We are a nation of innovators. Give us a challenge and we’ll send a man to the Moon.
And, by the way, we’ll also bring him—or her—back safely. Which proves we’re also a nation of innovative problem solvers.
Think of the concerns that emerged when trains, planes, and automobiles were first introduced. And think of solutions and safeguards, such as speed limits and air traffic control systems, that were put in place making it possible for these technologies to become part of our everyday lives.
A new era of innovation
We’re now facing a new wave of innovation. New technologies are coming at us at an unprecedented speed. Drones, driverless cars, Artificial Intelligence (AI), just to name a few, have the potential to make a dramatic impact on our economy and our society. If implemented quickly and safely, they can ensure our nation’s continued place at the head of world innovation.
But, as new technologies naturally do, they raise valid concerns about safety, ethics, and privacy. These concerns are legitimate, and we must address them just like we have in the past. Only faster.
The key is for engineers, developers, entrepreneurs, regulators, and others to work together at what I call “the speed of change” (or, in this case, “at the speed of innovation”) so we don’t slow down implementation and lose competitive advantage in the process.
And, of course, so that we as a society can begin to reap the benefits quickly.
UPS proved it can be done when earlier this month it announced it had received Federal Aviation Approval (FAA) to become the first company certified to fly an unlimited number of drones with an unlimited number of operators.
Here’s a perfect example of a new technology, drones, that had generated a lot of safety concerns. But, with tight collaboration with all its constituents, UPS has been able to address those concerns and receive government approval to use drone technology for commercial purposes.
What I find even more exciting is that UPS has come up with a way to integrate drone technology into its existing technological platform. The drone does not replace the UPS driver; it only makes him or her more efficient.
We need more success stories
The UPS story is an example of how we need to move technologies forward so we can reap the benefits while addressing the concerns.
We need more of these examples in autonomous vehicles, in AI, in all the nascent technologies that innovators are fast and furiously coming up with in their labs.
Now more than ever, we need to have inventors, business leaders, entrepreneurs, regulators, political leaders, and other concerned groups working closely together to address issues safely and come up with solutions quickly, thus avoiding unnecessary delays of what the technology can do for us all.
Innovate we must
There is no question we are a nation of innovators.
The new crop of technologies prove we have the technical and entrepreneurial accumen to keep our nation in the forefront of technical innovation.
It is now time for the next step: collaboration at the speed of change to solve the initial concerns and turn the innovators’ dreams into reality.
Our future competitive position in the world rests on how quicly we can come together to address these concerns so we can bring innovation to our everyday lives in a way that makes us feel good about the way they impact our people, our economy, and our planet.