TWC Lesson 10

This week’s lesson was on Technology Assessment & Forecasting.

The main focus of this week’s lesson was to look and access the future and possibility of new technologies.

Drivers for technology assessment and forecasting:
-Exponential growth in the range of new technologies with potential world changing significance

-The need to gain an understanding of what kinds of changes a new technology innovation might bring- in economic, social, ethical/legal, environmental and other terms

  • new advancements and machinery have taken over the jobs of manual labour in the assembly line today. Is this really beneficial? Will the increase in efficiency actually help to reduce the happiness level of the workforce?

-The need to prioritize in deciding whether and when to invest in research and development of new innovations and technologies

-The need to prioritize, given limited resources, on whether and when to implement and use new innovations and technologies – especially important in developing countries

Commonly used foresight methodologies

  • working back from the future and not forward from the present
  • Brainstorming

Why do we need to bother with foresight?

-It allows us to understand how technology may change future methods. it is to ensure technology reaches its full potential and its used for its best purpose in future.
-Supports policy and strategy development
-Network Building (people with similar interests can come together and study the issue)

This week’s lesson emphasises the need to embrace changes as we progress. When innovating new technologies, we need to think of the future. It is crucial that we look forward instead of harping on the past and continue to stay ahead in the race, otherwise we will definitely lose out. Moreover, as we relook into Yali’s question, developing countries who start to access and forecast new possible technologies in future has the potential to be a key player in the market and it is of paramount importance that these governments focus on both the short and long term goals for the country.


TWC Lesson 9

Claytronics- using micro robots to model structures, such as cars, from scratch

Quote by Albert Einstein that was shared with us today:
“Imagination is more important than knowledge..”
-If you only limit yourself to what you know, you wouldn’t go far. But if you’re open to new ideas and perspectives, you’re more likely to succeed.

Going back to Yali’s question: how do we develop countries with technology?
-We need to understand the inequality in each country and how we can make use of our current resources to solve this problem

Drivers for the development of emerging and future technologies:
-Unmet market opportunity and need (Innovate and come up with a whole new way to develop future technology)
-Market driven R&D (the need to come up with solutions for our problems)
-Growing body of scientific and technological know-how make new technologies that were inconceivable even 10 years ago increasingly possible today- Create new solutions for our unimagined needs
-Supply can create demand- where people don’t realize they need it until they experience it (E.g. Computers, Walkmans, IPhones)
-Mass media and advertising (changing perceptions of our needs)

Confluence of the 4 “Smarts”

  • smart people
  • smart ideas
  • smart money
  • smart alliances and partnerships

Interesting and new emerging technologies:
Robotics-future implication of technological singularity
Surveillance technologies
Biometric technologies
Fuel cells and other new energy technologies
-Artificial intelligence systems
-Grid computing – cloud computing & how everything is shifting online
-Computer-based simulation technologies – electronic games
-Knowledge management technologies- Need to shift to analytics to make sense of the vast amounts of information out there.

Another quote shared with us is that “innovation distinguishes the leader from the follower”

Disruptive change-  completely change what the technology is

The key takeaway lesson from today’s topic is related to one of the quotes by Geroge Bernard Shaw- “You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But i dream things that never were and I say ‘Why not'”. This was quite an impactful quote because it’s not only very relevant to me in this SMU journey, but also because it relates to the idea of a “falling star” and “rising star”. With regards to “Why not”, only when we open our minds to new possibilities will we then be able to open the doors to success and achieve technological advancements in future.

I would rate today’s lesson 7/10.

TWC Lesson 8

Today’s lesson on Energy and World Change discusses the importance of shifting from our current unsustainable fossil fuel-based energy intensive economy to an environmentally sound and sustainable Clean and Green approach. This is extremely impertinent

Drivers of global energy change:
-Rising energy consumption & economic development
(China currently uses 25% of oil compared to US, but China’s population if 4x that of US. This percentage will definitely increase in future.)

