On the technology side
1. Homelessness 2.0: the Internet gives homeless people a way to connect and form friendships with one another, and the dropping prices of phones and phone apps give them even more access. It was especially important for Kristen, a formerly homeless 28-year-old, whose online friends on a journaling site sent her messages of hope during the worst times of her schizophrenia on the streets. They had her back whenever she was lonely or in danger.
2. Technology’s impact on marketing: the Internet has given consumers more power and transparency into what a product or service really is like versus how it is marketed. As a result, prices reflect customer experience, and marketers now need to target individuals and create personalized experiences for them.
3. Assistive technology for disabled people: From a smartwatch that translates text into Braille four letters at a time, to an app that allows the blind to ask worldwide volunteers for help in simple tasks like checking the expiry date on a milk carton, technology for disabled people is truly fascinating and innovative. One funny slogan from a touch-free smartphone: “touch is overrated.”
4. Mobile phones and women farmers: women farmers typically own less capital than their male counterparts. Many, however, are seeing their profits grow after starting to use mobile apps: lending services and agricultural weather data have lead to substantial profit increases for women in countries like India and Africa.
5. DNA App Store: an emerging technology where people can pay to have their DNA sequenced, then get access to a collection of apps where they can find out more about their health risks and how to best deal with them.
On the finance side
6. What they don’t teach you in university finance: Thomas Jefferson once said: “If we turn our monetary system over to the bankers our children will wake up as slaves in the country we fought to free.” In 2010, Australian banks were discovered to have been overcharging their customers late fees for years, making them pay the late fee even if they accidentally let in a late charge on the 31st of each month. Without keeping close watch on our bank accounts, banks can charge us unreasonable fees with an unreasonable amount of interest (1825%/year). There are more ways that banks prey on customers to create massive debt, and it would be a worthwhile career to discover this unethical behavior and either 1) rewrite the financial systems to remove it, or 2) spread awareness about these issues in mainstream media.
7. Make financial advice readily available for the people who want and need it the most: just like this article does. According to Financial Mentor, people tend to make financial decisions emotionally and then rationalize them, and their ability to rationalize bad decisions is endless. For instance, the author of the Financial Mentor slides sold his hedge fund for his dream of travelling the world, and ended up both spending millions and forgoing millions of opportunity cost he could have gotten from his hedge fund. He advocates for financial coaches, noting that they are not as caught up in the emotional constraints of their clients as much as their clients are.
8. Rethinking capitalism: If you can understand how capitalism works inside and out, its strengths and its weaknesses, you may be able to come up with a better way to reward people for their hard work, reduce wastage, and encourage social benefit over the long-term instead of purely profit-driven short-term goals.
In the intersection of technology and finance
9. Cheaper spaceflight: rockets are typically destroyed after launch. Now, thanks to SpaceX and Blue Origin, they can land safely back on Earth, which will reduce spaceflight costs by hundreds of times once they become commercially available.
10. Making mobile services available for the next billion users: Back in 2011, Facebook launched Internet.org, a collaboration of software, hardware and telecom companies that provide a smartphone app platform that can be used without counting towards monthly data limits. The initiative has since gotten more than 1 billion users. Now there are 700-800 million Internet users who don’t use Facebook yet, that Facebook is focused on connecting right now. Facebook recently launched the 1MB Facebook Lite, targeted at developing markets in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. By the end of 2016, smartphone adoption is predicted to outpace bank accounts, which opens up an opportunity for financial services to become more multifaceted. According to this article, the next steps are to 1) optimize mobile services for both slow and fast networks, 2) make apps discoverable through peer sharing networks versus through data, 3) translate apps into local languages, and 4) optimize for a range of devices, since most mobile experiences are built for high-end smartphones only.