The “Great Acceleration” is upon us. On all fronts technology in everything is advancing at an ever accelerating rate due to improvements in education/training, increased power and functionality of hardware, software, access to information(Google, technical publications, etc.) prototyping techniques (3D Printing, sophisticated design and test software for literally everything from software, to semis, to physical objects and devices), more people working on literally everything from every angle with the net providing collaboration and off loading of just about any task. All this coupled with an ever increasing ways of raising capital and assembling talent and you get to where we are now, Rapid acceleration of any task we can even imagine, including the very problems acceleration creates.
All this is leading to the ability to have everything in abundance if we so choose. The problem is that most individuals, social structures and government can’t keep up and this fundamental change to abundance, leading to increased instability and dislocation. The semi and software sectors are leading the way and are advancing so much faster than everything else we have dislocations that while creating great things also create great instability and damage. Organizations, companies, investors and individuals that master this will do well, while many will suffer from the dislocations and instability.
To take full advantage of the opportunities before us will not only require changes in us, but all the organizations we deal with. A Gallup poll done in September found 75% of all adults consider corruption pervasive throughout our government and justly so. Sadly much of this is just a failure of not wanting to adapt to the accelerating changes. It is not just government that has problems, but our very social structure for government is just a reflection of the society on which is still based on the slower moving progress of the past.
Since the semi sector is among the leaders in accelerating change, we can no longer work in a vacuum indifferent to the world around us. With knowledge and power go responsibility and to forget this will have dire consequences for everyone. When we at the forefront of change if we forget the consequences and applications of what we do, we can literally sink the ship. It is at this point we must remember “When the ship sinks, first class goes down too”.
Technology can bring one quality that will help everyone, transparency, which is the key to honesty and integrity. Transparency also has the awesome power to solve problems by making them apparent. It is critical that transparency is maintained so we can solve problems before they become dangerous. Already it is easy to see where new forms of finance have put many people and governments in dangerous straights. Many things can now become obsolete well before the financing to pay for them is completed. There is nothing we can’t solve and the semi sector can/will play a key part in the solutions, many are already well under development. Bellow is a brief partial list of examples of solutions under way.
Energy: solar in many forms, wind, underwater turbines, nuclear, stripping hydrogen from hydrocarbons, nuclear, advanced fracking for not only oil/gas but geothermal
Food: advanced forms of algae and microbial that already produce 40 times what current agriculture land produces with the potential of 700 times. We might not eat this, but most food is grown for animal feed. This would solve food, land and water problems.
Water: advanced desalinization, recycling of waste water to drinking quality
Transportation: ultra efficient cars, ships, planes and trains
Medical:vastly lowered costs and increased productive life span currently being literally attacked from almost every vector
Robotics/AI: will open up the oceans with vast resources of all types, improve and lower education costs, free us up for far more productive and pleasurable pursuits and greatly leverage our labor (creating more dislocation and challenges)
Efficiency: new glass, numerous new engines, hybrid systems, new insulating materials, new reflective surfacing coatings, etc. etc., but most of all in all processes from creation to production to distribution to use and disposal.
Transparency and flexibility will be key if we are going to deal with these changes without massive social conflict and with semiconductors being at the heart of much of this, this is the place to start and should be taken into account from the inception of any new technology which is just another form of power and should be treated and respected as such for technology without wisdom can be very dangerous. The semi/mems sector is the leader in acceleration, so it is up to us to ask these critical questions and develop solutions.