The IBM GIO event is wrapping up and its been a day of interesting discussion and thought provoking ideas. Nick Donofrio reminded the audience that many questions will be discussed without clear answers - we shouldn't expect a quick answer to these issues.
During the afternoon sessions panelists discussed innovations for the environment, transportation and mobility. The panelists offer a diverse perspective and engaged the audience in a healthy debate of what doesn't work today and what may work tomorrow.
With regard to the environment, here are some interesting takeaways:
- Aluminum in land fills could have an economic proposition if we discover an innovative way to recycle what's in the land fills. Think about the land fills near you. What's on top of them? Homes, golf course, community parks, etc. How do you recycle the aluminum in those land fills without disrupting the ecosystem that's been build around and on top of it?
- Is it worth it to recycle? Or does it cost too much. It's not an easy answer. It's worth it to recycle metals. Paper products are worth it most of time. Other products aren't worth the effort to recycle the firs time, but if they are continually recycled over time there is clear value.
- We must also pay attention to the front end of the equation - innovation design. We should infuse our labs with the innovation in design that will help the environment in the first place.
- Conservation will not sustain the environment. It that model, the environment will always sit behind the economic paradigm.
- Take a look at building design. If we applied all the technical innovation available today we could cut building energy consumption by 50%. Soon, buildings could be self sustaining with regard to energy consumption.
- Limited water resources will affect water quality. Limited availability will cause health implications.
- China is the fourth largest country with regard to water supply. 80% of Chinese lakes are polluted. Some large rivers don't reach the ocean.
- The ski industry is a big proponent of energy/climate innovation. Why? There's no snow! Which means less run-off and less water...you see where this headed.
- Interesting point from the audience: Where is the ocean in all this discussion about water? Oh yeah...the ocean....
With regard to transportation:
- Some have suggested the idea of privatizing the freeway system. Where would the proceeds go? Can we soak the rich who would drive these freeways and spend the proceeds on other initiatives?
- The losers in congestion are the poor, not the rich The rich can choose when and how to get somewhere. That is the problem outside the U.S.
- When cars are smarter than the driver, it doesn't help congestion
- There's always a fool smart enough to fool a fool-proof system!
- Americans are committed to their cars, not the fuel that powers them.
Heavy stuff, eh? My brain hurts just writing it down let alone trying to wrestle these problems but it's great to be thinking about them. I had some fun conversations with people about the digital age we live in and perpetuate. Many of us are responsible for the products that are creating more information, spreading that information or playing/presenting that information. Personally, I love it. I gravitate toward the tools and gadgets that allow me to consume more information, but where does it lead? Do we running around finding outlets to power our gadgets to get more stuff on them pretending to have enough time to consume the information they hold? And if so, when do we have time to stop and think about the issues discussed at this event? Something to think about...when you have a minute....
One point that was made made me feel better - as one of the people who run around filling myself up on gadgets and information. We are all presented with dozens, perhaps hundreds or thousands, of choices each day that affect things like the environment, energy and mobility. Turning the lights off, taking public transportation, recycling. I do some but not enough. Even if I work a few new habits into my routine - little things that may not stand out on a macro level - they will, if combined with everyone else's "little things," have macro effects that we can point to at the next GIO event - GIO 3.0.
Here's a great closing thought that someone offered: From a Chinese proverb - If you do not change direction you will end up where you are going.