benefits of robotics too - fewer injuries, increased capabilities, etc. But the economic disruption needs to be managed at a societal level.

  • Overall, societies that can adapt their workforces and direct people towards growing industries will be the most competitive and stable. The assumption that robots have high upfront costs but no ongoing costs needs to be revised.

  • Lukas Wartman is a cancer researcher who has survived acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) three times thanks to cutting-edge genomic sequencing technology.

  • Wartman’s colleagues at Washington University sequenced his healthy genes, cancer genome, and RNA to pinpoint the genetic cause of his cancer. This allowed them to identify a drug, Sutent, that could target the malfunctioning protein spurring his cancer’s growth.

  • Genomic sequencing and personalized medicine allowed Wartman to become the first person to use Sutent for ALL. He went into remission within weeks and later received a bone marrow transplant.

  • Wartman’s story demonstrates the life-saving potential of genomics. As costs drop rapidly, genomics is poised to transform medicine by allowing truly personalized diagnosis and treatment.

  • Pioneers like Eric Lander and Bert Vogelstein helped launch the genomics revolution. Vogelstein’s “liquid biopsy” can detect tumors earlier than ever before.

  • In the future, genomics will enable targeting cancer cells precisely, organ transplantation between species, and delivering top-quality care anywhere through telemedicine. Wartman’s story is just the beginning of genomics’ vast promise for human health.

  • Bert Vogelstein has developed a revolutionary blood test that can detect cancer early by finding tumor DNA in the blood. This “liquid biopsy” could become part of routine medical checkups and dramatically improve cancer detection and survival rates.

  • Vogelstein partnered with Luis Diaz to form the company Personal Genome Diagnostics (PGDx) to bring the liquid biopsy to patients. PGDx sequences tumor and normal DNA from patients to identify cancer mutations and match them to targeted therapies.

  • While genomic sequencing has advanced rapidly, targeted drug development lags behind. Many cancers have mutations for which no targeted drugs exist yet.

  • Researchers like Lukas Wartman are working to move beyond chemotherapy to develop more customized cancer treatments based on a patient’s genomic profile. This could take 10-20 years.

  • Genomics is also expanding into diagnosing and treating brain disorders and mental illness. After years of limited treatment options, researchers hope genomics and personalized medicine can revolutionize psychiatric care.

Here is a summary of the key points about how genomics research on ants is transforming our understanding of mental health disorders:

  • Prozac, the first selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), revolutionized treatment of depression when it was approved in 1987. It led to many Americans taking antidepressants.

  • However, even with the best care today, treating depression often involves trial and error adjusting medications, as there are limited drugs that are all based on a 20+ year old formula.

  • The potential for innovation is through genomics research mapping genes relevant to psychiatry, like the work being done by Ray DePaulo at Johns Hopkins and Eric Lander at the Broad Institute.

  • Recent progress has identified about 100 genes connected to schizophrenia. More genes being discovered could lead to better targeted drugs.

  • One opportunity is in suicide prevention - a Johns Hopkins study found a gene ACP1 that is overexpressed in brains of people who attempted suicide. This could lead to a treatment to reduce the biological impulse for suicide.

  • However, there are unintended consequences of genomics that scientists worry about, like the ability to screen embryos and select for desired traits, leading to ethical issues around designer babies. Educating people on the meaningfulness of genetic risks will be crucial.

Here are the key points:

  • 23andMe originally offered ancestry information from customer DNA, but is pivoting to provide health reports and partner with drug companies. This raises concerns about people’s genetic data being commercialized without their full understanding.

  • There is a socioeconomic divide in how people can use genetic health information. Wealthy people like Sergey Brin can afford to act on it, while poorer communities may feel more powerless.

  • Companies like PGDx and BaseHealth are working to make precision medicine more accessible by lowering costs and integrating genetic data with other health factors.

  • Craig Venter is pushing the boundaries with startups working on xenotransplantation (animal-to-human organ transplantation) and reversing aging.

  • Some scientists are even trying to bring extinct species back to life, like the bucardo goat, raising ethical questions.

  • Overall, genomics is advancing rapidly, with great potential benefits but also concerns about access, privacy, commercialization, and unintended consequences that need to be addressed.

  • In 2003, scientists implanted an embryo from an extinct bucardo goat into a surrogate goat, which gave birth to a bucardo kid. However, it only lived for a few minutes. This showed the potential to bring back extinct species using advanced genomics.

  • The Revive & Restore project aims to bring back extinct animals like the carrier pigeon, heath hen, and gastric-brooding frog using their preserved DNA and surrogates. However, there are concerns about disrupting ecosystems and introducing new diseases.

  • The U.S. currently leads in genomics research due to its top universities attracting global scientific talent, research funding, and a strong biotech industry.

  • However, China is catching up rapidly, now spending 2% of its GDP on R&D. Initiatives like the Beijing Genomic Institute aim to make China the genomics leader.

  • Competition can accelerate progress, but ethical governance is needed as genomics abilities grow. China may seek to attract drug development away from the U.S. if the FDA doesn’t modernize.

  • Europe lags commercially in genomics, while India and others tend to lose top talent to the U.S. Russia squandered potential due to ideology forcing unscientific views like Lysenkoism. Overall, global cooperation should aim to ensure genomics progress benefits humanity.

  • Mobile phones are becoming ubiquitous around the world, even in developing countries, providing opportunities for innovative health care delivery. Companies like Medic Mobile are leveraging mobile phones to improve access to care in poor, rural areas.

  • Phones can be used for diagnosis, monitoring treatment compliance, connecting patients to experts, and promoting health education. Features like cameras and connectivity to medical devices expand functionality.

  • Mobile health apps like MedAfrica in Kenya are addressing doctor shortages by providing medical information, symptom checkers, doctor/hospital locators directly to patients’ phones.

  • Other examples include EyeNetra, which uses a plastic lens attachment and app to diagnose vision issues, bringing optometry access to billions lacking eye care.

  • A highly connected world enables medical task specialization, like training technicians globally to analyze routine medical scans, with experts focusing on complex cases.

  • Mobile health tech can provide faster, cheaper care by redistributing expertise and tasks, while still maintaining physician oversight.

  • The companies that will succeed in the life sciences over the next decades will utilize mobile and internet connectivity to distribute quality care more equitably worldwide.

  • Money has historically been something physical that you hold and exchange, reflected in the names of currencies like “peso” and “pound.” But over the past 50 years, financial conveniences like credit cards, ATMs, online banking, and mobile banking have allowed us to move away from physical cash.

