Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive

Top 10 Emerging Technologies of 2019

The Top 10 Emerging Technologies of 2019

Anne says: Tomorrow, Saturday 20 July, celebrates the Apollo 11 mission and man’s first steps on the moon. That technological achievement fundamentally changed the way we think about what’s possible. As a small child, I was bundled into the school hall and I remember watching in captivated silence, on a black and white TV, the luna landing and those steps. In awe, that became the most influential moment of my life. “If we can land a man on the moon, why can’t we…. (fill in the gap)”! 

When I read through this report from Scientific American about the top 10 emerging technologies of 2019, I looked at them through that lens. Which of these could have a major impact on human lives? I’ll let you select your game changer from the list. For me, this list illustrates a shift towards the design of technologies that have the potential to solve or are starting to work towards some of the big problems we’ll face over the next decade. 

Here’s a quick overview – in no particular order:

  1. Social robots 
  2. Tiny lenses for miniature optical designs 
  3. Inhibiting Intrinsically Disordered Proteins (IDPs) – these proteins are the cause of many cancers and neurodegenerative diseases. 
  4. Safer nuclear reactors 
  5. Utility scale energy storage for a renewable grid
  6. DNA data storage
  7. Advanced food tracking – saving lives and cutting waste
  8. Fertilizers that reduce environmental contamination
  9. Bioplastics to solve pollution problems
  10. Collaborative telepresence

And if you’re interested in following Apollo 11 – live – you have to use this website. Be inspired and remember, if we can land a man on the moon any of the 10 emerging technologies above can be possible!


Packaged Medical Tourism


Helen says: Techcrunch this week profiled a travel company that is tapping into a global market that presently exceeds $400 billion and is still rising.  Its focus is not on the conventional business or leisure traveller, it’s on medical tourism (somewhat of an oxymoron in my view). In a few clicks on US based, visitors can select single or multiple procedures from a list of over 300, view profiles, select a doctor and receive travel assistance to get you there and home again in one piece, hopefully, and if the procedure you want is not listed, you can request it online.

There are numerous reasons for the rise in medical tourism, but it is not without its risks. A key motivator is cost savings and in just a few searches I found savings of up 89% or US$25,000 (A Brazilian Butt Lift is expensive!). All jokes aside, in this global economy, streamlining a process that is otherwise daunting and giving people access to affordable surgery has a lot of merit. The demand is high and Doctours plan to expand their services to 35 countries, but I still struggle with the commodification of medical services.

On a lighter travel note, but still relevant to butts, this week I also came across what could be good news for economy travellers stuck in the middle seat. A simple seat design with the centre seat lowered by 5 cm and pushed back 7.5 cm could help quell the battle of the armrest and give passengers a bit more wiggle room. The FFA certified the design last month, a process that in itself is interesting, and the company has signed its first customer.


Pentagon to tell US Congress whether it used weaponised ticks on the public


Joel says: Ah, another week, another conspiracy that needs investigating. This one though is being taken a fair bit more seriously by the US Congress. After claims that Pentagon researchers infected insects with diseases with the end goal being to learn about the impact of biological weapons, The Pentagon has been ordered to tell US Congress whether it unleashed weaponised ticks on the public that may have caused the spread of Lyme disease.

The US government banned biological weapon research in 1969 but New Jersey Republican Christopher Smith believes research may have continued beyond that point prompting the request of an independent review to determine if Department of Defence conducted any experiments with ticks or other insects between 1950 and 1975. If so then they must provide Congress with a detailed report containing the extent of the Pentagon’s experiments as they specifically want to know if the insects used in the experiments were released outside of the lab, whether by accident or on purpose.

I found this piece to be interesting for a number of reasons, firstly I love a good conspiracy/ cover-up story and second it got me thinking about the experiments on an ethical level. It’s obvious that the US government and other agencies such as the FBI, CIA and Defense secretly work on things they intend the public to never know about, but with the government banning bio-weapon research it made me wonder what this investigation may dig up and whether the continued research (if there was any) was for developing potential new bio-weapons (as they wouldn’t be the first country to weaponise insects) or if they were testing the impact of a biological attack and working on ways to keep their country safe. I guess we won’t know for sure until the report is handed over but it’s certainly a story I plan to keep an eye on.


Generalise, don’t specialise: why focusing too narrowly is bad for us


Jakkii says: As someone who’s read plenty before about the 10,000 hours rule/myth and is a fan of sports, I found this a fascinating read. The author, David Epstein, has written a couple of books on the subject and this piece is a short adaptation from his latest book that explores the idea that generalising in sports at a young age actually helps performance, rather in contrast to the view that hyperspecialisation at a young age is the key to success in sports. The theory is that late specalisers who dabble in a range of sports when they are younger develop different abilities they can then draw upon in their chosen sport, as well as learning more about what they are good at, not good at, and what they most enjoy. 

And, much more interestingly to those not interested in sports in the least, he further suggests that this generalisation and late specialisation approach is good for us in our careers, as well. The article mentions startups and healthcare primarily, but I think it’s applicable quite broadly, even in areas in which we might not think of people as being “specialists” in the way we certainly do doctors. I think, in simple terms, it’s also a good correlation to the idea that entering a company through working in customer service is an excellent way to get to know the business – customer service teams in many businesses have a need to have broad-ranging knowledge (and a good understanding of how to source answers or connect people with problems to people with solutions). 

It’s a longer read, so settle in over your morning coffee or afternoon beer and give it a read.


This Week in Social Media

Politics, democracy and regulation

Privacy and data

Cybersecurity and safety

Society and culture

Extremism and hate speech

Moderation and misinformation

Marketing, advertising and PR


Facebook Libra & Calibra

In Conversation: Revisiting Uber, money and monkeys with Keith Chen


As part of our In Conversation series and the University of Sydney’s Business School Global Executive MBA program, we talk to UCLA economist Keith Chen who taught monkeys how to use money in order to better understand how humans make economic decisions.

Show notes and links for this episode:

University of Sydney’s Business School Global Executive MBA program

Keith Chen – UCLA

Keith Chen – Ted Talk

Thank you to (copyright 2018 BBC) for some of the additional sounds in this podcast.


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