We are facing an existential crisis. The anticipated global population of more than 9.7 billion by 2050 poses daunting challenges from providing sufficient energy, food, and water, as well as health care more accurately and at lower cost, to trespassing biogeophysical boundaries. These challenges are enormous in scale and complexity, and we will need to take equally enormous leaps in our imagination to meet them successfully.
In the first convergence revolution the atomic parts list discovered by physicists sparked a first bringing us radar, television, computers, and the internet, just to start. Radically changing our conception of what is possible would be altered. We are on the brink of a second convergence revolution, where engineers and physical scientists are recognizing how we can use this biological ‘parts list’ to adapt these natural machines to our own uses.
We can’t predict the transformations that this ‘Convergence 2.0’ will bring but we can see clearly that it will throw open the doors of innovation, world-changing ideas will walk through. The Convergence 2.0 revolution is happening all around us, but its success is not inevitable. For it to succeed at the maximum pace with maximum impact, biologists and engineers, along with clinicians, physicists, computational scientists, and others, need to be able to move across disciplines with shared ambition. This will require us to reorganize our thinking and our funding.