I might be controversial here but I really think that we have become sidetracked with expectations that new technologies are about to be discovered just around the corner. We actually have so many new technologies lying around waiting to be applied. All we really need is sufficient awareness of both the technologies and the potential markets. Therefore, my response to this question lies in our ability to educate young people to spot these opportunities sooner. The best way to do that is to encourage perception skills like listening and collaboration, capabilities that university education undermines significantly in my opinion.
I think you’re asking about the knowledge an industry relies on. It reminds me of my research on engineers’ knowledge, something that amazed me in its complexity once I began systematically interviewing hundreds of engineers, something I had never really thought about while working as an engineer. We take knowledge so easily for granted. So much of it is embodied in the artefacts that surround us. The French philosopher Bruno Latour pointed out how much knowledge is embodied in the structure and layout of a supermarket, knowledge that only a knowledgeable person can recognise, let alone retrieve.
As an engineer, I wish I had the insights that emerged from my research on what engineers really do. Engineers persuade people to implement their ideas with money from other people, and do their best to detect and sort out the confusion resulting from inevitable misunderstandings. They mostly work without formal authority, and often with minimal understanding on how to practically implement their ideas. It’s a thrilling experience when the results come somewhere near matching expectations.
Four factors are driving personal air-conditioning.
Climates are warming.
Summer temperatures in cities are rising even faster.
Productivity growth has almost stopped. We’re not going to see new buildings popping up everywhere. Most of us will be living in the buildings we see today.
Electricity to run air-conditioners at night will be more expensive when the sun doesn’t shine.
Only a tiny minority living in hot climates can afford traditional air-conditioning.
Personal air-conditioning is energy-efficient, sustainable and affordable. Everyone can enjoy comfort while sleeping and working, without altering existing buildings.
Why would I not be optimistic!