  • As our genomes are decoded over the next 20 years, money is also becoming “coded” - turned into 1s and 0s and wrapped in encryption. This “code-ification” of money through digital payments and currencies is the next big revolution in finance.

  • Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and Square, aims to make it so you can leave your physical wallet at home. Square allows customers to pay with their phones by scanning a code - no need to take out a credit card. This makes transactions faster and more convenient.

  • The inspiration for Square came when Dorsey’s partner lost a $2,000 sale because he couldn’t accept an American Express card. They realized credit card technology lagged behind mobile tech advances.

  • Square is part of fierce competition over digital payments and currencies, which will open up new financial possibilities. But it also raises concerns around security, privacy, and centralized control. Ultimately, the code-ification of money requires updating the compact between corporation, citizen, and government.

  • Square was founded to enable small transactions that big credit card companies overlooked. It aimed to eliminate complicated fees charged to merchants.

  • Square and competitors like Stripe are trying to reduce friction and costs in payments to empower small businesses and the “little guy”.

  • Square taps into the trend toward more local, offline experiences and makes it easy for anyone to start a business.

  • Similar innovations are needed globally, especially in places like the West Bank where lack of digital payments and internet connectivity hampers economic growth.

  • Coded markets like eBay and PayPal are expanding worldwide, with major players emerging from China (Alibaba’s Alipay) and Africa (mobile payments in Congo).

  • Mobile payments in refugee camps and elsewhere in Africa show the huge potential for coded markets to economically empower those without traditional banking. Phones become payment systems.

  • Overall, coded markets are going global, reaching isolated communities and linking emerging markets to the global economy. They create new opportunities for individuals worldwide to participate in digital commerce and finance.

Here is a summary of the key points about mobile phones:

  • Mobile phones have become ubiquitous in Africa, with over 80% of Africans now owning one. This has happened rapidly, going from just 3% in 2002 to over 80% today.

  • They help keep families and communities connected, allowing people to stay in touch even when displaced from their homes. This makes it easier to reunite separated families.

  • Mobile money services like M-Pesa in Kenya have taken off, allowing people to store and transfer money through their phones. This has increased financial inclusion.

  • Remittances from abroad are a major source of income in Africa. Mobile money is making it cheaper and easier for remittances to be sent, reducing fees from around 12% to as low as 0.4%.

  • Mobile phones and services are attracting entrepreneurs and investors to Africa, seeing it as an exciting growth market. People like Mo Ibrahim have shown it’s possible to build successful telecom businesses there.

  • Some believe improved governance and reduced corruption will be key for mobile phones and digital financial services to positively transform African economies. Initiatives like Mo Ibrahim’s foundation that promote better leadership are seen as important.

  • Mo Ibrahim founded a mobile communications company that improved economic and social conditions in Africa. He created a leadership prize to encourage African leaders to pursue similar goals, but has struggled to find recipients who meet the criteria.

  • Digital networks and governance can rise together, as shown by a project in Congo setting up electronic salary payments for soldiers to reduce corruption by generals who previously stole the money.

  • Coded trust has enabled the rise of e-commerce platforms like eBay where buyers and sellers trust each other through algorithm-generated ratings despite never meeting.

  • The sharing economy (e.g. Airbnb, Uber) uses technology and ratings systems to create trust and new peer-to-peer marketplaces, turning underutilized assets into microenterprises. However, these are still commercial businesses, not ideologically motivated “sharing.”

  • By concentrating transactions through proprietary platforms, coded markets like eBay and Airbnb simultaneously disperse economic activity to individuals while concentrating power and profits to the platforms.

The power of coded markets is concentrated in companies based in California or China, according to Charlie Songhurst. He provides the example of Uber consolidating the taxi industry and transferring wealth from local cab companies to Silicon Valley. However, the impact is mitigated by the fact that platform companies like Uber will go public, distributing ownership more widely. Also, new value is created locally by services like Airbnb. The sharing economy has helped people earn supplemental income during the economic crisis. Millennials are more comfortable with app-based services. In the future, specialized labor could also be exchanged on peer-to-peer marketplaces. This provides flexibility but reduces worker protections, which may hurt the working class over time.

The rise of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin demonstrates how digital technology could potentially replace traditional institutions like banks and governments in establishing trust and enabling commerce globally. Bitcoin offers a case study for how currency may become more code-based in the future.

  • Bitcoin is a digital currency created in 2008 by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto to be decentralized and avoid reliance on governments, banks, and traditional financial institutions.

  • It works through a public ledger called the blockchain that records all transactions transparently and prevents counterfeiting or double spending. This establishes digital trust without needing centralized institutions.

  • New bitcoins are generated through a process called mining, where computers compete to solve complex algorithms that validate transactions and add new blocks to the blockchain. This regulates the money supply in a decentralized way.

  • Bitcoin represents a technological breakthrough in enabling trusted online transactions without centralized authorities. It comes out of libertarian, anti-government ideologies skeptical of fiat currencies dependent on state power.

  • By 2014, Bitcoin was gaining more mainstream adoption, with major companies accepting it. But it remains highly volatile and speculative as a financial asset.

  • Its decentralized, libertarian origins and lack of ties to governments challenge traditional conceptions of currency and financial regulation.

  • Bitcoin’s blockchain technology has never been hacked, but many elements surrounding Bitcoin like exchanges and wallets have been compromised. This has contributed to controversy and confusion about Bitcoin.

  • Douglas Saidenberg, a 29 year old financial analyst, got into Bitcoin investing and had over 60 bitcoins stored on the Mt. Gox exchange.

  • In May 2013, his Mt. Gox account was hacked, his password changed, and his bitcoins stolen, showing that even reputable exchanges like Mt. Gox were vulnerable.

  • Saidenberg emailed Mt. Gox after the hack but they said the transactions were irreversible. This demonstrated flaws in consumer protections with Bitcoin exchanges at the time.

  • For Bitcoin to live up to its potential, improvements need to be made in the security of wallets, exchanges, and payment systems surrounding the blockchain technology. More robust consumer protections also need to be in place.

Here are a few key points about the blockchain and its relationship with the establishment:

  • Early on, Bitcoin and blockchain technology faced skepticism and criticism from mainstream economists, government officials, and Wall Street. People like Alan Greenspan, Paul Krugman, and Nouriel Roubini questioned its value and utility as a currency.

  • However, views have evolved as the technology has become better understood. There is now more openness to the potential benefits of blockchain technology in enabling secure, low-cost digital transactions.

