And then there is Artificial Intelligence, which has advanced to the point at which computers can defeat humans on the TV show Jeopardy, perform medical diagnosis, and drive autonomous cars.
I can go on and on and on, but the bottom line is that we are innovating at an unprecedented rate. In this and the next decade, we will begin to make energy and food abundant, inexpensively purify and sanitize water from any source, cure disease, and educate the world’s masses. The best part: It isn’t governments that will lead this charge; it will be the world’s entrepreneurs.
With every good comes a bad, and our optimism always needs to be grounded. Synthetic biology could lead to new forms of bioterrorism; surveillance technologies — which are becoming ever more sophisticated — already provide governments more information than George Orwell’s Big Brother ever dreamed about; no guidelines have yet been developed for ethics in the exponential era. My worry: Will humanity evolve fast enough to fulfill its increasing responsibilities?
Vivek Wadhwa is vice president of academics and innovation at Singularity University. The university, founded in 2008 and based at the NASA Research Center in Mountain View, California, aims to assemble, educate, and inspire a new generation of thinkers, scientists, and business executives looking to better the world through disruptive technologies.