Thought Provoking / Societal Innovation

Reinventing Societal Infrastructure with Technology 

By Vinod Khosla on

As a technology optimist I like to say, “what can be imagined technologically reasonably can be invented” is more true than not and more a matter of time and focus. Technology and new inventions have always shaped the human world, and have disrupted the way we live and work, and yet we are only at the beginning. Innovation in the areas of food, digitization, robotics, artificial intelligence, as a few examples, have the potential to achieve food abundance, reshape cities, knit humanity, and enhance human capability exponentially.

The big needs in society, food, health, housing, transportation, financial services, entertainment and more are being and will even more so be reinvented by technology in an “increasingly more accessible to all” way. We need to turbocharge our efforts to utilize technology to accelerate accessibility. Many of society’s GDP and business-related needs are being reinvented everyday in a truly innovative and non-institutional way. Seven hundred million (or so) people have the rich lifestyle, either in environment, energy, housing, healthcare, education, food, that seven billion people on this planet want. Technology is the necessary, though not sufficient, resource multiplier. It’s the only thing that can multiply resources. Technology will enable bridging this gap here, and the key word being “non-institutional” reinvention is not only powerful in increasing innovation, and but more importantly for accessibility.

The future and my admiration belongs to those dreamers who think of these unreasonable possibilities, who aren’t afraid of the high probability of failure, and who take, bold and, radical risks. They are willing to change the world by imagining what’s possible. So, what comes next for reinvention? Public transportation? Construction? Buildings? Healthcare? Food? Cities? Communications? Companionship? Financial system? Imagine the possible and take it from impossible to improbable to possible, but then again unlikely to plausible to probably to real! Individual entrepreneurs and their passion for a vision (and tons of good luck) give the improbable reality a shot. Now, many, even most, of these attempts will fail and the press will denigrate you for hubris, arrogance, fraud, naivety, and much more. Even so, it is these improbable attempts that will, when they occasionally squeak by the “existing reality, institutional noise (and fear)” will change the world (hopefully mostly for good). The future is not knowable, but it is inevitable and inventable so we need great entrepreneurs and technologists to invent the future.

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