-The need for sustainability (renewable energy sources)

-New technologies and approaches (increasing energy efficiency/pollution prevention) increasingly adapted to minimize impact on environment

-Energy Security: being more energy efficient
-Energy as a source of income for country (E.g. Nigeria, Middle East)
-Energy for the poor: biomass stoves/solar refrigerators (may not be long term solution)
-Global Carbon Market: Dominated by fossil fuel market
-Energy & transportation technology
-Biotechnology and energy

Potential sources of energy:
Above ground

  • sun-huge potential for energy. with photovoltaics that already exists in the industry, it is very efficient to make use of solar energy
  • wind
  • water
  • biomass
  • waves

Below ground

  • coal
  • oil
  • gas
  • geo-thermal-invest in clean energy (China is ahead in market, followed by Brazil)

What i found interesting in the lesson was that photovoltaics is a very viable solution for renewable energy. It generates electricity from solar energy by converting energy from the sun directly to electricity.  Over the years, photovoltaics has evolved and has become more efficient. Then again, this efficiency differs across countries. It really depends on the geographical location of countries and conditions it faces. For example, in Singapore where it is hot throughout, it would be efficient to use photovoltaics. However, for other countries that do not face very hot weather throughout and are unexposed to the sun all year round, it would be rather inefficient for them.  Having said that, photovoltaics is definitely the way to go for future energy. It is extremely clean and does not produce any harmful gases into our atmosphere. Moreover, it is a good replacement to the usual convention of burning fossil fuels, which is going to run out very soon at the rate we are using them.

Key takeaway points would be that good leadership is beneficial for sustainable development. At times, decisions that benefit the community may not be well-received with the public, hence this is when leaders step in and intervene in the situation. Currently, China is investing a lot into new and clean technologies to benefit the country.  Given the quote, “technology is easy, people are hard”, it may be difficult to convince and change people’s mindsets. For these green technologies to exist in the market, governments have to push for for this technology forward with new investments and researches. Initially, people may be reluctant to accept new forms of technologies due to the costs involved or no benefit received, however, if the government can come up with incentives education campaigns or for individuals or subsidies to companies to change to green technology, we could really see green technology going far.

Government intervention is definitely very important if we want to overcome the problem of non-renewable sources(fossil fuels). The government has to ensure there is sustainability in the country by dealing with the problem of our infinite wants and needs and put green technology into place soon to support growth in the industry.

I would rate today’s lesson an 8/10 for the interesting insights!

TWC Lesson 7

Today’s lesson was on BioBusiness Revolution: Agribiology, environmental life sciences and industrial biotechnology

We explored the different colours of biotechnology:
red-biomedical uses
green-plants and animals
blue-marine applications
white-industrial applications
We looked at how urbanization is an increasing trend today, where people are becoming more educated and consumption habits are changing.

Key lessons to note from this lesson

Agri-veterinary & Food Bio  Business
-Agriculture- there are summit opportunities within agriculture today, where people are moving towards consuming organic food, and there is undoubtedly a growing market towards organic food. However, much more education and awareness has to be done to better teach people how to be sustainable.

-Fisheries & aquaculture- fish cultivating

-Animal husbandry

-Forest & Lumber- In America, only 4-5% of forests left. The Amazon forest is heavily being lost.

-Agri biotechnology- GM food. Labeling should be encouraged

-Food processing-preserving food for longer periods

-Food biotechnology- getting into stem cells and production of burgers


Farmer to farmist: Increasingly, specialised knowledge for farming is needed and people are beginning to start taking over farming companies and processes which help increase productivity and efficiency

Shifting towards GM Food?- there has been a debate around countries as to whether it is appropriate to move towards GM food. It is amazing how we see two different countries taking different approaches. While the EU is making it mandatory to label GM products, and is in fact rather hesitant in moving towards it, on the other hand, in the US, the government and companies are encouraging non labelling of GM products and seem to be pushing for GM food in the industry.

Food security: condition where all people, at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Everybody definitely has a right to adequate food and to be free from hunger. The more sustainable our agriculture is, the less damages we will encounter.

This week’s presentation was a continuation from last week’s lesson and it really enlightened me as i initially thought biobusiness was only about healthcare. Presentations wise, it was eye opening to learn about how high protein steak is being made from human waste, yet it is definitely something I would not try even if it its free of charge! I’ll rate today’s lesson a 8/10.