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Perspectives on Global Technology

In the first half of the forum, each panelist explored a specific dimension of the global spread of technology. The topics varied widely—from reducing poverty to the impact of young people on technology to the need for systems thinking in engineering. But all seven presenters foresaw a world in which engineering will be fundamentally different from what it has been.

ENGINEERING FOR THE OTHER 90 PERCENT

Many people on Earth are living longer and better lives than ever before because of engineering. Life expectancy in the United States a century ago was 47 years. Now it is about 77 years, largely because of improvements in sanitation, food and water quality, health care, and other technological systems designed at least in part by engineers.

But the engineering profession has focused largely on the needs of a relatively small percentage of people, said Bernard Amadei, professor of civil engineering at the University of Colorado and founder of Engineers Without Borders. Life expectancy in Zambia is only about 32.5 years. Eighteen countries in the world still have a life expectancy of less than 50 years, and 79 have a life expectancy of less than 70 years. On an average day, 5,000 people die from indoor air pollution; 5,000 to 10,000 die from inadequate sanitation; 5,000 die from malaria; and comparable numbers die from tuberculosis and HIV infection. Altogether, Amadei said, 25,000 to 75,000 people die every day from causes that are clearly preventable, or as many as 200,000 people per week. That number is comparable to the death toll from the Haiti earthquake—week after week, month after month, year after year.



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1 Perspectives on Global Technology In the first half of the forum, each panelist explored a specific dimen- sion of the global spread of technology. The topics varied widely—from reducing poverty to the impact of young people on technology to the need for systems thinking in engineering. But all seven presenters fore - saw a world in which engineering will be fundamentally different from what it has been. ENGINEERING FOR THE OTHER 90 PERCENT Many people on Earth are living longer and better lives than ever before because of engineering. Life expectancy in the United States a century ago was 47 years. Now it is about 77 years, largely because of improvements in sanitation, food and water quality, health care, and other technological systems designed at least in part by engineers. But the engineering profession has focused largely on the needs of a relatively small percentage of people, said Bernard Amadei, professor of civil engineering at the University of Colorado and founder of Engi - neers Without Borders. Life expectancy in Zambia is only about 32.5 years. Eighteen countries in the world still have a life expectancy of less than 50 years, and 79 have a life expectancy of less than 70 years. On an average day, 5,000 people die from indoor air pollution; 5,000 to 10,000 die from inadequate sanitation; 5,000 die from malaria; and comparable numbers die from tuberculosis and HIV infection. Altogether, Amadei said, 25,000 to 75,000 people die every day from causes that are clearly preventable, or as many as 200,000 people per week. That number is comparable to the death toll from the Haiti earthquake—week after week, month after month, year after year. 

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 GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY Bernard Amadei, founder of Engineers Without Borders and professor of civil engineer- ing at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Amadei founded Engineers Without Borders to address the needs of people who work simply to stay alive by the end of the day. The organiza- tion now has some 12,000 U.S. members, about half of whom are work- ing in 48 different countries. There are 400 chapters in the United States alone, some consisting largely of students, others of professionals. Amadei cited three particular challenges for engineering. The first is engineering in an emergency. What does engineering look like two hours after an earthquake, a week after an earthquake, eight months after an earthquake? How do engineers make the transition from rapid response to recovery to development to sustainable development? Engineers tend not to be in the field after emergencies, despite the contributions they can make to recovery, sanitation, education, and policy. “I was in Haiti in March. Not a pretty picture. There were 1.6 million people in the streets of Haiti in March. They are still in the streets of Haiti.” A second challenge is engineering in native cultures. Engineering does not necessarily look the same in developing parts of the world as it does in the developed world. Amadei described an example of what he called frugal engineering—an engineer in India who devised a