  • Larry Summers originally doubted Bitcoin’s importance, calling it unlikely to be a major geopolitical force. But 18 months later, he recognized the potential of blockchain technology to facilitate monetary exchange, even joining the advisory board for the bitcoin security company Xapo.

  • Governments and banks, which initially dismissed cryptocurrencies, are now exploring blockchain technology to reduce transaction costs for payments and settlements. Established players see potential uses for blockchain tech even if they remain skeptical of Bitcoin itself.

  • Overall, while skepticism remains in some quarters, there is growing acceptance that blockchain technology could have useful applications to improve efficiency and security in many types of digital transactions. The establishment has moved from outright dismissal to a nuanced view recognizing both positives and negatives of this new technology.

Here is a summary of the key points about Bitcoin company Reid Hoffman funded with the underground vaults:

  • In April 2015, Reid Hoffman’s venture capital firm Greylock Partners invested $50 million in Bitcoin company Xapo.

  • Xapo provides underground vault storage for people’s bitcoins. The company stores bitcoins in secret vaults buried deep underground and protected by armed guards.

  • The investment from Greylock and other firms like Goldman Sachs showed growing mainstream acceptance of blockchain technology, even as governments struggled to regulate Bitcoin itself.

  • Bitcoin’s decentralized and pseudonymous nature makes it useful for illegal activities, but it is also more transparent than cash because all transactions are recorded permanently in the public blockchain ledger.

  • The blockchain technology behind Bitcoin has broader potential as a protocol for trusted transactions beyond just cryptocurrency. It could disrupt industries like banking, law, and accounting by eliminating expensive third-party intermediaries.

  • However, for the blockchain to go mainstream, Bitcoin may need to move away from anonymity towards real identity verification, which could drive away some early libertarian supporters.

In summary, Reid Hoffman funded a Bitcoin company providing underground vault storage, showing rising Silicon Valley interest in blockchain technology, which could become a major new protocol beyond its cryptocurrency origins if it evolves to enable trusted transactions between identified parties.

Here are the key points from the passage:

  • In August 2012, the Shamoon virus infected and wiped out the computers of Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest energy company, in an attack linked to Iran.

  • The virus rapidly spread through the company’s network, overwriting and destroying data on thousands of computers. It was designed to be unrecoverable.

  • The attack aimed to disrupt Saudi oil production, which would have damaged Saudi Arabia’s economy and served Iran’s interests. Though it did not impact production, it revealed vulnerabilities.

  • Saudi Aramco had to shut down its network and replace 30,000 infected computers. The attack showed that even the world’s most valuable company was vulnerable to cyberattacks.

  • This demonstrated to business leaders worldwide the threats posed by cyberattacks even to well-protected firms, emphasizing the need for strong cybersecurity.

The passage illustrates how code is being weaponized by some actors to attack and disrupt critical infrastructure, representing a kind of “Code War” that has succeeded the Cold War.

  • Cyberattacks are increasingly common and damaging, with costs exceeding $400 billion per year globally. The three main types are confidentiality attacks (stealing data), availability attacks (denial-of-service), and integrity attacks (destroying systems).

  • Major cyber powers include the U.S., China, Russia, Israel, Iran, and the U.K. The U.S. views cyberspace as a domain of warfare like air, land, sea, and space. However, the U.S. prohibits corporate espionage against foreign companies.

  • China has aggressively used cyber capabilities for economic espionage against foreign companies. China began heavily investing in cyber military capabilities in the late 1990s.

  • Cyberattacks can have major financial impacts, such as the 2013 Target data breach which led to billions in losses. Even simple attacks like phishing can cause market disruption.

  • As cyber threats have grown, so has the cybersecurity industry, now a $175 billion market. Cyber expertise is becoming essential for major corporations and governments.

  • China has been aggressively pursuing cyberespionage against foreign companies and governments, especially the U.S., to steal intellectual property and trade secrets. This benefits Chinese state-owned enterprises at the expense of foreign companies. Losses to U.S. companies from this theft are estimated at over $300 billion annually.

  • China’s most advanced cyber unit, PLA Unit 61398, has been implicated in attacks against companies across nearly every major industry sector. Five officers from this unit were indicted by the U.S. in 2014.

  • China denies involvement despite extensive evidence. The Chinese have capacity to undertake destructive attacks but are invested in economic stability and growth, so they steal rather than break things.

  • Other nations like Iran and North Korea have used cyberattacks more for disruption, as with Iran’s Shamoon attack and North Korea’s hack of Sony Pictures. North Korea’s internet outage after the Sony hack was likely China’s punishment for acting without their approval.

  • The Internet of Things will connect billions of new devices in coming years but lacks sufficient cybersecurity, making it vulnerable. The Target breach shows the risks of insecure systems being breached.

  • The Internet of Things connects many devices and systems, which increases vulnerability to hacking. The Target hack shows how a small vendor being compromised can lead to massive data breaches.

  • Hacking into connected devices like cars, pacemakers, and home appliances could potentially cause physical harm. Their computing power could also be harnessed for illegal activities like cryptocurrency mining.

  • Government cybersecurity experts like Jim Gosler warn that cyberattacks pose a huge threat due to society’s dependence on technology. Vital infrastructure like GPS could be disrupted.

  • There is a shortage of skilled cybersecurity personnel in government compared to the private sector. More need to be recruited and trained to defend against major threats.

  • Cyberattacks are seen as a bigger long-term national security threat than terrorism. There needs to be greater cooperation between government and the private sector, as well as internationally, to improve cyberdefense.

Here is a summary of the key points from the passage:

  • Senior ex-CIA officials like Jim Gosler express serious concerns about cyberweaponization, based on their experience with highly sensitive information.

  • In contrast, many Silicon Valley technologists are more optimistic and less concerned, as they haven’t seen the threats averted by government.

  • Russia has shown it is willing to use cyberattacks, as seen in Ukraine, Georgia, and Estonia, often in conjunction with military operations.

  • Cyberwarfare is a 21st century form of conflict without established norms or laws. It’s the most significant development in warfare since nuclear weapons.

  • Unlike nuclear weapons, the barriers to developing cyberweapons are very low. Any country or rogue group can develop cyber capabilities.

  • There is little international agreement on containing cyberweapons, unlike with nuclear arms control treaties. Cyberwarfare remains uncontrolled and unpredictable.

Here is a summary of the key points about cyber capabilities:

  • Cyberweapons can be created easily and cheaply with just a computer, internet connection, and some coding skills. Development is hard to trace.

  • Cyberattacks increasingly target companies directly rather than just countries. This blurs the lines of responsibility for responding.

