IMG_7723Here are my notes from Day 2 of the World Technology Summit. I’ve been hangin’ with Dr. John Nash, my colleague at ISU. Today we learned about India’s Barefoot College (impressive!), Microsoft’s vision for the future, rotating buildings, petrofuel, ICT in Africa, and much more.

Bunker Roy, The Barefoot College

  • 150 barefoot professionals reach over 70,000 people in 110 villages within a 150-mile radius
  • 225 night schools in 6 states are attended by 7,000 children (5,500 girls) that can't attend during the day – school is lit by solar lanterns and run by the children
  • Solar-powered campus – first solar-powered desalination plant in India – has extended its solar electrification work beyond India (e.g., 27 women in Afghanistan have solar electrified 100 of their villages)
  • The cost of solar electrifying 5 villages in Afghanistan is the cost of one UN consultant sitting in Kabul for 1 year
  • Have electrified a number of villages in Africa – men in Africa are untrainable – focus on women, particularly grandmothers
Christofer Toumaz & Keith Errey, Toumaz Technology
  • Disposable, hidden, unobtrusive, personalized health devices
  • Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Imperial College, London
  • Sensium digital patch / BandAid – sits on chest and wirelessly monitors health signs 24-7 (e.g., for Type 2 diabetes) – can send signals to doctor – replaces tethered monitors
  • Wireless silicon pancreas chip helps monitor glucose – therapy and diagnosis functions are combined
  • Have figured out how to turn on/off semiconductors with DNA – trying to replace big DNA sequencers with small lab-on-a-chip
IMG_7724Andrew Beck, PetroAlgae
  • Micro-crops (algae, angiosperms, cyanobacter, diatoms, etc.) are grown and turned into renewable, green fuel for cars, etc.
  • 125x more productive than macro-crops (corn, soy, rapeseed, etc.)
  • 98% of water is recycled – can use gray or brackish water – doesn't even need clean, drinking-quality water
  • Micro-crops absorb twice their weight in carbon dioxide – can be placed next to carbon dioxide-emitting factories
  • Physics combined with biochemistry – its light-management techniques are what put PetroAlgae ahead of competitors
  • Micro-crops are the only economically viable answer to the biofuels feedstock problem – protein meal byproduct adds to the food supply
  • Does not compete with the food supply, does not produce any toxic waste
  • Large-scale open bioreactors – 4,700 to 6,000 gallons per acre per year – product can be run through existing petroleum refineries and pipelines – this green diesel system uses same infrastructure as current gasoline-based system – functions as a 'drop-in' replacement for fossil fuels
  • 1 unit (5,000 hectares) produces ~75 million gallons of biofuel / year AND 140,000 tons of protein meal / year (the latter alone offsets the biofuel production costs)
Ian Sands, Director of Envisoning, Microsoft
  • In charge of articulating Microsoft's collective long-term vision both internally and externally – a fine balance between dreaming and plausible
  • Microsoft's video, A Glimpse Ahead, shows its future vision and embeds a number of principles, including natural user interfaces, mobile technologies, etc. 
David Fisher, Dynamic Architecture
  • Buildings generate own energy, plus energy for other surrounding buildings – wind and solar
  • Costs and construction time are lower than traditional building processes
  • Core tower surrounded by rotating floors, which are built with modular components
  • Drive car into core tower, elevator takes car up to your floor, floors can contain garages, swimming pools, etc.
John Maraganore, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals
  • Harnessing RNA interference (RNAi) technology – potential for a whole new class of drugs that achieve therapeutic 'gene silencing'
  • There are a number of 'undruggable' targets that might be addressed using RNAi
  • Genomic medicine opens up a whole new class of possibilities
  • Clinical trials have been published in a number of top medical and scientific journals
The underrecognized: A scenario planning exercise (facilitated by Art Kleiner, strategy+business)
  • Every country in the world starts buying automobiles like crazy when average income hits $10K/year – China, India, Brazil, Turkey, and Russia are about to hit that threshold
  • Imagine 2 directions in which the trend could go, and write a newspaper headline for each – avoid a simplistic utopia/dystopia approach
  • GROUP 4: The evolution of learning
    • Speed of access to learning materials is much faster
    • We scan, find, and access information differently than before
    • More likely to find exactly what you want – also leads to self-selection of learning
    • Are we losing social interactions (or are they just changing)
    • Are we losing opportunity to be exposed to disparate opinions
    • Does it facilitate access to education by everyone
    • Learning will become even more powerful as mobile devices become more prevalent
    • Principles and process are more important than discrete facts
    • Current Internet can't handle tactile / sensory information
    • Current text-based Internet still doesn't work for many students
    • Are we seeing the emergence of a post-literate society?
    • Geography and time are no longer barriers to learning?
    • What does the role of a teacher mean in a computer-aided environment? Choreographers / facilitators / mentors instead of knowledge suppliers?
    • Greater individualization of learning is possible
    • Strength in diversity or latent costs that accompany the nichification of learning?
    • Is there still a place for face-to-face interactions, learning environments?
    • Is virtualization of learning more good than bad?
    • Who controls these learning environments (if anybody)?
    • Internal motivation to learn becomes more important?
    • HEADLINE 1: Barefoot College surpasses MIT in Engineering graduates
    • HEADLINE 2: Server farm failure erases all of human history
    • Other generated headlines
      • Continued turmoil in online education leads to more students living with parents past age 30
      • Be careful what you wish for: last traditional school (or textbook publisher) closes its doors
      • All printed materials now obsolete
      • SmellTube & haptic interfaces revolutionize the Internet experience
      • The cyberwar between evolutionists and creationists continues to rage
      • Learn what you need for your career in 6 months

ICT for development, Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda
  • Over last decade, there has been an ICT revolution on the African continent
  • Between 1995 and 2005, over $25 billion was invested in ICT in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • African mobile phone companies are regional and, sometimes, global players – leaders in innovation and entrepeneurship
  • Africa is fastest-growing mobile phone company in world
  • Working on a national fiber backbone to facilitate broadband access to corporations and individuals
  • Electronic records system to deliver social, health, and education services
  • National databases to help combat HIV/AIDS and target appropriate medical services
  • Nationwide food stocks database / marketplace that can be accessed by individuals' mobile phones
  • Digital content from world's leading universities now available to Rwandan schools, universities
  • Rwandan economy grew at 11.2% last year; wages have increased as much as 30% each of the past 8 years?
  • The future of Rwanda is dependent on its investments in technology and children
The future of media in a socially-networked world
  • Presentation panel
  • Associated Content: where folks can put their content and get compensated for it – a content monetization engine (makes money through ads, companies that pay to have content created for them) – has over 250,000 content contributors
  • Twitter, for example, represents not only the atomization of content (140 characters) but also the atomization of distribution (inviduals rather than large organizations)
  • The problem is not the production of content but the filtering of content – people now relying on others that they trust, rather than big companies, to provide much of their information
  • The Internet is a medium of cannibalization
Philip Warner, Eden Park Illumination
  • The light bulb of tomorrow is not a lightbulb – microplasma is a planar light source
  • The problem with compact fluorescents (CFLs) is that they contain mercury
  • Embedded lighting – floors, walls, windows, surfaces, furniture, ceilings – all will be able to contain lighting
  • Very thin (2 to 3mm) – currently 4x as energy-efficient as CFLs (even greater efficiency is expected soon) – can be molded into different shapes
  • Surface brightness 10x greater than OLED
  • Lighting market: US = $15 billion, global = $75 billion

Photo credits