Vigilant concern is not the opposite or enemy of optimism.
I’m excited and optimistic about many technological advances. Not just next-gen tools to assist us beyond our physical limits, computing at greater volume or velocity, adding new ways to communicate, or the like. Though those have positives. But in important gap-leaping even profound ways that help people and society: eradicating disease, curing the sick or restoring functionality to the handicapped, enabling people to learn, grow, improve daily experience, facilitating meaningful contributions from creative minds who might otherwise have languished in desperate circumstances.
But too many emerging technologies, even those with exhilarating positive potential, are being developed and applied at scale prematurely and without sufficient appreciation for unintended consequences. Or others—especially but not only those focused on trying to emulate or replicate human thought and are intended to intervene in human affairs without human supervision or involvement—are introduced with wickedly inadequate understanding of the human mind or the psycho-social implications.
So I’m responding to your prompt from the side of cautious optimism and with a call to action: to pay attention, be deeply thoughtful, and not to be seduced by how exciting certain possibilities seem.
Renewable energy! Our house is all in with solar panels, an EV, and an energy monitoring system - I'm excited for the tech to improve to full automation: e.g. run my dryer when my solar is producing excess energy, or charge my EV when the grid is at it's lowest carbon intensity, etc.
In my job I'm most excited to use tools like ChatGPT to assist in writing copy for blogs and websites and helping with keyword use for SEO-optimization. I don't see this tech as replacing workers, only enhancing - if you're not using these tools you will fall behind.
Malaria vaccine for sure. As long as it can be broadly distributed to those who need it most in the third world.
Where does your optimism for mRNA vaccines come from? In 1976 the swine flu vaccine had 1 serious adverse event per 100000 and the it was taken off the market. The rotavirus vaccine in 1999 had 1-2 serious events per 10000 vaccines and it was pulled from the market. The Covid mRNA vaccines have 1 serious adverse event per 800 vaccines and it is promoted. I’m double vaccinated because I believed in the technology. The data that has been coming out for almost a year now has shown the exact opposite for safety and efficacy...
Of the 3 mentioned in the article: renewable energy. I’m particularly intrigued by the large scale experiments with hydrogen trains in countries like Germany and the UK, and especially in India and China--countries that have historically registered global coordination efforts to combat climate change because of their economic development needs and now have a real opportunity to leapfrog. -- One not mentioned: increasing movement to interoperability and API driven software architecture, and away from silos and silver bullets. The resulting information and innovation liquidity stands to accelerate a whole raft of economic and societal sectors.