  • The internet scrambles traditional ideas of geography in conflicts. Unclear if a cyberattack should be viewed as against a company’s country of headquarters or where its servers are located.

  • Growth of the Internet of Things will bring new privacy concerns as more objects can be used for surveillance.

  • Alliances over cyber activities are fractured, unlike the clear Cold War divide. For example European allies condemned US cyber practices after Snowden revelations.

  • There is little prospect of international laws or treaties establishing cyber norms. The US won’t limit intelligence gathering and China won’t admit industrial espionage.

  • The US is increasingly partnering with private sector on cybersecurity. But substantial cooperation is still needed.

  • Cybersecurity is one of the fastest growing industries, potentially doubling in size in the next 5-10 years as more of life moves online.

  • Data is the raw material of the information age, just as land was the raw material of the agricultural age and iron was the raw material of the industrial age.

  • The author recalls his carefree childhood, when he and his friends could disappear into the woods for hours without adult supervision or any way for their parents to monitor or contact them. This level of freedom is unthinkable for today’s children.

  • Now even young kids have cell phones, so they can be tracked and contacted at all times by their parents. The author’s 13-year-old son is reachable in this way.

  • This constant connectivity generates huge amounts of data about people’s activities, locations, communications, purchases, and more.

  • Companies like Google, Facebook, and others collect this data, analyze it, and use it to target advertising and services back to users.

  • Data has become one of the most valuable resources in the world. It fuels the business models of the big tech companies.

  • There are calls for individuals to have more control over their personal data, but the big platforms resist because data is so core to their business models.

  • Going forward, debates over data - who controls it, who benefits from it - will be central. Data is the lifeblood of the information age.

  • Children today are in constant digital contact with friends and family via phones and social media. This results in a huge amount of data being generated about them from an early age.

  • In contrast, previous generations like the author’s had a more “offline” childhood with no emails, texts, or social media.

  • The amount of digital data being created has exploded in recent years. 90% of the world’s data has been generated in the last 2 years alone.

  • Digitization has enabled massive data collection and analysis on a scale not possible with analog/paper records.

  • The Obama campaigns pioneered the use of “big data” analytics to optimize fundraising, advertising, and voter targeting. This gave them a huge advantage.

  • Big data combines large datasets with real-time analysis and processing power to enable smarter and faster decision making. It represents a new capability.

  • Big data is both intimate (micro-level insights) and expansive (seeing macro patterns). It acts as both a microscope and a telescope.

  • So far, big data has proven very valuable in fields like logistics, advertising, and elections where persuasion and optimization are important. Its implications for other domains remain to be seen.

  • Machine translation using big data will allow people to converse in dozens of languages, eliminating language barriers. Accuracy will improve exponentially as more data is gathered.

  • Earpieces will provide real-time translation, whispering translations to the listener. Voices will be recreated to sound like the original speaker. This will accelerate globalization by removing the need for a shared language.

  • Machine translation will open up new markets by making places with many obscure local languages more accessible to outside investors.

  • Professional translators will largely be replaced by translation software, with just a small number needed to account for slang and shorthand.

  • Fraud may increase as voices can be falsely recreated. We may need to look each other in the eye more to believe what is said.

  • Big data and precision agriculture will be crucial for feeding the world’s growing population in the face of climate change and scarce resources. Data on weather, soil conditions, etc. will allow extremely targeted use of water, fertilizers, pesticides. This will increase yields.

  • Precision agriculture will allow farming to be targeted and optimized down to the square inch using data from sensors, GPS, weather models, and algorithms. This will allow customized application of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, etc. based on the specific needs of each part of a farm.

  • Large agribusinesses like Monsanto, DuPont, and John Deere are making early investments in precision agriculture, but startups may lead innovation. The costs will come down over time, making precision agriculture accessible to small farmers too.

  • Precision agriculture can help address food scarcity issues in developing countries like India by making scarce resources like water and fertilizer more efficient. It can provide expertise where national networks of agronomists are lacking.

  • By optimizing fertilizer, pesticide, and water use, precision agriculture can reduce agricultural pollution from fertilizer runoff and greenhouse gas emissions.

  • In finance, big data is enabling high-frequency algorithmic trading. The next application is “fintech” - using big data and algorithms to improve retail banking services and operations. This can modernize outdated banking infrastructure and provide better financial inclusion.

Here is a summary of the key points about fintech innovation and the banking industry:

  • Technology in banks is outdated, with many still running systems from the 1980s/1990s, while tech companies innovate rapidly.

  • Fintech startups are raising billions in investments and forcing large banks to overhaul their tech. Banks struggled during the financial crisis due to poor interoperability of dozens of legacy systems.

  • Banks are starting to see themselves as tech/data companies and are engaging with startups. Fintech aims to improve banks’ use of data and interactions with customers.

  • Zac Townsend co-founded fintech startup Standard Treasury, bought by Silicon Valley Bank. He explains banks are essentially data companies that are just realizing this.

  • Fintech could make banking more transparent to customers. Tech companies could potentially build better banks leveraging data/analytics. Regulatory hurdles have prevented this so far.

  • Legacy banks’ data issues contributed to the financial crisis, according to Zac. Fintech startups like Square are using transaction data to offer loans, showing the power of data.

  • Palantir is a secretive tech company that provides powerful data analytics capabilities, transforming messy data into visualized maps and charts. Originally focused on government clients like the CIA and military, it now works extensively with corporations as well.

  • Palantir’s capabilities allow it to identify patterns and connections in vast amounts of data that humans would miss. This can be used for good purposes like detecting fraud, but could also enable targeting and surveillance if misused.

  • Once our personal data is collected, it is largely permanent and can be used in ways we did not intend or foresee. This is especially concerning for young people whose youthful digital footprints may haunt them later in life.

  • Jared Cohen warns that “data permanence” will require new conversations between parents and children at young ages about online activity and privacy. Schools will also need to evolve to educate students on managing their digital trails.

  • The broader point is that powerful analytics on permanent digital data can be used for both good and ill. As these technologies spread, we lose control over our information and how it might be exploited in the future.

  • Privacy is being eroded by the rise of big data, with intimate personal information increasingly being collected, stored, and shared without people’s knowledge or consent. This includes sensitive data like health records and genomic information.

  • Government surveillance and corporate data gathering both contribute to the loss of privacy. Individuals also compromise privacy through ubiquitous data collection technologies like cell phone cameras.

  • Strong privacy regulations in Europe have been difficult to enact and enforce due to the global nature of data collection and the economic incentives to avoid restrictions.

