The newsmakers who regularly fill Technology Review’s magazine and Web pages – and hundreds of the entrepreneurs and executives who follow their achievements – will gather this week at the company’s fifth annual Emerging Technologies Conference, set to begin on Wednesday, September 28 on MIT’s campus.
The meeting will be an opportunity for leaders in information technology, biotechnology, and nanotechnology to share their thoughts publicly – ideas that Technology Review has chronicled over the past year, from the advent of seamless mobile computing to the potential comeback of nuclear power. Presenters and panelists will also delve into the innovation process, taking the pulse of investing opportunities and the U.S. engineering profession.
More than fifty speakers will be attending the two-day event, including Palm co-founder Jeff Hawkins, Sun Microsystems founder Bill Joy, Segway inventor Dean Kamen, famed inventor and visionary Ray Kurzweil, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, and Motorola CEO Ed Zander.
“There are lots of technology conferences. But even if ETC were not our own, I would still love it,” says Jason Pontin, Technology Review’s editor in chief and publisher, who will open the conference on Wednesday. “I love it for its unembarrassed geekiness, for the interest and celebrity of its speakers and attendees, and, most of all, for its mission: to debate the meaning and impact of the most important new technologies.”
Running through the conference is a socio-economic theme: globalization and the need to help developing nations equip themselves with the technologies they need to compete. Nicholas Negroponte, founding chairman of the MIT Media Lab, gives the first keynote talk, which will focus on the Lab’s $100 Laptop Project, an effort to identify designs, components, and manufacturing techniques cheap enough to produce hundreds of thousands (and eventually millions) of laptop computers for children in poor countries.
The philosophy behind this ambitious project is that computers are not unlike pencils – tools to aid in the thinking process – and therefore every child deserves his or her own.
“Whatever big problem you can imagine, from world peace to the environment to hunger to poverty, the solution always includes education,” Negroponte told Technology Review in August. “We need to depend more on peer-to-peer and self-driven learning. The laptop is one important means of doing that.”