Innovation Monitor: Thanksgiving Top Ten 2021

Innovation Monitor: Thanksgiving Top Ten 2021

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Welcome to this week’s Innovation Monitor.

It’s Thanksgiving weekend and I hope you’re having a delicious, thankful, cheerful holiday! As we enter the last month of a(nother) year of challenges and resilience, we’re selecting and highlighting our ten favorite Innovation Monitor editions from 2021.

We’ve covered many topics this year. From NFTs and soft robotics, FLoCs and lasers, brain computer interfaces and the space race, the breadth and depth of applied innovation is vast and endless. Perhaps one of these topics will pique your interest (again!) this weekend.

We’re also considering the pace and patterns of innovation and their adoption. How has this once in a century pandemic reflected or challenged Gartner’s Hype Cycle, and Everett Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations graph? Here’s a visualization of both:

Thank you for reading. As always, if you were forwarded this email, you can easily sign up here

All best,
Erica Matsumoto 1. NFTs & Fandom: The Impact of NFTs on Media, Sports, Fashion & Art
March 5, 2021
This week, we explain the impact NFTs could have on media, fashion, sports, art, and fandom more broadly. We also go deeper into why NFTs are beneficial for both buyers and sellers. below visual reference charts the various applications of AI and their respective scale and adoption. 2. FLoCs and a Cookieless Future April 16, 2021
This week, we dive into FLoC and IDFA, another system that tries to balance consumer privacy with targeted advertising. We explain how FLoC works, talk about the pros and cons of the method, and how both FLoC and IDFA will affect the ad landscape and everyone on the sidelines in the years to come.
3. The World of Soft Robotics — Flexible, Bendable Tech that’s kind of like an octopus April 2, 2021
This week, we cover Soft Robotics, an emerging field that aims to create safer, more flexible, and more adaptable robots that are “able to face unexpected situations in the real world”. We explore how soft robots work, how they are made, and how they are used.
4. Brain-Computer Interfaces and the future of Neurorights July 16, 2021
This week, we continue the conversation about BCI (brain-computer interface) technology we first covered in 2020 as there have been significant advances in the field. One example is of a paralyzed man using BCI to have the words he thinks appear on a computer screen. We also dive into the neurorights space, where academics, industry, and policymakers raise the need for regulation around this mind-reading neurotechnology.
5. Facebook and the Research Ecosystem August 20, 2021
Facebook suspended the accounts of two NYU researchers behind the Ad Observer extension, Laura Edelson and Damon McCoy. To many, this attempt to suppress open research reflects the social media platform’s sense of impunity. This week, we dive into what happened, what the internal rationale was, and if this is just an instance of history repeating itself. Questions raised include what good faith is, what self-regulation is, and what protecting oneself as a company looks like. These topics are important to explore as we work to better understand the widespread problem of disinformation on digital platforms. 6. A Laser is a Solution Seeking a Problem May 21, 2021
Lasers (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) power much of the information age’s technology, such as high-speed internet, telescopes, autonomous vehicles, eye surgery, and weather prediction. This week, we dive into the invention of the laser, including its inventor and the race to become the first to make it a reality, even as it was initially thought to be fundamentally or practically impossible to create. 7. Nature Inspired Tech August 13, 2021
This week, we look into how technology will work alongside biology in the coming decades. New wind and solar plants offered cheaper electricity than existing gas and coal plants. BCG’s report, “Nature Co-Design: A Revolution in the Making” predicts the next industrial revolution “obviates the need for energy-intensive processing of raw materials and builds solutions under atmospheric pressure conditions and in relatively low temperature environments instead”, working with nature at the nano level. 8. The Business of TikTok October 1, 2021
This week, we consider TikTok’s business model and dissect its business priorities. In five short years, TikTok has reached over 1 billion MAUs (monthly active users), while Facebook has reached 2.89 billion MAUs and the world population is 7.8 billion people. TikTok is undeniably part of our global social media ecosystem. So what is TikTok’s business model? What are TikTok’s priorities? And how does TikTok make its $34 billion? 9. El Salvador’s Crypto Experiment October 15, 2021
This week, we explore a story how in 2019, a team of volunteers in El Zonte, El Salvador began transforming the economy to run on cryptocurrency. Workers now receive their salaries and pay bills in Bitcoin, tourists can buy items with a special Bitcoin payment app, and community projects are financed with Bitcoin donations. This year, El Salvador as a whole has launched a cryptocurrency-as-a-national-currency initiative. We explain this initiative and explore what this may mean for the future of money. 10. The New Space Race is Here July 9, 2021
This week, we explore the implications of the space race (between companies and between countries) that will undoubtedly shape the next century across the political and business spectrums. Space opens up new channels of innovation and commerce. In 2021, with reduced launch costs, public interest, private funding, and new rocket technology, the industry is at an inflection point. This Week in Innovation History

November 21, 1969: The Internet…is Born

A little less than a month after the first test message was sent, the first permanent link on the ARPANet is established between UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute. As the ARPANet was the foundation of the modern Internet, this connection can now be considered the very first link of what we now know as the Internet.

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