My dad likes to say “I hope that technology starts getting used for more than just delivering pizza 3 minutes faster.” I think he has a point but when we look at what technology has changed over the past decade it’s hard to not believe that tech will accelerate our path toward the UN SDG Goals.
Solar power is an advancement that will help mostly to achieve clean and affordable energy, but will also positively affect economic and industrial factors and create sustainability. The impact could be significant for the environment and engineers have made great strides over the past 10 years in reducing its initial costs and outputs. This type of growth over the next 10 years will likely bring down the cost to so little that no one will want to use oil or gas heat and coal electric plants will be finally closed.
The book Abundance describes how in the future there will be an abundance of all required resources for every single person on Earth. Technologies in computing, energy, medicine and many other areas are improving at an exponential rate and will soon enable breakthroughs that today seem impossible.
In the area of work—tech is probably taking more than its creating in the lower income levels, but once Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other techs are better perfected we will see substantial gains in lowering costs, better health care, and so many other things that we just can’t stop making investments in the space. These technologies have allowed independent innovators to achieve advancements in many areas of technology with little money or human labor. This has also been achieved through innovative incentive prize competitions, like TED or X-prize.
Artificial Intelligence is solving problems that people are unable to. Everyday AI is finding a way to look at the data we have been staring at and finding solutions to our problems. From finding new uses for drugs, optimizing driving routes, and even climate change initiates, AI is creating Recently, Google announced that by using Artificial Intelligence, it’s wind energy has boosted up to 20 percent. A neural network is trained on the widely available weather forecasts and historical turbine data. The DeepMind system is configured to predict the wind power output 36 hours ahead of actual generation. The model then recommends to make hourly delivery commitments to the power grid a full day in advance, based on the predictions.
‘BioCarbon Engineering’ plans to use drones which will fly over potentially suitable areas and compile 3D maps. Then, it will scatter small containers over the best areas containing fertilized seeds as well as nutrients and moisture gel. In this way, 36,000 trees can be planted every day, with little cost and human labor. After planting, drones will continue to monitor the germinating seeds and deliver further nutrients when necessary to ensure their healthy growth. This could help to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Technology is also working toward achieving gender equality. AI can help girls, boys, and everyone learn in the ways that they need to and technology companies are working to teach girls about the skills that are needed for future jobs. Salesforce.org recently gave $1 million grant to Iridescent, the organization behind Technovation, to support and develop the program further. “Technovation changes girls’ lives—it changes the way they view themselves, and more importantly, it changes the way the world sees them—as powerful technology innovators and entrepreneurs,” says Tara Chklovski, founder and CEO of Iridescent. The lives of the world’s poorest people are being improved substantially because of technology. What the Technology Initiative will achieve:
- Improved access to and control of technology for women and girls, especially in remote and marginalized areas
- Creative technology-based solutions to key gender equality issues like violence, health, and economic and political empowerment
- More safe online spaces for women and girls, and women’s rights organizing
- More women and girls playing leadership roles in designing and shaping technology, especially to advance women’s rights
- Stronger, more inclusive national and global women’s movements, collaborating regularly to share resources and ideas, and develop common advocacy strategies
These are just a few examples of how technology is helping to pave a way to achieving the SDGs by 2030. As there are more technological advancements, a world where the SDG are achieved will be possible. Technology has created a generation of “techno-philanthropists” (such as Bill Gates) who are using their wealth to try to solve seemingly unsolvable problems such as hunger and disease.
There is a story about New York City in the early 1900s when it was predicted that in a few decades the city would not be livable due to all the horse manure. A few years later Henry Ford created an affordable car and today when I walk in nyc I can’t even find a horse. As long as we keep focusing on innovation we can solve the problems that were presented to us by our forefathers. If we keep advancing education and especially Girls education we will be at a point in the not too distant future where we will look back and say “I remember when cars polluted the air, plastic filled the oceans, millions of people were displaced by climate change, and food was not available to all.” I hope this platform, the UN, Technology companies, my future science colleagues, and so many more will all become a part of the solution.