  • We may have reached a point where complete privacy is no longer feasible. Norms around privacy and scandalous behavior will likely shift as more personal data becomes public.

  • Beyond privacy, big data also raises concerns about people becoming more machine-like as algorithms guide more of our choices and reduce serendipity and spontaneity.

  • Steps should be taken to protect our most sensitive information, like genetic data, through rules on data retention and use. Overall, the benefits of big data must be balanced with the need to preserve human autonomy and dignity.

Here are the key points in summarizing the passage on big data:

  • Critics warn that an overreliance on data and algorithms can lead to losing creativity and independent thought. Data analysis lacks narrative and contextual understanding.

  • Big data has limitations - it failed to predict the Ebola outbreak and then wildly overestimated its spread. It can find spurious correlations in large datasets.

  • Algorithms can potentially reinforce bias, discrimination, and inequality by using historical data that embeds prejudice. Big data lacks values and creativity.

  • However, big data also has benefits like enabling cancer detection and helping to solve global food challenges.

  • The best approach may be blending quantitative data with human qualitative judgment and ethics. We have a short window to establish norms around managing data before patterns become entrenched. Humans should maintain responsibility for big data rather than ceding decisions entirely to machines.

In summary, big data is a powerful but ethically complicated technology that requires oversight and wisdom to steer it toward benevolent ends rather than simply accept its outputs and inherent biases uncritically. Blending data-driven and humanistic approaches may allow society to harness its benefits while mitigating its risks. The decisions we make today about data governance will shape its trajectory for decades to come.

  • Creating a “next” Silicon Valley is very difficult because Silicon Valley has decades of head start in creating the perfect environment for Internet businesses.

  • For emerging fields like genomics, robotics, and cybersecurity, domain expertise is still distributed globally. Early geographic leaders exist but it’s too early to say they will dominate long-term.

  • In some cases like fintech, entrepreneurs still gravitate to Silicon Valley for its innovation culture rather than traditional centers of banking expertise like New York and London.

  • There is debate whether big data expertise will centralize more industries in Silicon Valley or allow more distributed innovation globally.

  • One view is that Silicon Valley software/data prowess will swallow industries, causing massive centralization. The counterview is big data will enable more distributed innovation.

  • Overall, the industries of the future offer new innovation opportunities globally, though Silicon Valley retains significant influence. Where domain expertise develops remains fluid.

The article discusses differing views on whether Silicon Valley will dominate the big data economy in the future or if big data innovation and wealth creation will be more geographically dispersed.

One view holds that Silicon Valley companies will leverage their expertise in algorithms, servers, and processing power to dominate all industries. The opposing view argues that big data tools will become widely available, allowing domain experts across industries and geographies to innovate using big data tailored to their needs.

The article provides examples supporting the latter view - Germany leveraging logistics expertise, Boston using biotech strength for health data, etc. An example from New Zealand illustrates how pairing domain expertise in dairy farming with big data analytics led to a surge in beef exports to China.

The author concludes that big data will enable more geographically diverse innovation hubs specialized in domain expertise, rather than concentrated in Silicon Valley. However, industries that fail to adapt quickly may lose out to Silicon Valley disrupters. Overall, big data should spur innovation across the world compared to the concentrated benefits of the internet era.

  • Cities are hubs of innovation and economic growth due to the flow of ideas, talent, and capital. Major “alpha” cities like London, New York, and Shanghai drive the global economy.

  • Infrastructure investments and data analytics make cities more attractive and efficient, further fueling growth. Countries try to make their cities global hubs through such investments.

  • However, technology allows businesses to thrive outside major urban centers. Maria Umar built a successful freelancing network of women in remote Pakistan through the internet and social media.

  • Open and connected cultures tend to foster economic dynamism, even in politically closed countries. The most forward-looking cities welcome the world rather than shutting it out.

  • Maria Umar founded the Women’s Digital League, an online platform connecting women freelancers in Pakistan with clients worldwide. Despite restrictions in Pakistan, the internet allowed Maria’s team to do business globally.

  • Maria used LinkedIn to build her reputation and get endorsements, leading to more clients. She leveraged her network to complete projects by parceling out work.

  • Maria aims to empower women in restrictive environments through flexible remote work. She hopes to expand the model to the Middle East and Arab world.

  • The story contrasts Maria’s success through openness with Russia’s restrictive internet policies under Putin. Putin believes the internet makes people “mentally handicapped” and imposes stringent controls.

  • Unlike open societies, Russia’s economy is stifled by Putin’s closed, paranoid policies. Openness, not control, is key for innovation and economic growth in the 21st century information economy.

  • After gaining independence from the Soviet Union, Estonia embarked on free market reforms and opened its economy to the world. It privatized state-owned firms, cut subsidies, lowered trade barriers, and welcomed foreign investment.

  • Estonia upgraded its technological infrastructure, moving rapidly to adopt digital networks and online services. Internet access was enshrined as a human right.

  • The open, innovation-focused strategy brought rapid economic growth, with Estonia receiving high levels of foreign investment and developing a thriving tech sector. GDP per capita increased over 15-fold.

  • In contrast, Belarus remained economically closed under an autocratic government. It has a state-controlled economy with little innovation.

  • Estonia is now a global leader in digital government services, including e-residency which allows anyone to register for an Estonian digital identity card and access services like company registration.

  • The key factors in Estonia’s success were political courage, openness to the world, and a willingness to adopt new digital technologies and governance models.

Here’s a summary of the key points:

  • Estonia and Belarus adopted different political and economic models after the fall of the Soviet Union. Estonia embraced an open, innovative system that helped it prosper, while Belarus adopted a closed authoritarian system.

  • Estonia’s e-residency program allows anyone to register an EU-based company online. This injects revenue, attracts talent, and enhances Estonia’s international competitiveness. The program reflects Estonia’s openness and innovation.

  • Estonia invests heavily in education, especially IT skills starting in grade school. This prepares citizens for the digital economy and levels the playing field for a small country competing globally.

  • Ukraine is torn between Western-style openness and Russian-style authoritarianism. Its potential is squandered by corruption and lack of innovation, driving talent like WhatsApp founder Jan Koum abroad.

  • Ukraine’s new post-Maidan government aims to create conditions for innovators to thrive at home. But the clash between open and closed systems continues across the world.

  • Technology empowers citizens with information and networks, eroding state control. Leaders cite this as their biggest challenge. Open, innovative societies like Estonia harness technology’s power, while closed systems resist it.

  • Connection technologies like social media are empowering citizens and networks, diffusing power away from centralized authorities like governments and media companies. How states respond to this loss of control will impact their economies.

