I really question whether or not 3D printing or 3D printed parts will become as ubiquitous as people expect. Outside of a few industries, 3D printing has grown dramatically slower than analysts have expected due in large part to the ecosystem around 3D printing not expanding as rapidly as it should (particularly accessibility to 3D modeling software – the popular software packages still cost thousands of dollars to use).
Another key point to consider is that though no true machinery set-up time is required, there is a lot of time required to prove out models. Often models are not designed properly for the specifications of a particular printer or the the material fed to the machine. Furthermore there are some parts that are impossible or inefficient to manufacture through additive manufacturing processes. I worry that the risk of being the first mover in this space will be dangerous for UPS given that it is so far outside their core business.
Great post Evan! I think another interesting future direction Cognex could look into is using it’s vision technology for other applications. One example would be looking into vision for autonomous vehicles – Cognex cameras are incredibly good at reading precise details and it is not hard to imagine that this capability could be important in more scenarios than manufacturing lines as we look to a future where robots are all around us.
I have two concerns about Uber moving towards AVs:
1) This is an incredibly risky undertaking and I worry that by trying to be “first to market” in the AV space, Uber opens itself up to a wide array of public perception and regulatory risks. AVs are still very much an emerging technology and the sensor technology is still not where it needs to be for cars to be operating safely on the road, especially when interacting with other human drivers.
2) I echo Bastiane’s concern above. Much of the positive benefit Uber has provided revolves around the fact that it creates many jobs. This transition will eliminate countless jobs which I think has serious potential to hurt Uber’s brand image, a brand image which is already struggling in many parts of the country and the world.
I’m with Jesse that I think data privacy rights will become a huge issue in the next few years. At this point in time, people seem to place a very low value on their own data but as more and more information is collected and as the government and private industry develop the capabilities to actually process and act on that data, I suspect individuals will become more protective of their privacy.
It is particularly concerning to me to see large data companies such as Palantir and Google be so tightly aligned with the government. I worry that these companies do not have the checks and controls in place to protect individuals and will begin to act solely in their own interests and the governments. I think we will continue to see conflict of interest issues emerge in the coming years (such as Peter Thiel speaking at the RNC) that begin to encourage individuals to recognize the risk of not controlling data privacy.
One concern I have about electric vehicles is their dependance on the existing energy grid. Tesla vehicles are charged from home charging stations or public charging stations which are powered (in most cases) by the existing utility electric grid. In most parts of the country, over 50% of electricity provided to the grid is still sourced from coal or gas, which are not clean, renewable energy sources. Tesla is definitely a step in the right direction, but we need to pay more attention to cleaning the grid. Musk is headed in the right way with the current solar initiatives he is driving through Solar City.
It will be interesting to see how the major players in the beer industry adapt to climate change – in particular Anheuser Busch and Miller Coors. These companies operate massive facilities and use incredible amounts of water and energy (not only for production but for worldwide distribution as well). I hope these companies are learning from the willingness of smaller companies like New Belgium to make capital investments and engage in other initiatives that promote sustainable business practices, as I think that the bigger companies have the potential to drive industry technology down more sustainable paths.
In the near term I think there are also opportunities for ski resorts to mitigate some of the energy and water use associated with snowmaking. Whistler recently opened a hydro-electric power facility that provides enough electricity to power all of Whistler’s operations (including 300 snow guns, 38 ski lifts, and 17 restaurants). Whistler also maintains its own water reservoirs on the mountain.
Long term I definitely agree that the future looks rather grim for the ski industry.
The introduction of new wine varieties is interesting to me. I wonder if there are also opportunities to engineer more resilient seeds (or use micro-biomes like we learned about in class) to produce grapes more susceptible to rising temperatures and have a decreased need for water.
That said, I agree with Pablo that it is important for vineyards to take a hard look at their own sustainability practices and ensure they are managing their own level of impact. Cork is a great example – the use of pesticides may be another similar issue for the vineyard to consider.
There is actually a really interesting blog post from AWS about this topic where they compute the positive environmental effects of using AWS over a company using its own data centers. I unfortunately did not have the word count to incorporate this info into my blog post, but I liked it below if you are interested.
“On average, AWS customers use 77% fewer servers, 84% less power, and utilize a 28% cleaner power mix, for a total reduction in carbon emissions of 88% from using the AWS Cloud instead of operating their own data centers.”
I’d be curious to hear your perspective on how much you think carbon neutral data centers matter to cloud customers. Going carbon neutral is obviously a good decision for the environment and to some extent is valuable as a cost savings avenue – but beyond that, will customers actually care about how “clean” their data is? If customers don’t care, is there still incentive for companies to push sustainability beyond the point where cost savings become marginal?