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 PERSPECTIVES ON GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY solar-powered electrocardiographic device that costs $800 and can gen- Engineering in emergencies, engineering in native cultures, erate an electrocardiogram for about and engineering in extreme or a dollar. “Eight hundred dollars is very difficult conditions—have pretty much what I would pay if I in many ways not yet been would go to Kaiser Permanente for invented. “There is a huge one EKG in the United States. Here environment for innovation, is an example of frugal engineering. but we need to change our mindset.” Your market is 5 billion people.” Bernard Amadei Finally, Amadei described the challenge of engineering in difficult conditions. Recently he was work- ing in Peru at an elevation of 14,000 to 15,000 feet. “Try to find water at 14,000 feet. Try to find energy at 14,000 feet. And yet people live in these very difficult conditions.” These three areas of engineering—engineering in emergencies, engi- neering in native cultures, and engineering in difficult conditions—have in many ways not yet been invented. But tremendous progress could be made in each, especially if the efforts of engineers were complemented by those of doctors, dentists, nurses, teachers, and other professionals. “There is a huge environment for innovation,” he said, “but we need to change our mindset.” GLOBAL EXPANSION OF THE RESEARCH WORKFORCE In recent years, there has been a major global increase in the number of people engaged in scientific and technological research. According to the 2010 Science and Technology Indicators, the research workforce in the United States and Europe grew by about 35 percent. In China and several other countries, the research workforce doubled.1 Three factors have contributed to the rapid expansion of the sci - entific and technological workforce, said Ruth David, president and chief executive officer of Analytic Services Inc. First, greater access to information through digital technologies has enabled people all over the world to build more rapidly on the collective knowledge of the science and engineering communities. Second, greater access to people has made it possible to forge networks and collaborations without regard to 1 National Science Board. 2010. Science and Technology Indicators 00. Arlington, Va.: National Science Foundation.

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 GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY geographic boundaries. Third, greater access to computing has put the power of supercomput- ers on a desktop, and the advent of cloud computing promises even greater capabilities. The United States still has the lead in several indicators of research productivity, but the trend lines are raising concerns, said David. In 2008, for the first time, more than half of the pat- ents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trade Office were awarded to companies outside the United States. Surveys conducted rou- tinely by the National Venture Capital Association indicate that venture capitalists intend to Ruth A. David, president and CEO, Analytic increase investment IN Asia and Services Inc. other areas and perhaps reduce venture capital investments in the United States. “You can argue that the baseline still isn’t bad. We have a robust VC investment community. But again, I think it is important to look at the trends.” A recent National Research Council survey of six nations— Brazil, China, India, Japan, Russia, In 2008, for the first time, more than half of new U.S. patents and Singapore—found that these were awarded to companies nations are generally pursuing a outside the United States. two-pronged strategy in science Ruth David and technology.2 One part of their strategy is to focus on areas where science and technology can address particular needs in their respec- tive countries. The other part is to build their economies in the global marketplace, thereby capturing a greater share of the benefits of scien - tific and technological advances. Most sobering, according to David, is a 50-year road map for science and technology published by the Chinese 2 National Research Council. 2010. S&T Strategies of Six Countries: Implications for the United States. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press.

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 PERSPECTIVES ON GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY Academy of Sciences. “Having been captive inside the Beltway for a few too many years, it is hard to plan 50 days ahead, let alone 50 years.” Wisdom, expertise, and talent are everywhere and cannot be con- fined by national borders. The transnational nature of science and tech - nology creates a delicate balance of challenges and opportunities for the United States. For example, businesses increasingly view cross-border exchanges as collaborative opportunities, not just as competitive threats. Although U.S. universities in the past have relied on foreign students coming to the United States to study, today they have international col- laborations, international campuses, or both. Similarly, U.S. industries today have both manufacturing plants and research facilities abroad. The world may not yet be flat, said David, but it is certainly flattening. THE GLOBAL YOUTH MOVEMENT IN TECHNOLOGY In past generations, people tended to create their identities from what they wore, what they owned, or what they controlled, said John Seely Brown, a visiting scholar and advisor to the provost at the Uni - versity of Southern California. Today’s young people increasingly forge their identities from what they create and what they share. “This is a very positive fact,” said Brown. It helps to explain the do-it-yourself (DIY) and do-it-together (DIT) movements that are sweeping across the world. It also influences how people think about and use technology, no matter what their age. Brown described four aspects of the global youth movement in tech- nology. The first is the open-source movement, which extols the virtue of producing software and other goods and making them freely available. More than half the web sites in the world are running the open-source programs Linux and Apache, said Brown. One day shortly before the forum he logged onto an open-source site and saw that in a single day the site had provided 2.8 million downloads of computer code, had uploaded 4,200 contributions of code, had posted 1,200 forum entries, and had tracked 576 programming bugs. “This is a worldwide move- ment,” he said. Brown said that when he was an undergraduate he became well known for writing code that more or less worked, but no one could figure out how it worked. “That doesn’t cut it today,” he said. “It’s the other way around.” Young people write code today so that it can be read and improved by others. In doing so, they build social capital and per- sonal reputations. In this way, the open-source movement has become

