Thursday, July 24, 2008

More musing -- continued

So what are the emerging disruptive technologies?

The personal computer wave has already crested.

The Internet and World Wide Web were the technologies of the boom.

The mobile phone looks like a great wave, but there are players already riding it which will be hard to compete with.

Biotechnology has been the next big wave for a few decades, and is still a technology that appears worth watching. It seems to have various branches:
  • agricultural applications,
  • pharmaceuticals produced in cell culture, from GM plants, or animals,
  • industrial (further away?)
  • others such as mineral beneficiation, creation of microorganisms for environmental cleanup applications.
Nanotechnology, which seems to be a coming bet for a number of emerging economies as well as of developed nations. Again, nanotechnology is a term which may hide the distinctions among several related technologies. Chip manufacturers are already working at nanoscale. Catalysis is an obvious area, and there are many people looking to biomedical applications of nanotechnology. Who knows whether the currently commercialized applications like sunscreens and dirt resistant clothing will be prototypes for an important industry.

I have a hunch that the will be important commercial opportunities coming out of neurobiology, ranging from medications to deal with mental problems to techniques to enhance learning and attention.

These are all areas in which scientific developments are leading to new technologies with commercial applications. There may also be other areas in which social and economic problems will require major technological innovation providing commercial opportunities.

The energy challenge may lead to new waves. Nuclear, which at least in the United States has been limited in application due to popular aversion to the risks it is perceived to involve, seeks likely to be more important. There is interest in a hydrogen economy, and in renewables.

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