Technology Takes On the Big Problems

Take a look at how markets and technology are taking on some of society’s biggest problems and revolutionizing the way we live. 

Nanotech and clean drinking water 

The World Economic Forum recently reflected on nanotechnology’s potential to improve people’s lives by providing smaller yet more powerful batteries, and by speeding up the purification process for air and water, among other things. Nanotechnology could deliver clean drinking water to millions of people who currently lack it, furthering the current positive trend. Around 10 percent of the global population lacks clean drinking water, down from around 20 percent in 1990.

Telemedicine and elderly care 

Lifespans are rising. As a result, elderly populations in developed countries are growing, and their need for medical care is increasing. Both Politico and the Huffington Post recently commented on how telemedicine may be poised to help make medical care more widely available and cost-efficient for the elderly. Some benefits of a virtual visit to the doctor include allowing aging patients to avoid the strain of a physical trip to the doctor’s office, communicate better with their doctors as they are more relaxed in their home environment, and even remember medical advice more accurately. 

Eye-scanners and money transfers 

The Wall Street Journal reported that eye-scanning ATMs will soon be available. Citigroup will roll out eye-scanning ATMs first, while J.P. Morgan Chase and Bank of America are still in earlier phases of internally testing eye-scanning technology. Credit cards once represented a huge innovation in how people transferred money, but the future may be card-less, with credit card swipes supplanted by quick biometric scans. Eye-scanning technology could simultaneouslyincrease the security and lessen the hassle of monetary transfers. 

Data and precision agriculture 

Robots, smart tractors, sensors and big data hold the potential to increase agricultural profits, while lessening negative environmental impact. Technological innovation is key to increasing yields per unit of land and decreasing emissions and erosion—all areas in which we are already seeing positive trends. Some specific examples of precision agriculture include using sensors to monitor weather and crop moisture levels, as well as to identify crop diseases early on. In the words of HumanProgress.org advisory member Jesse H. Ausubel, “The environment will be protected, not harmed, technology.”  

Learn more about how human ingenuity is making the world a better place at HumanProgress.org.