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 GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY a new mechanism for creating and expanding technology. The second phenomenon Brown discussed is the union of amateurs and professionals. The world amateur comes from the Latin amare, meaning to love, and amateurs are applying their love of particular topics in pro- fessional settings. For example, a simple $3,000 Dobsonian tele- scope, when combined with a charge-coupled device sensor, has power equivalent to the 200-inch telescope at the Palo- mar Observatory in California when it began operating in 1949. Furthermore, small tele- scopes around the world are now networked, and amateurs John Seely Brown, visiting scholar and advi- are watching the sky 24 hours a sor to the Provost at University of Southern day and making new discover- California and the independent co-chairman ies. As an example, Brown cited of the Deloitte Center for the Edge. the 2-meter Faulkes telescope on Maui that can be accessed through the Internet by schoolchildren, museums, and amateurs. He also mentioned the rediscovery by two schoolchildren of an asteroid that had been previously tracked and lost. “Those two kids are scientists for life,” he said. “The joy of finding something like that and getting national, if not international, recognition for it was really tremendous.” The third trend Brown cited is a return to making things. Events such as Maker Faires (http://makerfaire.com/) and facilities such as Fab Labs (http://fab.cba.mit.edu/) are engaging students in the design and construction of technologies. “You learn by being tinkerers,” said Brown. “Most of us in this room probably grew up that way.” Finally, Brown discussed engagement in imaginative worlds made possible by technologies. Children who have become fans of the Harry Potter books do not just read them. They contribute to fan sites, con- struct mythical worlds, and fill in the back stories of characters. On one site, 386,000 stories have been archived. Global discussion groups

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 PERSPECTIVES ON GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY have children reading and writing outside of school in ways that were “ . . .kids are creating ideas and learning from each not possible before. Similarly, mas- other at blinding speed that sive multiplayer games like World is very much mimicking the of Warcraft bring together millions speed at which knowledge is of participants to create new and being created in the scientific imaginary worlds. When Brown community.” recently logged onto a World of John Seely Brown Warcraft site, 15,000 new ideas had been posted in a single day. “These kids are producing knowledge amazingly fast,” he said. “You might think [this is] for fun or for wasting time. But these kids are creating ideas and learning from each other at blinding speed that is very much mimicking the speed at which knowledge is being created in the scien - tific community. They are used to constantly absorbing and adding back to that knowledge on a day-by-day basis.” THE ONE LAPTOP PER CHILD REVOLUTION Of the approximately 1.2 billion children in the world, half live in poverty, and 100 million do not go to school at all. “I don’t mean they drop out of school at some point,” said Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the One Laptop per Child Association Inc. and founder and chairman emeritus of the Media Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “A hundred million don’t go to first grade.” Adding underserved children who are not counted in this statistic could double that number. One way to counter the tremendous education gap in the world is to build schools and train teachers, and this clearly needs to be done. The One Laptop per Child project takes a complementary approach. It has designed a very low-cost, low-power, interconnected laptop and has distributed these laptops in large numbers to children. This approach is based on five principles: 1. The laptops are designed to be owned and used by children. 2. Laptops are geared for children aged 6 to 12, although they can also be used by younger or older children. 3. Every child and teacher in a given region should have a laptop. 4. Laptops are designed to provide an engaging wireless network. 5. Laptops should be able to use free and open-source soft- ware tools.

