Highlights of a presentation by ARPA-E Director, Arun Majumdar, at the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit 2012.
Majumdar: “I don’t know how many of you recognize this? (Holds up a punch card). It’s a punch card that was used until the 1970s to enter data into computer. This is what we have we have today. (Holds up a smart phone). Smart phones. We went from punch card to smart phone in thirty years. The whole information revolution, from transistors to integrated circuits, to fiber optics to wireless communications to the internet, it all happened here in the United States. We didn’t make better and better punch cards; we invented the future to enable the rest of the world.
We have been doing this from the last century. The Wright brothers invented the airplane and we made sure we manufactured them here, which enabled mobility for the rest of the world. Norman Borlaug created the green revolution for food and saved million of people from famine. I stand here because of Borlaug’s revolution. Jonas Salk discovered the polio vaccination and we have almost eradicated polio from earth. And Nicola Tesla and Westinghouse together created the first AC electricity grid right here, which other nations then adopted which helped them modernize. I can go on and on but here’s the point: in the history of humankind, the 20th Century will be remembered as the American century, because it was here that we used the greatest renewable resource -- our ingenuity to create new technologies based on science and engineering, to create new businesses based on entrepreneurship and exporting all these new technologies to change the world. That’s the legacy we have.
With that legacy in mind, let us now look ahead to the 21st century. I believe that energy offers the biggest challenges and the biggest opportunities.”