Techonomy has been very interesting. The buzz today has been about Wednesday night's opening session where venture capitalist John Doerr and inventor Dean Kamen led an interactive discussion.
The Kleiner Perkins executive tried to solicit information from some of the heavyweights in the audience, such as Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google and Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon who discussed putting technology to work in practical ways to increase efficiency and expand business in a whole host of industries, including energy, health care, education and the consumer market.
What’s clear is that in an environment where the economy is growing slowly, technology is enabling growth by accelerating efficiency and creating new ways of doing things. It also has the potential to create jobs.
For example: in energy efficiency, as Bill Joy told me on Closing Bell, you can retool homes and office buildings by gutting out the ceiling enabling solar technology to come through. So while these projects are often looked at as long-term projects, you can get some traction on them right away by putting people to work.
Same goes for healthcare, where you can study the genes of cancer patients and develop drugs that are specific to their ailments.
All of this “retooling” is going on right now. Bottom line, companies are trying to figure how to use technology to accelerate growth in their business.
I think the most important sectors to watch are health care, energy, education, infrastructure and the consumer sector—in terms of the biggest impact of advancing technologies. In the consumer sector, things like the iPad and the iPhone have created new businesses and new copy cats.
Mohammed Zaidi, the CTO of Alcoa told me that technology has made the mining industry much cleaner and more efficient. They’re looking at sustainbility over decades as result of technology.
And I had a great chat with Nicholas Negroponte of One Laptop Per Child fame, who is now turning his attention to places like Afghanastan and Gaza, and sending laptops there. He told me we are spending $2 billion dollars a week on the war and $2 million dollars a week on education.
Today in Afghanastan, children are teaching their parents how to read and write. If anyone wonders about the transformational potential of technology, look no further than that.
I'll have much more Friday from Techonomy.
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