“Unless somebody calls you crazy,” said inome CEO Naveen Jain, “you’re not dreaming big enough.”
Such was the spirit of Next: Tomorrow, Today, Thursday’s marquee Chicago Ideas Week event during which experts in food, tech, energy and more all predicted the future of their industries. Here’s the best of what they shared.
In the future …
1. We’ll be harvesting resources from the moon.
One way to deal with the growing scarcity of rare-earth elements (which are used in countless autos and electronics): get them on the moon. Indeed, in recent years, scientists have posited that lunar mining could yield all kinds of valuable resources — including Helium-3, which helps with cold fusion — and now Jain is trying to make that a reality. His company Moon Express aims to send robotic scavengers to the moon.
2. Our phones will charge in 30 seconds.
“Envision a world beyond batteries,” said Eesha Khare, the Harvard freshman who developed a “super-capacitor” that’s small enough to fit in a cell-phone battery and powerful enough to charge it in 20 to 30 seconds. Although the tech is nascent — during a demo at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, where she won $50,000, Khare used it to power an LED light — the potential is massive.
3. We’ll eat insects — happily.
High-protein, nutrient-rich, low-carb, low fat — were insects not, well, insects, they’d be a dieter’s dream. But within 20 years, said Josh Schonwald, author of The Taste of Tomorrow: Dispatches From the Future of Food, that perception of grossness — dominant in America — will start to change: “Edible insects are coming.” Already, there are grasshopper tacos in D.C., cicada sushi rolls in Connecticut, and toffee mealworms in San Francisco. And the Clinton Global Initiative just doled out $1 million to a group of students for an insect-farming project. Yum?