  • Open societies tend to thrive economically compared to closed ones. But some countries like Singapore, China, and India have achieved growth with economic openness and political restrictions. Their long-term viability remains uncertain.

  • With 5.4 million people, Singapore is a diverse, religiously tolerant society with economic openness but limits on free expression. It is highly innovative and successful economically.

  • China and India together comprise over 1/3 of world population. Their rapid development has lifted millions from poverty. Their future trajectories will bring transformative change.

  • China has shown growth is possible with economic openness and political control. But its limits on free expression and copycat innovation have hindered advanced innovation so far. It now aims to become a global innovation hub.

  • India’s democracy and regulatory inefficiencies have hindered manufacturing and infrastructure, unlike China’s centralized planning. But India maintains a relatively pluralistic society amidst its unwieldy governance.

  • The contrast between China’s state control and India’s inefficient democracy has impacted their development trajectories. Striking an optimal balance remains a central challenge.

  • India has focused on producing a large number of engineers and IT talent, establishing elite institutes of technology and management, but has neglected primary education. Improving primary education is key for India’s future as an innovation center.

  • China and India lack education investments compared to tiny Singapore, which can compete with China in innovation due to its strong primary education system.

  • Countries worldwide face the same choices between open and closed economic models. Some Latin American countries like Chile and Colombia are adapting well, while others like Venezuela remain stuck in the past due to controlling governments.

  • Oil-rich Muslim countries have so far gotten away with closed societies but high GDPs due to oil wealth. As reserves dry up, they will need to open up and pivot to knowledge industries. Saudi Arabia’s KAUST university shows some progress but operates in a closed way detrimental to innovation.

  • Empowering all citizens, especially women, is crucial for countries’ success. Malala Yousafzai’s shooting in Pakistan shows the obstacles still faced by women in many societies.

Here are the key points:

  • Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old Pakistani girl, was shot in the face by the Taliban for advocating for girls’ education. This shows the bleak outlook for women’s rights and empowerment in Pakistan.

  • Empowering women and giving them access to education is crucial for a country’s economic development and competitiveness. Pakistan’s gender inequality holds it back.

  • In contrast, Indonesia, the largest Muslim-majority nation, embraces Islam while giving women more rights and opportunities. This positions Indonesia better for future economic growth.

  • China has actively promoted women’s equality since the Mao era, helping drive its economic rise. Women hold senior roles in business and government.

  • Japan, despite its development, has marginalized women in business. Cultural barriers combined with long work hours make it difficult for Japanese women to stay in the workforce after having children. This has contributed to Japan’s economic stagnation.

The key insight is that nations who empower women reap economic and competitive benefits, while those who restrict women fall behind. Women’s equality and participation is not just an issue of rights, but critical for a country’s economic success.

  • Young parents in Japan often live with or near their parents in intergenerational households. Caregiving duties are split - young parents work and earn income when they are in their 20s/30s, while grandparents help raise grandchildren when they are in their 50s/60s.

  • Prime Minister Abe wants to change policies to support working women rather than stay-at-home wives, with a goal of having women in 30% of leadership roles by 2020. More women in the workforce could boost Japan’s GDP by 16%.

  • Young people and “digital natives” are crucial for competing in the industries of the future, as seen by the young staff running digital operations for Obama’s campaigns. Venture capitalists in Silicon Valley readily invest in entrepreneurs in their 20s.

  • Africa has potential to leapfrog in development through frugal innovation, given its fast-growing and youthful population. Examples like M-Pesa show ingenuity in solving problems like banking. Africa’s economies are growing quickly and its tech-savvy youth are starting companies and working remotely. Initiatives like Andela are connecting Africa’s talent with global employers.

  • During my time as Secretary of State, I saw many examples of African entrepreneurs using technology to build innovative solutions to local problems. These include Grainy Bunch, an app to stabilize Tanzania’s grain market, and iCow, an app providing information to small dairy farmers in Kenya.

  • Africa has high rates of gender parity in entrepreneurship compared to other regions. Empowering women economically has coincided with Africa’s period of strongest growth.

  • Rwanda has rebuilt itself after genocide with a knowledge-based economy at its core. It has invested heavily in fiber optic networks, and aims to leapfrog directly to a knowledge economy rather than go through an industrial phase.

  • Rwanda has also prioritized gender equality through legal reforms. Female representation in leadership roles exceeds that of the U.S.

  • Africa’s convergence of a young population, economic growth, and rapid technology adoption holds great promise. Its solutions demonstrate how innovation can happen anywhere with the right conditions.

  • Societies that embrace openness, including economic and political empowerment of women and entrepreneurs, will be best positioned to compete in the future. Africa shows there has never been a better time to invest and do business there.

  • The most important job for the author is being a father to his three children. He wonders what the future economy will be like for them and what skills they will need.

  • To find out, he asked many people he interviewed for this book what attributes kids need to succeed in tomorrow’s economy. There was no single answer, but some common themes emerged.

  • The stories of young people like 24-year-old venture capitalist Sheel Tyle and 34-year-old Jared Cohen illustrate important skills: having a global perspective and immersing yourself in other cultures and markets. Their parents exposed them to the wider world through travel, which set them on a path to success.

  • Fluency in other languages and cultures will be increasingly important as business becomes more global. Fluency in technical languages like computer programming will also be critical for high-growth industries like big data and robotics.

  • Today’s parents have tools like online language programs to expose their kids to the world. The choices middle-class parents make can set their kids up for upward mobility.

  • Learning technical languages like programming is becoming increasingly important. Charlie Songhurst argues this need is short-term, but others like Jack Dorsey see lasting benefits in teaching logical thinking.

  • Traditional liberal arts skills of analytical thinking will remain relevant. There is a need for hybrid skills merging liberal arts and technical fields.

  • Programming resources like Codeacademy and Scratch are democratizing access to technical skills globally.

  • Economic opportunity is spreading beyond the West to emerging markets like Africa. Investors and businesses need to be mobile and cross-cultural.

  • Young digital natives will drive innovation in fields like cybersecurity and big data.

  • Globalization has created unprecedented economic opportunity and reduced poverty for millions.

  • Leaders must shape policy to extend future opportunities to more people. The author’s tough jobs gave him character and made him who he is.

  • The late 20th century saw massive economic and political changes, including the fall of the Soviet Union, economic reforms in India and China, trade agreements like NAFTA, and the rise of high-skill labor markets.

  • These changes dramatically impacted places like South Charleston, West Virginia, which had been dependent on chemical plants and steel mills. Between 1960-1990, its population fell by half and unemployment rose.

