The Hard Problems issue

Technology is all about solving big thorny problems. Yet one of the hardest things about solving hard problems is knowing where to focus our efforts. There are so many urgent issues facing the world. Where should we even begin? So we asked dozens of people to identify what problem at the intersection of technology and society that they think we should focus more of our energy on. We queried scientists, journalists, politicians, entrepreneurs, activists, and CEOs.

Some broad themes emerged: the climate crisis, global health, creating a just and equitable society, and AI all came up frequently. There were plenty of outliers, too, ranging from regulating social media to fighting corruption.

Jennifer Doudna
Jennifer Doudna received a Nobel Prize in 2020 for her groundbreaking work with CRISPR gene editing.

Is a cure really a cure if it’s inaccessible? Can market incentives support cures for rare diseases? Currently, the answer to both is no. CRISPR tools have progressed rapidly from labs to clinical trials, promising to address genetic disease at scale. Yet with costs reaching the millions, some trials halt for financial reasons, while the treatments that reach approval will be unaffordable to all but a few. The great potential of CRISPR therapies, especially for neglected diseases, risks being wasted without reducing costs and establishing new pathways to the clinic.







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