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 GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY Uruguay is the first country to have achieved digital satura- tion. Every child in the country aged 5 to 15 has a laptop with an e-mail address, and WiFi connectivity is widespread. “The transformation is extraor- dinary,” said Negroponte. “The children are teaching their par- ents how to read and write. Older kids are teaching their younger siblings. There is anec- dote after anecdote.” Providing a laptop for every child changes the nature of teaching. In places like the city of Gaza, where the foundation has also been working, teaching had been very rigid, with chil- dren lined up in perfect lines and afraid to ask questions in Nicholas Negroponte, founder and chair- case they might be wrong. With man of the One Laptop per Child nonprofit laptops, the children can exert organization. responsibility over their own learning. Truancy rates that were 20 to 30 percent have dropped effectively to zero. The idea of one laptop per child is not new, said Negroponte. When he was working in Cambodia in the early 1980s, the laptops children took home at night were often the brightest light source in the village. Some of the earliest laptops designed for wide distribution in the developing world were built with a crank on the side to provide power. Although the crank proved to be impractical, “a lot of people remember it, and I still today meet people who say, “The children [with laptops] are teaching their parents how ‘Where’s the crank?’ because every- to read and write. Older kids body remembers the pencil-yellow are teaching their younger crank.” siblings. There is anecdote These laptops connected remote after anecdote.” villages to the world. If each of 100 Nicholas Negroponte interconnected laptops contained

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 PERSPECTIVES ON GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY 100 different books, a village could have immediate access to 10,000 books, more books than most elementary school libraries have. Furthermore, the laptops can be connected outside the village to millions of books. Private enterprise can provide some of these resources, but not all. “When I wake up in the morning, I ask myself one question,” said Negroponte. “Will normal market forces do [what I’m doing today]? If the answer is yes, then stop. So everything we have done and everything we plan to do is what normal market forces will not do.” THE COMING ERA OF SYSTEMS THINKING The U.S. semiconductor industry has captured more than half of the $250 billion worldwide market and exports more than 80 percent of what it produces, making it the number one exporting industry in America over the past five years. Moreover, the semiconductor industry enables a $1.5 trillion electronics industry that has been transform- ing daily life. “The success of the semiconductor industry has been a remarkable achievement by many different measures,” said Ray Stata, cofounder and chairman of the board of Analog Devices Inc. One of the most important factors behind the success of the semi - conductor industry has been the preeminence of U.S. research universi - ties. These universities nurture not just technical discoveries that drive innovation and growth but also the technical workforce that has made the semiconductor industry a success. Even though for many decades the United States has not generated enough American-born engineers to meet the requirements of the U.S. engineering workforce, research universities have attracted the best and brightest students from around the world to study in the United States, especially at the graduate level. Moreover, many of these engineering students remain in the United States to work and make essential contri- butions to U.S. companies. Although existing statistics are uncertain, at least 70 percent of foreign students, and possibly as many as 90 percent, are still in the United States five years after graduation. “There is no way that we would have been able to achieve the things that we have in our company and in our industry without the contributions of these foreign- born engineers,” said Stata. Of course, the success of the semiconductor industry is due to other factors as well. In particular, large and small companies play an essential role in the continuing development of the technical workforce and in commercializing new technologies created in universities and industry.

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0 GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY At least in the semiconductor industry, said Stata, “entrepreneurs in America know how to create and commercialize technology better than in any other place in the world.” However, the semiconductor industry and universities both face momentous changes in the years ahead. Stata cited the late Wharton School professor Russell Ackoff, a pioneer in systems thinking, who said the performance of a system depends much more on how well the parts of the system work together than on how well they work separately. Yet the parts of universities still work largely in isolation rather than together. Universities historically have focused on excellence and inno - vation in individual academic disciplines, but the complex problems societies face today require the integration of disciplines. Universities must move beyond rewarding innovation and excellence within disci- plines to optimizing innovation and excellence across disciplines. The same observation can be made of industry. In the past, custom- ers of the semiconductor industry typically bought components they could combine and integrate into their own systems. But customers today generally do not buy components and design their own systems. They want a supplier to take responsibility for integrating the parts and Raymond S. Stata, chairman of the board and cofounder of Analog Devices Inc.

