The 20/20 honorees profiled in this issue have their eyes both on the present and the future. Among them, inventor Ray Kurzweil and venture capitalist John Doerr have a particular focus on the future. An ardent student of technology trends, Kurzweil (see Page 71) has made a science of identifying the best timing for introducing inventions. The timing of a new idea is critical, Kurzweil says. Inventions that fail are generally introduced too early?before the enabling technology exists?or too late?after the market opportunity has passed.
Based on his mathematical models, which factor in the exponential growth of technology, Kurzweil, founder of Kurzweil Technologies, predicts that the next 20 years will yield as much progress as the entire 20th century?with advances accelerating so fast that they may become impossible to understand given our present levels of comprehension.
For his part, Doerr, general partner at Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers (see Page 64), believes that technology innovations will lead to cleaner, more efficient transportation, among other things. “The Segway, for example, addresses the fact that more than 40 percent of the world’s energy is wasted in traffic jams,” he says. “The Segway goes 15 miles a day on nine cents of electricity and emits no pollution.” Doerr also foresees major innovations in fuel cells and water distribution systems.
Doerr believes increased commerce connections will pave the way toward a more peaceful world. “The more we engage in trade around the world, the more interlinked are our prospects for prosperity and the safer world we’re going to have,” he says. “No nation has gone to war with a major trading partner.”