  • Similar declines happened in old industrial cities like Pittsburgh, Manchester, and Marseilles.

  • Meanwhile, emerging economies like India and China saw rapid development and huge improvements in life expectancy, incomes, and living standards. Their economies are now among the world’s largest.

  • The introduction sets up a contrast between declining industrial towns in developed countries and the rise of developing economies based on new technologies and industries. It hints that the future will require adapting to seismic economic shifts, much as these places had to adapt when manufacturing declined.

Thank you for providing this detailed overview of robotics trends in Japan, Europe, the US, and globally. Here are the key points:

  • Japan is investing heavily in robotics and automation to address its aging population. It currently has the highest proportion of elderly citizens, and this is projected to increase further.

  • Japanese companies have developed robots like Honda’s Asimo humanoid and PARO the therapeutic robot seal to assist the elderly and infirm. The government is funding the development of affordable elder care robots.

  • Europe also faces an aging population, though not as extreme as Japan’s currently. Some countries are early adopters of industrial robots.

  • Robotics research is advancing through government funding in the US and companies like Google. There is also growing venture capital investment in AI and robotics startups.

  • Some predict an impending AI “singularity” with superhuman intelligence, while others argue this is still far off if possible at all. The debate continues on the implications of advancing AI.

  • In summary, aging populations, particularly in Japan, are driving robotics innovation to assist with elder care. Research is rapidly advancing in universities and companies worldwide, with increasing private investment. Concerns remain about the risks of highly intelligent AI.

Here is a summary of the key points from the article:

  • Robotics and artificial intelligence are advancing rapidly, transforming fields like manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, education, and more. Companies like Foxconn plan to replace many factory workers with robots. Self-driving cars being developed by Google and others could prevent many accidents caused by human error.

  • These technological advancements raise concerns about humans being replaced by machines, especially for low-wage jobs. Over 2 million people work as restaurant servers in the U.S. - their jobs could be threatened by tablet-ordering systems and robot servers.

  • Young people are especially vulnerable, with high youth unemployment rates globally. Developing countries are also impacted as they industrialize and manufacturing moves from human labor to automation.

  • On the positive side, technology like surgical robots can complement human doctors and enable new medical procedures. AI and robotics have the potential to take over dangerous, repetitive, and unpleasant tasks, freeing up humans for more creative and meaningful work.

  • The key question is how to manage this transition and disruption to ensure technologies benefit all of society, not just an elite few. Education, job training programs, and policies around employment and inequality will be critical in determining the future human-machine relationship.

Here is a summary of the key points from the sources:

  • The Human Genome Project was an international research effort that successfully sequenced the entire human genome. It was completed in 2003 after 13 years of work, under budget at a cost of $3 billion.

  • Mapping the genome was led by scientists like Eric Lander. Lander helped found the Broad Institute, a genomics research center.

  • The genomics market is growing rapidly, estimated at $10.5 billion in 2018. Scientists like Ronald Davis believe genomics will transform medicine.

  • Bert Vogelstein is a pioneering cancer researcher who has discovered key genes involved in cancer. He and Luis Diaz believe liquid biopsies that detect cancer DNA in the blood will enable earlier cancer detection.

  • Mental health treatment has historically focused on psychotherapy and antidepressants. Now researchers are finding genetic links to conditions like depression and suicide risk.

  • Consumer genomics companies like 23andMe faced regulatory hurdles offering health-related genetic testing directly to consumers. 23andMe now focuses on ancestry while partnering with drug companies.

  • Other companies like Genophen and Human Longevity offer more extensive sequencing and analysis for precision health and wellness.

  • Craig Venter pioneered private sector genome sequencing and is now exploring creating synthetic organisms. The Revive & Restore project aims to bring extinct species back to life.

  • The U.S. leads in genomics research but faces increasing competition from China. Overall the field is rapidly advancing and promises to transform medicine and human health.

  • China is rapidly increasing its investment in research and development, with the goal of becoming an innovation powerhouse. Its R&D spending as a percentage of GDP now exceeds that of Europe.

  • China is making major investments in genomics research, aiming to sequence a million human genomes by 2022. It has built the world’s largest sequencing factory.

  • Historically, the Soviet Union’s centralized research system stifled innovation, as seen in the pseudoscience of Trofim Lysenko. China aims to avoid these mistakes.

  • Mobile health apps and services are expanding rapidly in developing countries like Kenya, helping to address doctor shortages. Apps provide symptom checkers, health information, and remote diagnostics.

  • Digital payments services like PayPal and Square are transforming finance, enabling small merchants and individuals to easily accept credit cards. Mobile banking is also growing exponentially.

  • Platforms like Alibaba’s Alipay are key to e-commerce growth in China. Digital finance improves efficiency and financial inclusion.

  • Overall, digital technology is revolutionizing money, markets, health, and research - increasing efficiency, access, and productivity worldwide.

  • The Democratic Republic of Congo has faced severe economic challenges, with GDP per capita collapsing after independence in 1960. At least 75% of the population lives on less than $1.25 per day.

  • Infrastructure is very poor, with only 2% of roads paved. A third of the population lacks access to clean water. Children often lack shoes and basic amenities.

  • However, mobile phone penetration has grown rapidly, reaching nearly 40% by 2014. Services like M-Pesa have allowed convenient mobile payments and money transfers.

  • Similar services are spreading across Africa, facilitating financial access for the unbanked. Remittances can be sent more cheaply through mobile systems.

  • Entrepreneurs like Mo Ibrahim and Pierre Omidyar have built major businesses focused on connecting people and enabling transactions. Others like Airbnb and Uber are disrupting traditional industries.

  • Bitcoin and blockchain technology offer new potential for decentralized, peer-to-peer financial networks without central authorities. However, Bitcoin has also seen volatility, fraud, and regulatory uncertainty in its early days.

Here are the key points summarizing the article:

  • In August 2012, the Shamoon virus infected over 30,000 computers at Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company of Saudi Arabia. It wiped out data on three-quarters of Aramco’s corporate PCs and disrupted operations for over a week.

  • Shamoon overwrote files with an image of a burning American flag and crafted the drive to render PCs unusable. It spread quickly through the company’s network via its main server.

  • The attack was attributed to Iran as retaliation for the Stuxnet virus that damaged Iran’s nuclear program. Two weeks later, Shamoon hit RasGas, a Qatari energy company.

  • The virus highlighted the vulnerability of critical infrastructure and energy companies to cyberattacks. It was designed to cause maximum damage and disruption. Recovery took weeks as Saudi Aramco replaced many PCs and drives.