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 PERSPECTIVES ON GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY delivering them in the form of a complete systems solution. To accom- modate this shift in demand, companies must recognize and reward the role of systems engineers. This is not an either-or game, Stata observed. Innovation at the component level remains essential. But there are even greater oppor- “Our role should be to move tunities for innovation in putting the goalposts, to continue to components together in unique make American universities and productive ways. “As we look and industry more productive to the future, that will become more and the destination for the important and will provide the best and the brightest technical opportunity for American industry people from around the world.” Ray Stata and universities to stay ahead in the technology race.” Companies and universities in other countries are struggling to achieve parity with the United States in disciplinary excellence, and they are making tremendous progress. This is something “we should all celebrate and for which they should take great pride.” Yet these institutions are far behind U.S. institutions in achieving excellence in interdisciplinary research and education. “It will take literally decades for them to build the depth and breadth of resources and experiences that it will take to compete broadly at the state of the art.” But the United States cannot stand still and wait for other countries to catch up, Stata insisted. “Our role should be to move the goalposts, to continue to make American universities and industry more produc - tive and the destination for the best and the brightest technical people from around the world.” Achieving this goal will require much greater attention to optimizing the performance of the whole as opposed to optimizing the performance of the parts. This is a significant challenge to institutions that already consider themselves successful at what they do. But this transition is inevitable. U.S. companies and universities have an opportunity to lead this trans - formation. In doing so, they will help not only themselves but also insti - tutions in other countries by demonstrating how systems thinking can improve the human condition. Finally, said Stata, his experience indicates that a very small fraction of the engineering workforce produces the large majority of the break - through innovations in the world—the innovations that have the greatest influence on the progress of mankind. We need to find ways to identify

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 GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY and support this small fraction t to advance the frontiers of knowledge and capability. The United States has a unique responsibility and opportunity to lead the way in thinking about how universities and companies will be different in the future. Systems-level thinking should be the guiding principle in moving forward. ERASING THE BOUNDARIES OF SPACE AND TIME In his former position as associate director for science and technol- ogy in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Eric Haseltine was responsible for coordinating the science and technology strategies of the national security agencies. Part of that job required tracking the development of science and technology in other countries. “It was a jaw-dropping, surprising experience,” he said One lesson he took away from that experience is that geography is dead. Technology development that used to happen exclusively in the United States and Europe can now happen anywhere in the world. “We no longer have the right of primacy in new technology.” Furthermore, the continuing acceleration of technology develop- ment has created new relationships “. . . we can regain . . . leadership by looking at this between science, technology, and wave of change that’s coming time. New phones or cameras used at us not as something that to be released every two years. Now will drown us but as something they come out every six months. we can surf to even more Google can issue a new software greatness.” release every week. Open-source Eric Haseltine projects can receive thousands of software contributions every day. This acceleration is not simply a continuation of past trends, said Haseltine. At some point a quantitative change becomes qualitative, and “you’re in a completely different universe without realizing it.” As an example, Haseltine described a recent request he received to develop a particular technology. He responded, not entirely truthfully, that the technology had already been developed. He then had one week to build and demonstrate a prototype. He quickly acquired components from Russia, East Germany, and China, downloaded open-source soft- ware from France to do image processing, and hired programmers in India. The final device had probably 200 million lines of code, Haseltine

