Cover Image


View/Hide Left Panel

This will require significant new engineering contributions from the construction industry. Our cities will be networks of tunnels. Tunnels will crisscross Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Albuquerque, Beijing, et cetera.

We are not making a lot of public fuss about how we are going to “popularize” this concept. We are going to convince our friends in China first, because the Chinese have the authority to do this in their cities. That authority is not as readily available in our democratic society. My son will be giving a presentation in a few weeks when he goes to China for a meeting at a university where he is a trustee. So, we will be publishing our first document in Mandarin and giving it to the Chinese before Christmas. The document will explain how they can eliminate congestion in about 120 cities with large numbers of tunnels.

The business model will be a toll business, and we expect there will be tremendous competition internationally to win, in effect, the right to collect tolls in a given section or a given city. I imagine that there will also be a dramatic number of technical achievements as people learn how to build these overpasses and tunnels, much like what happened with the introduction of the cellular telephone. When we announced the cellular telephone about 25 years ago, AT&T wasn’t ready for the change. Neither were the Japanese. Almost every husband we ever talked to said, “Well, that’s a very nice thing to have. I think I might need one in my business. But I won’t let my wife have one, and I’m not going to let my children have them.” But who has cellular telephones today, at almost no cost?

The people in this room, and your engineering associates, have a great talent—the ability to take the essence of an idea and refine it. In the process, costs will go way down, and services will become remarkably reliable. By 2030, a new transportation system will be evident, a system that was formed well before that. I assure you that if it’s not done by 2035, the new Trump Building in Chicago will begin losing value. But I think we can convince the American people, and the American leadership, that they must go to a radically new system to prevent the death of cities.

Science Road Maps

Finally, I want to bring up an issue I have talked about often but have never been able to sell, although I think the concept is fundamental. About 35 or 40 years ago, after one of many days per week spent in our laboratories—I frequently spent time with our bright, young people, who were always giving me ideas that had never gotten to the top of their divisions—I said, “We will have road maps.” And I drew an XY chart and put some lines on it. Even our brightest, top people who happened to be sitting in that room that afternoon couldn’t grasp what I had in mind.

I didn’t have a clear idea of how to present my idea, but I knew what the end objective was. I told them I’d be back in six months for the first meeting on road maps and that they had better have a damn good story to tell about their plans for the future, in immense technical detail, or there would be a radical change in the organization. Three people picked up on the idea and designed engineering road maps for our company that led to dazzling results in our product-development programs for more than three decades.

We discussed the idea of industry road maps with Ian Ross, who was then heading a commission in D.C. studying the semiconductor industry. Finally, I convinced him to support the concept of engineering road maps for that industry. We worked together to develop road maps on pre-competitive ideas, all the ideas that engineers could come up with. Today, I think we are in the 9th or 10th edition of biannual technology road maps for the industry that have done a giant job, particularly at IBM, which was one of the companies that helped us develop the road maps.

Road maps for technical management are far more useful than many science and engineering people realize. I know some top science people rather intimately, which gave me insights as to what they were thinking. I told them there should be science road maps—a chemistry road map, a physics road map, and so forth. About 10 years ago I saw Dan Goldin at a party one evening, and I asked him, “What does NASA think about road maps?” He said, “We’ve got the most distinguished road map on biology you can imagine.” I asked, “Why biology?” He said, “We have to figure out where we’re going. We have to know it to the essence.” So I sent our team down to see what the NASA biology road map looked like.

But I have failed to convince laboratories, universities, this distinguished institution, and the overall National Academies, to adopt and promote science road maps. A few people have tried them, but, like many new ideas, they get lost if they are not directed by an enthusiastic head person. I was able to do it in my company, where I was at every technology road map meeting for 10 years.

This time around I’m going to succeed, and I’ll tell you how. I have discussed road maps extensively at home with one of my grandsons, a sophomore at Harvard studying physics. After he and Leon Lederman (a wonderful man, very intelligent, who looks down his nose at my ideas on science road maps) and I had spent a number of hours together talking six or eight weeks prior to this meeting, my grandson came to me and said, “Grandpa, we’ve started these conversations by you saying the first thing we must do is talk about how we think. We have to know how to think in a process way about creativity, and we must never think negatively about an idea until time for judgment comes. I have an idea, and I expect you to accept it.” I said, “I do.” He said, “How would you like me to lead the science road map parade?” I said, “William, that’s a statement of genius.” I called Leon Lederman and asked him what he thought of the idea. He said, “I’ll work with him.” Now when I talk to people who run great institutions, they say, “Oh, my God, we have to get a couple of our kids on this road map committee.”

To write a road map, you have to bring together 100 or

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement