How can technology help solve some of the world's most pressing problems? It's a question that, coming up on a century now, the Rockefeller Foundation has been asking and helping to answer. Rather than light a cake for this milestone, the philanthropy recently held an event, asking that question of the next 100 years.
“For the past 99 years Rockefeller has had a mission to promote the well being of humankind throughout the globe. And the way we've done that is through some really catalytic innovations, so we thought as we approach our 100-year anniversary that we should invite as many people as we could to help us frame new problems and come up with new ideas for how we can affect social change,” says Zia Khan of the Rockefeller Foundation.
Technologies highlighted to help accelerate that change range from 3D printers, which could be put in developing countries to essentially print parts for broken devices or print entire devices on demand, to a vision of sensor filled cities being worked on by the MIT SENSEable City Lab, where information from new sensors and sensors in devices we already carry, like smartphones, can be used to understand cities better and make them more efficient.
“You can think of anything from energy consumption to waste management to the way we meet, the way we move and, as we saw in the Arab Spring, to also all of the governance systems,” says Carlo Ratti of MIT SENSEable City Lab.
Another idea being discussed is kill-free meat, when cells are taken from an animal like a cow and cultivated in a lab to essentially become a slab of beef.
The professor working on the project says having meat that doesn't require a slaughterhouse may actually have more potential benefits than one might realize.
“From much less resources we can make much more meat, which is economical, which is providing the world with meat. By providing different nutrients to the cells we could even make it more healthy for us,” says Mark Post of the University of Maastricht.
Researchers expect to produce the first burger in November but say mass production of this type of meat will probably take another 10 to 20 years.