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 PERSPECTIVES ON GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY said, but it was ready and work- ing in a week. “The interesting thing is that once it was all done and I took a step back and looked at it, I said, ‘Whoa, this thing is way different than I thought it was going to be.’” Combining the components in a particular way had produced capabilities much different from those of the individual components. Haseltine dubbed this phe- nomena “the sex of ideas,” a phrase coined by writer Matt Ridley. In a recent book, Ridley analyzed the sudden flowering of human culture 45,000 years ago when anatomically mod- ern humans began to move out of Africa into the rest of the Eric C. Haseltine, consultant, former asso- world.3 Some scientists have ciate director for science and technology in posited that a genetic mutation the Office of the Director of National Intel- flipped a switch in the human ligence, and former head of research and de- velopment at Disney Imagineering. brain, leading to more sophisti- cated language and higher levels of human creativity. But a more plausible explanation is that changes in population density and social structure led to a sudden increase in the cross-pollination of ideas. “That is really what innovation is about today,” said Haseltine. “That is what happened to me in this demo—I had created sex on my tabletop of ideas.” The greatest opportunity presented by globalization is another sud - den increase in the cross-pollination of ideas. The result will be a tsu - nami of change as time and space are mashed together. “We can whine . . . about the fact that America is losing its leadership in engineering, or we can regain that leadership by looking at this wave of change that’s coming at us not as something that will drown us but as something we can surf to even more greatness.” 3 Matt Ridley. 2010. The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Eoles. New York: HarperCollins.

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 GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY BECOMING A GLOBAL LEADER When Esko Aho was born in 1954, Finland was a small, poor, politi- cally and economically isolated, largely agrarian country. A half-century later, Finland is one of the most globally connected economies and soci - eties in the world and has a leadership position in mobile technologies, forestry, sectors of the metal industry, and other businesses. How did that happen, asked Aho, who was prime minister of Fin- land from 1991 to 1995 and is currently executive vice president of cor- porate relations and responsibility at Nokia. What were the ingredients necessary to make that transformation in just 50 years? The first necessary ingredient, he said, is education for all. In Fin - land, the impetus for this came not just from government. In the 1950s and 1960s, the people of Finland, both rich and poor, embraced the idea that investing in education would be good for the country as well as for individuals. This conviction in turn placed great emphasis on the impor- tance of good teachers. Today in Finland the nation’s most tal- ented and accomplished young people still want to become teachers. The second necessary ingre- dient is substantial investment in research and development. In the late 1970s, when Fin- land was investing only about 1 percent of its gross domestic product in R&D—which was less than the average for the Organisation for Economoic Co-operation and Develop- ment (OECD) countries at that time—it decided to increase its R&D investments to 2 percent of GDP by 1990. It succeeded. And even during a severe finan- cial crisis in the early 1990s when Aho was prime minister, Esko Aho, executive vice president, Corporate Relations and Responsi- R&D funding was increased by bility, Nokia, and former prime 80 percent. minister of Finland.

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 PERSPECTIVES ON GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY The third necessary ingredient is an industrial ecosystem condu- “A new generation of talented youngsters all over the world cive to innovation. According to wants to see that we are able Aho, Finland has continually and to do something good, and we substantially improved its innova- have to be able to show that.” tive capacity since it began indus- Esko Aho trializing in the 1940s. The last necessary ingredient is the ability to take advantage of crises. Finland has had a number of internal and external crises in recent decades, which it has used in the way the United States used the Sputnik crisis to foment change. Despite Finland’s great success over the past 50 years, Aho is wor- ried about the country’s future. “We are too satisfied with our achieve - ments and our capacity to make maximum use of our high-technology skills and talents,” he said. More broadly, the European countries and the United States still have a huge technological capacity at their dis - posal, but other ingredients for success are not there. As an example, Aho cited the lack of incentives for developing uses for mobile technolo- gies other than entertainment. “Why do we not use mobile technologies for education or for health care?” The countries that will succeed in the future are those with the capacity to combine different types of talents to achieve global competi - tiveness, he said. Traditional approaches to R&D and education are no longer sufficient. Multidisciplinary training and teams will be essential. Finally, Aho asked how young people can be convinced to study science and mathematics. Too many people believe that engineering creates problems rather than solves them. Companies must figure out how to get across the message that doing good business can be good for the world. “A new generation of talented youngsters all over the world wants to see that we are able to do something good, and we have to be able to show that.”

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