Credit to James for the question. Updated 24 May 2019 to include bio-hacking. Updated 10 June 2019 to add the last sentence to #4.
Which group of close-knit people are working on the weird ideas and technology that everyone else is ignoring? Here are a few ideas today that come to mind:
- 3D printing. This was all the rage a few years ago, as is with any trend that comes and goes. The majority may have given up or lost interest in 3D printing because they only saw the short-term possibility of printing with plastic, and were not patient enough for the long-game where 3D printing would touch metals, real-estate construction, and medicine. There are companies already working on 3D printing in each of those fields. (See Desktop Metal)
- Private cities. The larger goal of private cities is generating economic activity in a place that needs it, and improving processes that local governments have ignored or failed to adopt in a technology-driven, changing world. Building a city is really difficult and expensive, which is probably why not many people are trying to build them. (See the Center for Innovative Governance Research)
- BCIs for prosthetics. When a lot of people hear BCIs, they think of controlling things with their mind. While that’s true to some extent, I’m more interested in how much better prosthetics are going to get because of BCIs. By understanding how the electrical signals between the brain and the muscle work, a BCI company can start building and selling the technology that makes for more functional limbs and improves the lives of millions of people. (See CTRL-Labs)
- True bio-hacking. Progress in medical care and medical devices for patients will change with the abundance of programmers (see hacking insulin pumps and CPAP machines). Med-tech and pharma companies that are too slow for what patients and consumers need will get buried by programmers who are motivated enough to build and hack existing hardware in order to survive. This will branch out to experimentation with actual human bodies to delay mortality and treat death as an enemy. (I don’t believe that humans will become immortal, but I’m still more than happy to befriend you if you do 🙂 )
I’m hoping for a revival of labs à la Alfred Lee Loomis and the revival of gentlemen scientists. I’d love to hear your answers to this question, and if you’re working on any of the above, please reach out!