Where Will Growth Come From ?

I got into (yet another) one of those useless, interesting, unprovable debates on exactly where growth is go to come from.

My colleague sees no US job growth in the near or distant future, much more pessimistic than I. My view is that there are several fields that are potentially big growers, but their best years were not near term.

It would be a good few years before we enjoyed another Cambrian explosion like we did in the 1990s. Recall the full build out of cellular, PCs, semiconductors, software, CPUs (286/386/486) — the explosion of internet websites, and data storage. These were enormous job creators.

Now? I can name 10 niches, most of which have future growth potential, but few that can expand into something truly substantial, rising to the size of any of the giant sectors above.

My top 10 list (in order of biggest near term potential):

1. Nano Technology (Think of the line “Plastics” in The Graduate).

2. Green (low carbon) Energy  (generation)

3. Battery technology  (storage)

4. Genomics/Stem Cell Research

5. Web 2.0/3.0 — smaller, niche companies using increased bandwidth

6. Robotics — the continued replacement of humans by machine, for both labor and judgement

7. Life extension Technologies (not disease cures, but actual extension technology)

8. Bio-Agriculture (GMF, etc.)  Feeding 15 billion people will require some technological breakthroughs.

9. Atmospheric Engineering — modifying Earth’s biosphere to keep it hospitable to Humans in the face of an ice age or global warming;

10. Terra forming/Extra Planetary Colonization (uh-oh, time to go)

You will note that as you work your way down the list, these rapidly becoming highly specialized niches — not broad sectors like internet or semiconductors.


Where do you think the growth is going to come from over the next few decades?

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