These are wondrous times. Transformation is cascading across society. While it may be unsettling how quickly our lives can change, it’s invigorating to step back and observe the process. It’s easy to take my iPhone for granted. Occasionally I rouse an appropriate awe. The information abundance at our fingertips at all times is truly astonishing. Could such magical devices, whose technology is only seven years old, really be spreading to an increasing percentage of humanity? What will that lead to next?
One of the signature manifestations of tech’s growing capability and affordability is a global increase in entrepreneurship. New companies are tackling old problems with surprising success in nearly every sector. Big incumbents are at an odd juncture–more productive and profitable than ever, yet at risk of irrelevance if they do not keep pace with ideas emerging from college dorm rooms. Three stories in this issue of Techonomy look at the growing corporate obsession with innovation.
Our magazine aims to underscore our optimism even as it highlights some of the challenges our company exists to address. We see technology as a lever for progress, and aim relentlessly to underscore how leaders might better use it. But no matter how grim and shrill the daily news, the irrefutable bigger-picture reality is that on balance, people almost everywhere are living better, longer, healthier lives.
We’re publishing to coincide with our annual flagship Techonomy 2014 conference. We report on the Techonomy Detroit and Techonomy Bio conferences earlier this year. Program director Simone Ross looks back at our five years of conferences. You’ll hear what Techonomy 2014 participants told us in advance. Other articles touch on the fraught intersection of tech innovation and government policy, the business of space, and the consumer-empowerment revolution in health care. We explain how we define a “techonomic” company. And we profile a TE14 speaker: an African inventor of high-tech prosthetics at the MIT Media Lab.
We’re not just interested in tech, and we don’t see it as disconnected from larger traditions and values. We believe in the importance of art and culture as much as technology. The combination invigorates us.