Hyperconnectivity is the inevitable consequence of the key developments of the past 25 years: the Internet, mobile technology, social networks, and the Internet of Things. Decision cycles that used to be measured in months now take mere hours. As a consequence, the ties between organizations are stronger than ever, and boundaries begin to blur as they share data, infrastructure, and even personnel with their suppliers and with their customers.
Amazon has leveraged its customer network to drive all other major booksellers out of existence; iTunes killed the music stores; Netflix closed Blockbuster. Airbnb now offers more rooms than the largest hotel chains. A New York taxi medallion is now worth only one-fourth the value it had before Uber came to town.
Moore’s law is slowing down, but bandwidth and interconnectivity are still riding an upward exponential curve. Unfortunately, the cognitive load increases as well, and time neither dilates nor expands at the human level. This hyperconnectness is new to human history. The failure to adapt to it is one of the biggest risks that organizations face. We’ll focus on the networks that join us and the consequences of hyperconnectedness, both good and bad, for commerce and security.
The April 11 field trip will be a two-part affair, featuring science and engineering of tomorrow in buildings of yesteryear—a former candy factory, in one case, and a repurposed naval warehouse, in the other.
MIT's Plasma Science Fusion Center
Dennis Whyte and his team of fusion researchers will provide a tour of the Center’s tokomak reactor, the materials and magnetic field required to contain the plasma, the control room where scientists oversee experiments, and research labs devising new targets and beam formations. We will also learn about Whyte’s vision for the future of fusion research in which bigger (i.e., ITER) is not necessarily better for reaching the goal of energy-positive fusion.
Through genetic modification and considerable automation, the “organism foundry” uses a design–build–test model for nurturing yeast and microbes to produce desired natural products. We’ll tour the firm’s second-generation lab (and peek into the still-under-construction third-gen lab) to see (1) how they choose optimal enzymes—and their associated genes—to design into their bespoke organisms, (2) the automation of sequencing, pipetting, liquid transfer, and associated components of the build operation, and (3) the testing operation that confirms the production of desired natural products along with the bank of mini-fermenters for optimizing this novel production mechanism. We will have the opportunity to sample aromas being devised for the perfume, cosmetics, and flavor industries as well as learn about potential biomedical directions.