Why CA’s going to thrive: nanotech, biotech and, in particular, Google

Why CA’s going to thrive: nanotech, biotech and, in particular, Google

I will always remember 2013 as the year that I became a downright-giddy optimist about California’s future. Regardless of the massive incompetence and (mostly legal) corruption of its government leaders, the Golden State is going to be saved by its extraordinary tech entrepreneurs and scientific geniuses. California is poised to lead the world in nanotechnology and biotechnology, which have already transformed many industries and will soon do the same to many more.

Then there are the iconic California companies. I think 2013 is also the year where Mountain View-based Google became way more interesting and future-shaping than Cupertino-based Apple. While the company may get the most headlines for its forays into personal technology — making the cheapest good and the cheapest very good smartphones, the first individually customizable smartphone, and, of course, Google Glass — it is on a roll in so many other ways as well.

Consider two stories that came out on Friday alone. Both are jaw-dropping in their implications.

googleworldThe New York Times had “Google’s Road Map to Global Domination,” on how Google had spent vast sums to map the planet in a way that will help dozens more of its ventures, especially self-driving cars — which will soon mean people have the equivalent of personal limo drivers, which will change lots of industries and life as we know it.

Computerwold had “Freaky future of OK Google: Ceiling microphones and brain microchips coming by 2018?” It detailed how the Android operating system’s rapidly explanding and improving “OK Google” voice-command feature heralded the imminent arrival of computer personal assistants. A Google engineer says, “Google believes it can ultimately fulfill people’s data needs by sending results directly to microchips implanted into its user’s brains. If you think hard enough about certain words they can be picked up by sensors fairly easily.” This will also change lots of industries and life as we know it.

These aren’t just enormously exciting sci-fi-seeming possibilities. They’re likely to be enormously lucrative! And as a Californian, I’m very happy that the company pursuing them has deep California roots.

May Google employees’ capital gains keep California government afloat for decades to come. And if we have to turn San Francisco into the equivalent of Google’s dorm, that’s a fair price to pay.

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