OZY on Big Ideas
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because these top tech minds are making things faster + better + cooler.
Driving traffic-clogged roads to Baltimore is no fun. Ditto taking a crowded shuttle from Washington, D.C., to New York. Which is why for the commuting masses, something tantalizing is in the air: a privately funded company’s vision to build a $10 billion, high-speed, magnetically propelled train that would cut travel between the nation’s capital and Baltimore to 15 minutes, about the time it takes to walk a dozen city blocks.
Superconducting supercomputing could be the holy grail for reducing power demand. When resistance is high, it takes more energy to get things done; the more resistance drops in a superconductor, the less energy you need to feed your supercomputer. Scientists have been striving to unlock the full potential of superconductivity for decades. The relatively new field of spintronics, meanwhile, has scientists working to harness the electron’s inherent spin to control electronic devices and enable faster processing.
The startup bug is hitting Seoul. Korea’s risk-averse culture tends to discourage entrepreneurs by looking down on failure. In an interview with Forbes last year, Bom Kim, founder of Korean e-commerce site Coupang, summed up his country’s mindset this way: “You only start a company in Korea if you can’t find a decent job.” South Korean President Park Geun-hye wants to change that. She’s established a new government ministry to support the creation of new technologies and recently announced a government plan to invest $3.7 billion in early-stage companies. Those who matter most — entrepreneurs and private investors — applaud her efforts.
Could building on Brazil’s budding tech startup scene lift the nation back to the upper echelons? “Rio is becoming more friendly to startups as more people get excited about technology and technologists,” says Marmulstein. “Until recently, entrepreneurship in Brazil has been associated with failure. It’s only now that people are beginning to think it is socially acceptable and cool to be part of a startup.” Brazil’s middle-class market is ready for what startups have to offer, and the venture capital to get them going isn’t far behind.