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In the September issue of MIT Technology Review, the staff invited the perspective of five individuals with varying backgrounds and life experiences. The objective of this article is to share a forward-thinking perspective, as well as a retrospective reflection.

The young people interviewed embrace new innovation and concepts, make efforts to promote social connectedness and support altruistic causes (e.g., environmental, social justice, higher consciousness). Here are highlights from each of the three interviews:

  • Kenneth Shinozuka (20-years old) – Shinozuka is interested in exploring human consciousness – a new field of science – and its infinite possibilities in combining neuroscience, philosophy, physics, and spirituality.
  • Kairan Quazi (10-years old) – Quazi is working to develop algorithms to neutralize biases in AI, with the potential to revolutionize socio-economic institutions (e.g., criminal justice system) and provide better educational pathways for neurotypical and asynchronous learners.
  • Melati Wijsen (18-years old) – Wijsen observed environmental crisis and created Bye Bye Plastic Bags, a youth-led NGO with the vision for making Bali plastic bag-free. Over 130 tons of plastic waste was collected over the past six years and has expanded to 40 locations around the world.

The featured older generation interviews are illustrative of progress in the face of oppressive norms (war, corporate exploitation, workplace inequality), but also acknowledging the amount of work that still needs to be done. Here are the highlights:

  • John Goodenough (96-years old) – Goodenough reflects that while technology is neutral, society is the determining factor in how it is used. And decisions are often still made profit margins rather than what is best for the preservation of people and the planet.
  • Donna Shirley (78-years old) – Shirley revolutionized NASA programs around Mars exploration, and through her work made advances for equal pay and female leadership at NASA.  “I think I bent a few ceilings, but the big projects are still managed by men,” says Shirley.

These interviews share a common thread of practical wisdom around how technology can be a platform for necessary change.