Q&A with Michael

0 | By Michael A. Robinson

I’m writing today to thank you for helping to make Era of Radical Change so successful.

We launched just four months ago, and already, some 72,000 people are taking part.

As a group, you readers are smart and savvy. You ask probing questions about high-tech breakthroughs and offer a wide range of insights from your own lives. So far columns have drawn hundreds of comments from readers like you, and I have to say, I’m impressed with the quality of these responses.

I don’t have time to respond to every post, but I do read everything you write, whether on our website or by email. And I do want to let you know where I stand on some of these key issues you’re bringing up.

With that in mind, I’d like to devote today’s column to acknowledge the great reader feedback I’ve received. So, that’s what I’m doing today, and I plan to use this format a few times each year to keep in contact with the great, solid community that is developing here.

Now then, before I take a look at some specific reader comments, I’d like to address an item that’s come up several times in the last few weeks.

Many readers have written to my publisher, Money Map Press, asking for permission to run all or a portion of my columns. They would like to either post these pieces to their blogs or to their Facebook pages.

My broad answer is yes, you can forward these emails to friends and family. You also can post all or portions of what I’ve written to your blogs, as well as sending links via your Twitter account. In fact, I encourage you to. All I ask is that you credit the comments to me and/or the Era of Radical Change.

I founded this service to help average investors make sense of the huge pace of change that is disrupting our lives. The more we understand about these big trends and the impact they will have on the world around us, the better our odds are of profiting from them.

So if you know someone who could benefit from these insights, please feel free to share this information with them. Based on the high quality of reader feedback I’ve gotten, my gut tells me folks in your social network will really enjoy knowing more about the Era of Radical Change. I hope we can all help each other find the best ways to profit from all these profoundly important new technologies.

Okay, let’s get started with a great comment from Joe E. regarding my recent chat with high-tech visionary Vivek Wadhwa about our bionic future:

Q: Bionics? I am 56 years old. Will I live to see the day when technology will allow us to live forever? With so many people, we will have no choice but to build colonies on other planets. I’m ready to move to Mars if I had more time. But I think that wars between planets would be inevitable, judging by man’s violent history, so maybe I should just be content to know that I may be one of the last (of the lucky ones) to taste death. ~ Joe E.

A: Joe, I don’t believe we will see the day when humans live “forever.” But I do believe we will live much longer than we do today. Life spans well in excess of 100 will become common.

We’re on the verge of taming – if not outright curing – a wide range of killer diseases, like cancer. At the same time, we’re learning much more about how our genes affect every facet of our lives, including our health and longevity.

As for wars between planets, space-based weaponry will become a reality. It’s up to us and our leaders to act in the best interest of the planet and the universe at large. And I think we will. Remember, we have thousands of atom bombs here on earth and have used them in war only twice.

My related piece on how bionic eyes will help cure blindness drew a tech-related question from another reader:

Q: Amazing news you gave to us. Thank you. Does science have anything on the horizon that will improve our hearing? Those with a nerve ending loss in regards to hearing do not have many choices besides hearing aids right now. ~ Pat H.

A: Pat, I’m glad you asked this question. Turns out there was a breakthrough in this area back in May that you should know about.

Many of you may have already heard about cochlear implants. These are small but complex electronic devices that can give a sense of sound to deaf people. More than 220,000 people around the world now use them. The implant consists of an external portion that sits behind the ear and a second portion that is implanted under the skin.

Problem is, they are big and bulky by today’s new digital standards, where everything is getting very small.

But now a team from University of Utah and Case Western Reserve University has made a system that is much smaller and fits in the middle ear. The new microphone requires surgery, and users will have to wear a battery charger at night. However, the prototype so far shows a big improvement over the standard cochlear implants. It’s much smaller, puts the external parts inside the body, and is more sensitive to a wider range of sounds.

You can hear it for yourself. The team recorded the start of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. To hear the standard version, click here. To hear how it would sound with the new implant, click here.

Now here’s Billy W.’s question about a cancer breakthrough from a hot biotech startup last April:

Q: Isn’t there a way to force the FDA to perform their functions quicker? Also, why not issue patents quicker in the approval process so the company developing the treatment is provided protection while at the same time revealing the treatment to the public? ~ Billy W.

A: Let me focus on the FDA. No doubt, many in the private sector and in Congress want the agency to move more quickly. We have hundreds of products awaiting approvals, either for testing, or for final release.

But I don’t expect to see an increase in getting products out more quickly any time soon for several reasons.

  • First, ObamaCare mandates new taxes on medical devices. Those will have to work their way through the system, which will take time and work to set up.
  • Second, in the last two or three years, the FDA has announced the recall of several medical devices. It is the nature of every bureaucracy to slow down and examine its track record before moving forward.
  • Finally, the FDA is a cautious animal by nature. It lives in fear of patient deaths that could cause a media firestorm. Yet the agency knows there is no such thing as a drug that is 100% safe and effective. At this point, the FDA can’t keep up with today’s rapid pace of change.

Next up, back in late April, I wrote about how nanogold particles will help transform medicine. Tom S. had this to say:

Q: Very interesting article. This certainly discredits Warren Buffett’s primary criticism of gold “being something useless, with no function.” Fortunately I am heavily invested in gold, and appreciate your article. ~ Tom S.

A: Tom, anyone who thinks gold has no use value is badly misinformed.

Gold works great in all manner of electronics. I believe its importance will only grow as digital devices get ever smaller. It also will serve as a key lubricant in what I call the “New Space Race;” it works great in zero gravity and will play a role in our exploration of other planets.

As for nanogold, that means the metal will find its way into visual display tech, such as touch-sensitive screens. It also has the potential to improve storage systems for digital data such as advanced flash memory devices.

Finally, on July 13, I wrote about how doctors will use sugar to power brain implants. Richard C. had this to say:

Q: It won’t be long before you could get an implant for healthy people that would augment our mental or physical abilities!… If it already hasn’t been done. ~ Richard C.

A: Right now, we’re not using brain implants to make us smarter. But I believe we will, in fact, do so in as little as a decade. We are headed toward a fusion of man and machine.

I do believe that we will use this type of hardware to improve our IQs. This will no doubt come in part with the type of neural implants I talked about. But in the long term, I believe we will inject self-assembling nanobots that will create new neural networks that run in combination with our natural biological brains.

And we’ll be there to profit.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *