“Land was the raw material of the agricultural age, iron was the raw material of the industrial age, and data’s the raw material of the information age.”
This quote comes from Alec Ross, best-selling author of The Industries of the Future, a Senior Fellow at Johns Hopkins University, and a former senior official in the Obama administration at the U.S. Department of State. Alec was a guest speaker at the Carey Private Equity and Venture Club on September 18, 2017, and he shared his insights on the industries that would play a key role in the economy in the future.
Alec highlighted the pioneering work of Dr. Bert Vogelstein, co-director of the Ludwig Center at the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, in the field of cancer genomics and how he led the field of detecting specific biomarkers for cancer now called “liquid biopsies.” A liquid biopsy enables doctors to discover a range of information about a tumor through a simple blood sample. This is in contrast to a surgical biopsy, which is invasive and more costly. Liquid biopsies can identify some of the deadliest cancers in their early stages, giving doctors the chance to treat the diseases long before serious symptoms appear. As the technology develops, the cost for a liquid biopsy could significantly drop to thousands or hundreds of dollars, a price tag more accessible to the public (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Cost per genome
Skills For the Future
To tackle the industries of the future, Alec advises students to acquire skills and experience from interdisciplinary fields and combine domain expertise with humanities. Alec is a strong advocate of the importance of lifelong learning and interdisciplinary learning as the world becomes globally interconnected. “The ones to succeed are not the ones that are the strongest or most intelligent,” remarked Alec, “but the ones who are most adaptable to change and able to work anywhere on the chessboard of 195 countries.”
Are you that person?