By Michael A. Layne
President, Marx Layne & Co.
Incredible technologies and powerful, near-instant communications are enriching our lives with the added potential of bringing people together as never before.
Just pick up any magazine or browse the Internet. I recently read about Korean automaker Hyundai showing off a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle at the LA auto show as electric vehicle technology continues to advance. Elsewhere, we are working to more responsibly harness more-developed energy sources like nuclear and natural gas, while finding better ways to add solar, wind or geothermal to the mix. We can chart a path to a nation less dependent on imported energy sources, as well as cleaner air and water for this generation and the ones that succeed us.
Move over Tom Cruise from Minority Report. Take a peek at soon to launch Google Glasses, a wearable computer with optical head-mounted display. A transparent, high-resolution display equivalent to a 25-inch screen at 8 feet away. Camera and video recorder, personal assistant, direction-finder, schedule-maker all controlled by touch or voice command. We will be able to “see” better, faster and farther.
Yes, we are still subject to horrendous natural disasters like Typhoon Haiyan that devastated so much property and took so many lives in the Philippines. However, with modern communications—from CNN to social media, news of the disaster spread across the globe instantly and so did the response of generous and concerned governments, corporations and individuals.
Another great example of technology and communications bringing talented, creative, positive people together was featured in a recent issue of Time magazine. The issue: each year, Americans waste about $165 billion in food that goes uneaten, representing almost 40 percent of the food purchased in the United States. Meanwhile, nearly 50 million Americans live in households identified as food-insecure. The solution: entrepreneurs and nonprofits teaming up to identify and re-distribute excess or unsold food, especially perishable, but highly nutritious items like milk, fruits and vegetables.
These groups are using today’s most advanced systems for inventory management, shipping and distribution, pricing, consumer behavior and marketing. As they do, they are steering this otherwise wasted food to food banks, as well as selling it to individuals who love a bargain and are not scared off by a slightly bruised apple or overly crooked carrot.
We are clearly at a tipping point in human history. With more powerful technology, greater access to knowledge and new ways of collaboration. Instead of consuming us, these new modes can liberate us. They can help us find and work with like-minded and like-motivated individuals who are interested in a safer, saner and mutually enriching world. It’s our call.