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Invention and Innovation: Emerging Technologies that Will Change the World
The Inventor View

09/30/2004 10:50 Kresge
Spencer Reiss, Contributing Editor, Technology Review; Kari Stefansson, CEO, deCODE genetics, Inc. ; Edward Jung, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Intellectual Ventures ; Steve Wozniak, Co-Founder, Apple Computer

Description: When Steve Wozniak was young, he found his first transistor radio inspiring. He has channeled his passion for useful, convenient machines into a new company that makes global positioning satellite (GPS) locators for everyday purposes. He imagines tagging a child or dog with a GPS device, so you can "find out if it gets to where it shouldn't." Another goal for his portable GPS: as an aide to emergency first responders, who often must find people trapped in buildings.

Kari Stefannson has archived the genealogy of Icelanders going back 1100 years, in order to track down common inherited diseases and potentially cure them. There are "genes that predispose and genes that protect," and Stefannson hopes to manipulate the function of disease genes so as to prevent the onset of such illnesses as myocardial infarction.

"The golden age of invention is right now," claims Edward Jung, because of recent discoveries in science, and fundamental technological change. He points to materials that can "bend light backwards, or optically resolve things at sub-wavelengths," which will lead to powerful new inventions such as diagnostics that can see into the body at any depth. With the help of efficient capital movement, and a rise in global education levels, we'll see a rise in the "the ability to manufacture ideas" rapidly.

Avid sailor Craig Venter has trawled for microbes in the Sargasso Sea and discovered more than a million new genes and 1,800 new species. Among them are organisms that thrive on carbon dioxide. Venter hopes to re-engineer some of these unique microbes genetically, into "designed species" that may reduce environmental CO2 levels, as well as provide new foods and energy sources. "Biology can do much more sophisticated chemistry than the best chemists," says Venter.

Host(s): Office of the Provost, Technology Review

Tape #: 19015

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MIT World — special events and lectures

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