“It’s a bit silly for society to throw a little bit of money at (graphene) and expect it to change the world”

A nice quote by Sir Andre Geim, Nobel Prize winning co-discoverer of graphene in this morning’s Times headlined “Twitter is no substitute for proper science, laments Nobel laureate.” However, Sir Andre said that he had been “bemused” by the clamour to exploit graphene. “I’m not interested in going into industry or property development or creating ‘graphene valley’ as the Government would …

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How Materials, Not IT, Are Disrupting The Construction Industry

We’ve been having some lively debate about whether there are any more industries for IT to disrupt – after all there are only a limited number of things you can do online. The counter argument is that boundaries between the virtual and real worlds are blurring, and that as this happens IT will become ever more pervasive. But a recent …

Technology – so much more than social media!

Discussing “emerging technologies” is always a challenge as it means different things to different people. We had a go at defining it a few years ago, and Jason Pontin at MIT Technology Review justifies their shift from “emerging” to using the phrase “breakthrough technologies” in this month’s edition. Is this equally meaningless? The real problem is the word “technology” which …

Troubleshooting Emerging Technology Companies

One of the problems of being asked for advice is that the recipients don’t always like what they are told. This was memorably illustrated by one of the first ever reality TV shows, Troubleshooter, featuring former ICI chairman Sir John Harvey Jones. Never afraid to give blunt advice, Harvey-Jones’ solutions to struggling businesses ranged from developing  turn around plans to …

Top Ten Emerging Technologies 2013 from the World Economic Forum

Every year I sit down with my colleagues on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies (WEF GAC-ET for short!!!!) and have a spirited discussion about what the top ten emerging technologies in the world will be. Here then, in no particular order, is our annual expert view (or as a slideshow at the Washington Post) on what …

The Future of Nanotechnology – From A Molecular Point of View

An interesting interview with Christine Peterson at the Foresight Institute. For those unfamiliar with Foresight, they were early proponents of nanotechnologies, but following Eric Drexler’s Nanosystems vision of small machines getting ever smaller and ignoring the laws of physics. As a result they got into all kinds of pointless fights with people from Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley to Dexter Johnson, …

It’s Snowing Graphene

  I woke up this morning to find graphene was ubiquitous, even displacing snow as the main topic of conversation. I’m getting emails from sports stores and even the BBC breakfast news was full of it, although tempering the hype with the question ‘Is graphene really a wonder-material?’ before concluding “The miracle material will soak up a lot of money …

Good and Bad News About Global Risks

The World Economic Forum publishes its Global Risks Report 2013 today, and my opinion is buried in there somewhere among the other thousand experts. It’s always a fascinating document, although it is a survey of opinion, hence nanotechnology being defined as a high likelihood high impact risk eight years ago! That said, the first paragraph of the report flags carbon nanotubes …