  • The weaponization of code represents a new cyber threat. Rather than steal data, attacks like Shamoon aim to destroy systems and assets. This escalation raises concerns about potential impacts on critical infrastructure.

Here is a summary of the key points from the article:

  • In October 2012, Saudi Aramco, the world’s most valuable company, was hit by a cyberattack that wiped data from 30,000 computers. This demonstrated the vulnerability of even the most secure networks to cyber threats.

  • There are three main types of cyber threats - confidentiality, integrity, and availability attacks. Confidentiality attacks steal private information, integrity attacks corrupt data, and availability attacks disrupt access to networks or data.

  • High-profile cyberattacks like the Saudi Aramco hack can have huge economic impacts, with billions lost in market valuation, stolen IP, and recovery costs. State actors, criminal groups, and hackers all have motives to launch cyberattacks.

  • As more devices become networked through the Internet of Things, the number of potential targets and entry points for cyberattacks grows exponentially. IoT is projected to contribute trillions to the global economy by 2025 but also introduces new vulnerabilities.

  • The shortage of cybersecurity professionals compounds the threat, as there simply aren’t enough experts to secure systems and networks. Stronger collaboration between government, academia, and industry is needed to develop cyber expertise.

  • Overall, cyberattacks are a huge threat to economic and national security, and the risk will only grow as more vital systems are connected online. More investment, training, and awareness is critical to improving cyber defenses.

Here is a summary of the key points from the excerpts:

  • Private companies now collect vastly more data than governments. In 2012, 2.5 exabytes of data were created daily, and 90% of the world’s data has been generated in just the past two years.

  • The Obama 2012 presidential campaign made pioneering use of big data, with analytics guiding decisions on voter targeting and messaging. The campaign had over 100 analysts who examined data points to optimize campaign strategy.

  • Big data analytics involves examining many small data points to reveal larger patterns and trends. It has enabled major advances like real-time language translation tools.

  • Big data is being applied in diverse fields like agriculture, where Monsanto uses satellite data and predictive analytics to optimize crop yields. Other examples are using weather data to improve food aid delivery by the World Food Programme.

  • There are concerns about privacy with the growth of big data. Anonymized data can often be de-anonymized when cross-referenced across different large datasets.

The key points are the exponential growth in data creation, the innovative political and commercial uses of big data analysis, examples of big data enabling advances in fields like translation and agriculture, and the privacy issues stemming from the prevalence of big datasets.

  • Big data and analytics are being applied to agriculture and farming, such as through Pasture Meter in New Zealand which helps farmers monitor grazing conditions via mobile phones. This has boosted beef exports.

  • Emerging markets like China are the biggest sources of growth for agricultural trade. China surpassed New Zealand’s neighbor Australia as its biggest trading partner.

  • Geographic clusters are emerging in fintech, such as in London and Singapore. Berlin has become a hub for big data analytics startups.

  • Industries are embracing big data analytics, from manufacturing (Industrie 4.0 in Germany) to defense (Palantir).

  • Critics argue big data has limits, failing to predict the Ebola crisis and lacking human judgment. But the technology can be useful if deployed carefully.

  • Policymakers and tech leaders see opportunities to turn struggling areas into tech hubs, like advocating drones in Detroit. Urbanization is rising globally too.

Here is a summary of the key points from the article:

  • Cities are hotbeds of innovation and economic growth. Concentrating talent and resources in urban areas leads to more productivity and advancement.

  • Different cities fill distinct roles in the global economy based on their strengths. Some are financial centers, others tech hubs, and so on.

  • The article contrasts several cities/regions including Waziristan, Pakistan; Skolkovo, Russia; Estonia; Belarus; Ukraine; Shanghai; India; and Brazil.

  • Waziristan has been devastated by conflict and drone strikes, stifling development. Many residents have fled the region.

  • Russia invested heavily in Skolkovo to try to create a tech hub, but progress has been slow. Rules and bureaucracy have hampered innovation there.

  • Estonia rapidly transformed into an advanced digital society after the fall of the USSR. Tech and Internet access are pillars of its progress.

  • Belarus remains tightly controlled by its authoritarian leader, limiting economic liberalization. Industry has stagnated.

  • Ukraine struggles with corruption and Russian influence, but has a strong tech talent base. It needs regulatory reforms.

  • China’s Shanghai Free Trade Zone was meant to spur growth, but results have so far been disappointing.

  • India has promise but is held back by poor infrastructure, regulations, and education gaps.

  • Brazil invested wisely to grow its middle class and reduce poverty in the 2000s.

Here is a summary of the key points from the excerpts:

  • Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves are declining, so the country is investing heavily in education and research to diversify its economy. However, the new King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) has faced criticism for being disconnected from broader society and restrictive towards women.

  • In Pakistan, girls like Malala Yousafzai have fought for education and women’s rights despite threats from the Taliban. Discriminatory cultural attitudes continue to limit opportunities for Pakistani women.

  • Indonesia has made progress in women’s rights and political participation, though traditional gender roles persist. China has also seen huge gains for women in education and business, with high female representation in senior management.

  • Japan lags behind other developed countries in women’s workforce participation and leadership roles. Promises by Prime Minister Abe to address this have yet to lead to major change.

  • Young entrepreneurs in Africa are using mobile technology to empower smallholder farmers and connect markets, with apps like iCow. Rwanda has made a remarkable recovery, aided by policies promoting women’s economic inclusion.

Overall, the excerpts highlight both ongoing challenges and positive changes in women’s status across diverse countries. Education and technology are enabling more opportunities, but cultural biases continue to hinder full equality.

  • About Scratch - Scratch is a programming language and online community launched by MIT, with over 20 million registered members. It allows young people to learn coding skills by creating interactive stories, games, and animations.

  • The World’s Billionaires - The Forbes list tracks the wealth of the richest people in the world. In 2016, there were over 1,800 billionaires with a total net worth of $6.5 trillion. The US has the most billionaires (540+), while China is catching up fast with 251.

In summary, Scratch has enabled over 20 million young people to start learning coding, while the world has over 1,800 billionaires whose total wealth exceeds $6 trillion, according to Forbes. This highlights both the massive opportunity to expand access to coding skills globally, as well as the immense concentration of wealth amongst a small number of individuals.

Jasper Craven

Researchers: Therese Borchard, Dominique D’Alli, Matthew Jenner, Daniela Pineda, Peter Robinson

Consultants: Charlie Songhurst, Andreas Weigend

Author Photo

About Matheus Puppe