TradeBriefs Editorial From the Editor's Desk

Vanguard's Chief Economist highlights the 4 areas that will see the most advancement in the next 5 years
Joe Davis (chief economist at Vanguard) has an interesting research metric to predict which areas will see the most innovation in the future. His team's "Ideas Multiplier" metric tracks over 2 million records of research (academic, medical, etc) and finds the ratio of good ideas spawned from an original idea, over time. During the 1990s (just before the internet really took off), it was at 200:1 in the area of computer technology. At other times, it has averaged 40:1 in most areas.
Today, it is at over 400:1 in 4 different areas - Material Sciences, Oncology (Cancer Research), Agriculture and Genome Research. Interestingly, AI is not on the list because AI is a general purpose technology that cuts across all areas and has even helped the above areas peak. The excitement in research in these four areas indicates some breakthrough applications coming up in probably a 4-5 year timeframe. In Material Sciences, think ultra-thin skyscrapers possible because of new materials used in columns. In Agriculture, think special-purpose seeds that can help crops withstand floods. Cancer and Genome Research are progressing a lot faster today than before, with possible applications in 5 years.

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