Globalization Under Threat 

The paranoia is building. From the CHIPS Act to proposals for absurdly high tariffs (60% on goods from China isn’t going to help anyone) to banning TikTok, the world is on the verge of reversing decades of progress and exchanging real progress for delusionary gains.
Efforts to localize production and economic development with vast government subsidies are being proposed or enacted in the United States, the EU, China, India, and any other economic center that can think of it.
Hiding behind walls has never worked and makes life worse for everyone.

Transformation, Disruption, Opportunity, and Hype

Global technological transformation and disruptive technologies create extraordinary opportunities – and magnified risks. Headline-grabbing hyperbole dominates each news cycle, and some forecasts and bewildering futuristic projections can mostly be dismissed. However, meaningful substance and catalytic disruptive change are permeating all industries.
A context to understand these developments – a broader, methodical, and disciplined way to think about disruption and transformation- shows that extraordinary opportunities on a highly competitive global scale are emerging.
Artificial intelligence and AI-generated tools, digital assets, blockchain-based businesses, gene editing, and DNA sequencing profoundly impact the world’s most important industries. New technological innovations and platforms enable unprecedented disruption to all business and economic models.

The AI Horizon

Artificial intelligence is poised to significantly impact various fields and activities, transforming how we approach creativity, professional activities, science, and many more domains. Disruption will accelerate the development of new innovative businesses and strategies in finance, medicine, data management, systems engineering, materials science, art, and other industries. AI’s impact will be profound and multifaceted, driving innovation and efficiency and posing challenges regarding ethics, job displacement, and new skills and regulations. As AI continues to evolve, its integration into these areas will likely shape the future of human society in significant ways.

A Golden Age of Miraculous Cures…Perhaps

The first gene-edited approved drug (treating sickle cell anemia) is the first commercial rewriting of human genomes. Is this a new “Golden Age” for medicine? There is great promise, and the potential to treat unmet medical needs, scale dramatic innovations to commercial applications, and transform life sciences is enormous. Since every medicine is an intersection of scientific, technical, and clinical understanding, many new treatments are suddenly arriving because of the convergence of dramatic advancements in science, technical knowledge, and clinical results. Modern medicine is witnessing a transformative era of groundbreaking innovations and technological advancements. We are witnessing a renaissance in drug treatment driven by innovations in immunotherapy, weight management, vaccine development, gene editing, and AI. These advances reshape medical treatments and fundamentally alter our approach to health and disease. As these technologies mature and their applications broaden, the future of medicine holds unprecedented potential for improving human health and longevity. A golden age – with a bit of hype.

An Optimist’s Vision of AI

The era of artificial intelligence is here, and it’s generating despair and fear over the loss of control and the worry that artificial intelligence is about to unleash killer robots and enslave humanity. Perhaps…or, something else. Artificial intelligence will improve lives and generate greater access to education, improve healthcare, and advance climate science. Among many other improvements, AI’s benefits greatly outweigh its costs. AI has its costs since everything comes with a price (there are always both sides to the ledger), but the extraordinary benefits that artificial intelligence can unleash are worth the effort. Don’t slow down, pause, or restrict research, development, and AI applications. Prometheus gave the world fire and while we can still cause great harm, it was among the single greatest advancements for humankind. Artificial intelligence can be the same thing for our modern-day recipients of fire from the gods. But, we can’t be naïve. We can still burn the earth down if we are not careful.

AI will not destroy the world – and is more likely to save it. I’s trajectory points towards a future where it not only enhances technological capabilities but also enriches human lives. Its evolving role will be characterized by a synergy between human and artificial intelligence, propelling societal progress and opening new frontiers of innovation and discovery is not just a technological advancement; it’s a catalyst for a new era of human endeavor.

Its impact is vast, touching every aspect of our lives and work. As AI continues to evolve, its role in shaping our society and driving innovation will only become more significant, opening new horizons for growth, creativity, and human potential.

