Innovation Day addresses life in 2050
Binghamton’s fourth-annual Innovation Day, which focused on Innovation for the 21st and a Half Century, challenged participants to think more deeply about the future of topics ranging from climate change to shopping.
Kevin Maney, a Newsweek columnist who began his journalism career at the Press & Sun-Bulletin in Binghamton, delivered the keynote: “Anticipating the Future … Just Enough.” He explored life in 2050 through four key areas: cars, clothes, baseball and jobs.
Maney, who presented an essentially optimistic view of mid-century life, expects that technology will improve the experience of shopping for clothes. Eventually, he said, online shopping will evolve to a point where there can be something like Pandora radio for clothes. Data will enable companies to predict what you will like and what will fit you.
Maney predicted that a car will eventually be something you subscribe to rather than something you own. Self-driving cars will reduce accidents and congestion, too, he said.
“There’s going to become an interesting moment in time when the car becomes like the horse,” he said with a smile. “Driving a car is going to be something that rich people do on weekends.”
Plenary speaker Mathias Vuille, associate professor of atmospheric and environmental sciences at the University of Albany, talked about climate change as a driver of innovation. He also spoke about innovation as a way of addressing challenges presented by climate change.
The carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today isn’t what we emitted yesterday, Vuille noted. It’s what our fathers and grandfathers emitted. “If we were to stop emitting CO2 today,” he said, “our atmosphere would keep warming.”
The United States has begun to reduce emissions. Still, Vuille noted, Americans emit more than twice as much CO2 as a person in Europe or China. He sees a need for additional innovation and investment.
“When you litter, and you get caught, you have to pay a fine. … But nobody’s paying a fine for the trash we’re putting into the atmosphere,” Vuille said. “Or so we think. Somebody will eventually pay a price for it.”
Innovation Day, organized by the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Partnerships, drew nearly 200 people from campus and beyond. In addition to the lectures, the April 24 event included panels organized by Binghamton faculty members participating in the Transdisciplinary Areas of Excellence and two panels on education.