Technologies to Bet On

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From his perch at the venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, our panelist John Doerr highlights two of the fields on the brink of technological upheaval.

Battery Technology

For decades, battery performance has improved at a very low rate—nothing like the annual 40 percent advance in microchips predicted by Moore’s Law. Better storage batteries would allow us to extend today’s power grid and to deploy more renewables.

Kleiner is backing some companies, like QuantumScape, Aquion Energy, and Amprius, that are using advances in materials and nanoscience—“the science of the small”—to develop truly disruptive technologies. If you could double or triple the energy density of a battery, you could reduce its cost by 50 or 70 percent, which could be a total game changer for transportation: electric vehicles would approach the cost of gasoline-powered ones.

Digital Health

Until recently, there was more information technology in your average grocery store than in your doctor’s office. It’s easy to imagine that a decade from now, all health-care data will be in the cloud, providers will carry tablets, and patients will wear devices that track their pulse, steps, and vital signs.

Kleiner has been investing selectively in tools that empower patients and providers, like MyFitnessPal and Practice Fusion. The goal is to go from a system that’s focused on sick care to one that’s working on health care.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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