ChatGPT Is Not Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is disrupting all software and services – when applied within narrow and specific parameters. It performs useful tasks and provides meaningful information for decision-makers but within well-defined data sets.AI still has significant limitations, and large language artificial general intelligence programs like ChatGPT (AGI) may not be the big leap forward many imagine. It is not the vanguard of a new era permeating every aspect of our professional, academic, and personal life. AGI’s usefulness is overstated, and it is not going to happen. Intelligence is not a lumbering statistical engine searching for patterns to generate a useful response. AGI is. The predictions of AGI are superficial and dubious. True intelligence is the ability to think and express improbable but insightful ideas (e.g., Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, Newton’s Laws of Motion, and many other improbable, insightful, and truly intelligent insights). Machine learning cannot do this. ChatGPT is a lumbering statistical engine searching for pattern recognition and feeding on incomprehensible terabytes of data and extrapolating the most probable answer. By contrast, the human mind is an efficient elegant system operating with small amounts of information. Human intelligence creates explanations. It does not infer conclusions by brute force and spurious correlations.

Globalization and Optimism

Isolationism, fragmentation, and pessimism always fail. Globalization has been everyone’s favorite punching bag for a while. It is hard to feel optimistic about its prospects. However, globalization has a better future. If you are a fan of globalization, cooperation, and comparative advantage, the last decade has been extremely challenging. Ten years ago was a time of optimism on a global scale. However, economic and geopolitical forces have combined to add friction and fragmentation to global exchange. The benefits are now even greater and with everyone’s self-interest and mutual benefit, this geopolitical stalemate will pass – more quickly than is commonly thought today. Cooperation, integration, and mutual benefit win in the end. It is time to be optimistic once again.

Discovery, Innovation, and Crisis

Our most intractable problems cannot be solved with behavior modification, conservation, or our existing technology, regardless of its advanced or widespread applications.

Only new knowledge creating innovative solutions can address our most intractable problems. This can only be achieved through basic scientific discoveries and then combining these discoveries with enterprise-based innovation, commercial discipline, and competition. Innovation, creativity, and competitive dynamics create the most effective innovations, the best solutions, and the most sustainable companies. Developing the best public policy as well as the best structure to enable innovative and creative solutions, as well as the economic incentive to scale these opportunities and make them economically sustainable.

Central planning, bureaucratic industrial policy, government-led economic management, and dictatorial focus have always failed, and always will.

Industrial Policy – Stupidity by Another Name

Zero-sum thinking has begun. Despite comparative advantage, mutual cooperation, and specialization proving indisputably more beneficial than any other approach to economic interaction, this ideal is under threat. Rules and norms for economic integration lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, created an order-of-magnitude increase in the average wealth of the Western population, and benefited countless hundreds of millions enabling a way of life otherwise unimaginable post-World War II. Now that system is under threat as developed countries subsidize alternative energy, attract manufacturing via expensive subsidies, and restrict the flow of goods and capital. Mutual benefit is out; national gain is now the highest priority. In other words, stupidity and zero-sum thinking have taken over. A handful of bureaucrats, regardless of how brilliant each may be, can never equal the mind of the market. Management and control usually spell disaster eventually. Managed focus on technological development for products and services the central government believes have greater substantial benefit to the overall society may not be calamitous, but the law of unintended consequences has not been repealed. It will be inefficient, substandard, and create potentially dangerous side effects. Innovation, creative freedom, and unstructured thought are essential components to the development of any technology of substance and disruptive benefit.

The Broken Road of Innovation

Discovery, innovation, and practical application are never a straight line and, the best analogy is “the broken road.” Our greatest discoveries and advancements have confusing, uneven, and broken pathways that often lead somewhere astonishing – even though at the outset the initial steps could never envision this as a final destination. Artificial intelligence is the embodiment of this concept. A powerful tool that can lead anywhere given the imagination and unlimited creativity of its users. There may be nowhere more impactful, generating therapies for unmet medical needs in record time, than artificial intelligence’s ability to mimic evolution in minutes. The real outcomes are still unpredictable, but the potential is unfathomable. AI languages that produce pictures seem to be initially relegated toward a combination of Tik-Tok influencers, outraged artists, and those with limited imaginations and creative skills. But now, AI-generated pictures can use text to direct specific protein designs with properties of shape, size, and/or function that make it possible for these new proteins to perform specific tasks on demand. This breakthrough may lead to more efficient and effective drug development and, the discovery in minutes of what evolution would otherwise have taken millions of years to develop.