This is Part 3, the last part of the 3 article series titled “12 Big Ideas that could lead to the next Billion dollar companies”.
You can read the first part of this series, Part 1: Education, Energy, Housing and Healthcare and the second part Part 2: Environment and Climate Change, Water woes and Transportation 2.0.
Here are the last 5 big ideas in the series:
Part 3: Internet Safety, Artificial Intelligence, Urban Infrastructure Improvement, Sustainable Agriculture, Energy from Waste
As we become excessively dependent on technology, especially the internet, with each passing day, it becomes critical that we put systems in place that ensures that we have a secure cyberspace.
It has a two-fold ramification, one in terms of the security to be accorded towards the privacy of information about an individual on the internet. And, more importantly, the cyber-security of entire nations are also prone to be compromised over the internet and could lead to extreme scenarios like that shown in the movie ‘Die Hard’ where hackers take down transportation, communication and power systems in a doomsday scenario.
The usual approach to cyber security, by way of installing routers and firewalls at various entry points of a sub-network has been breached time and again. The solutions to cyber security, unfortunately, are not as obvious as the problems.
Better authentication systems, like Biometrics, need further improvement and innovation. The other route could be engineering more secure software, either through better programming languages that have built-in security measures or technology capable of detecting vulnerable features before software installation, rather than after an attack.
Another opportunity is in providing better security for data flowing over the Internet so that the information cannot be easily diverted, monitored, or altered.
The meeting of Engineering and Neuroscience has huge upsides when it comes to manufacturing, healthcare and communication etc.
While thinking machines, the computers capable of emulating human intelligence, have been shown to master skills like chess, which is essentially a very narrow skill, it would be required of such machines to go one better and achieve General Purpose Artificial Intelligence.
It follows that reverse engineering a human brain can lead to huge inroads in achieving the target of General Purpose Artificial Intelligence. AI algorithms used in speech recognition and in machine vision systems in automated factories already take advantage of this process.
No doubt, that the Healthcare domain will be the one most affected if this technology can be improved. To fully realize the brain’s potential to lead us to insights to make machines learn and think, we need further advances in the technology for understanding the brain.
Urban Infrastructure Improvement
The problem in urban areas is the growing populations that puts undue stress on the support systems. This infrastructure problem is compounded by the threat of natural disasters, accidents, and terrorist attacks. Urban infrastructure is a major issue for megacities (populations exceeding 10 million), mostly in Asia. Basic infrastructure needs are still problematic in these countries, and the challenge is to provide these facilities at a low cost.
Furthermore, the design should be sustainable, and accommodating of environmental and energy considerations, along with the concern for aesthetics.
Better design ideas and the use of advanced materials can significantly improve the world’s transportation and energy, water, and waste systems, and also help in creating more sustainable urban environments.
Although not as soul-rendering as “global warming,” but changes caused by humans in the global nitrogen cycle pose challenges as unique as those of the consequences of burning fossil fuels for energy.
Nitrogen fixation by microorganisms is the major way in which the abundant atmospheric nitrogen makes its way into living organisms. However, additional nitrogen nutrients added via fertilizer and hence, human activity in combination with the large contribution from planting legumes, which are attractive hosts for nitrogen-fixing microbes have increased the amount of fixed nitrogen. The consequences are worsened greenhouse effect, increased smog, contributing to acid rain, and contaminated drinking water.
The order of business should be to restore balance to the nitrogen cycle, which can be achieved with better fertilization technologies.
Energy from Waste
Modern consumer lifestyles have encouraged consumption patterns that are causing a huge global waste problem. Local landfill capacities are way over their limits; and many first world nations are now indulging in dumping their refuse to third world countries, resulting in devastating impact on ecosystems and cultures.
What individuals, organizations and nations need to realize is the huge potential. The cue is for existing and future alternative energy companies to develop new ways to recycle waste by generating electricity from landfill waste and pollution.
Of course, these are not the only 12 BIG ideas that exist for the future entrepreneurs and firms to take forward. The obvious understanding is that these are not the typical boot-strappable business ideas and require huge amounts of funding and dedicated resources.
The point though, is that, these are business as well as actual non-sexy problems that need to be dealt with at the earliest. The competition won’t be a deterrent and the cash flow should take care of itself, once the solution is reached.
Do look at 3-part-12-BIG-idea-series and let us know what you feel about it!