What we’re most thankful for in tech, science, business, and innovation

We’re hopeful about the impact that MacKenzie Scott, left, and Melinda French Gates will have as independent philanthropists. (Photos via Bystander Revolution and Gates Foundation)

This was a week when many of us in the U.S. paused to reflect and give thanks. We’re keeping the tradition alive on the GeekWire Podcast. On this special holiday episode, we offer our gratitude for some of the technologies, trends and hopeful developments of the past year, as reflected in news coverage on GeekWire.

Listen below, and subscribe to GeekWire in Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen. Continue reading for a rundown of our picks.

mRNA vaccines: Here we have science, technology, innovation and a spirit of cooperation helping to address one of the most challenging situations on the planet. COVID-19 vaccines are a no-brainer to top this list.

Environmental awakening: 2021 has been a watershed moment for investors, startups, and the general business population waking up to climate change in a much bigger way. Some of the examples we discuss:

  • Amazon’s new packaging for cold and frozen food is made from layers of recyclable paper
  • Robert Downey Jr. backing Seattle bamboo toilet paper maker Cloud Paper as part of new VC effort
  • As interest in fusion energy ignites, Helion lands $500M from OpenAI CEO, Facebook co-founder

Electric vehicles and high-speed rail: The proliferation of electric vehicles on the road, and long-term planning for high-speed rail in the Cascadia Corridor has us hopeful about the future of alternative forms of transportation.

Cloud storage: It’s not a new development, of course, but the ease of storing, syncing and backing up data in the cloud is one of those advances that become an integral part of life almost without us noticing. Something as seemingly mundane as Microsoft OneDrive has made switching among PCs seamless, for example.

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Everyday AR: In much the same way, the little touches of augmented reality in the world around us have made life easier. An example: the guidelines in the backup camera on cars that make reversing into a space that much easier.

The next generation of innovators: Examples abound, as evidenced by our Junior Geek of the Month series. However, the example that stands out from the past year is Seattle teen entrepreneurs Sage Khanuja and Nikolas Ioannou building and selling their telemedicine startup in a successful exit earlier this year.

Commercial space tourism: Sure, there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about billionaires blasting themselves and a chosen few into low-Earth orbit. But if this is a key step toward a multi-planetary species, there’s also reason to be optimistic. At least, that’s one way of looking at it. We were divided on this one.

MacKenzie and Melinda: We’re hopeful about the impact that MacKenzie Scott and Melinda French Gates will have as philanthropists in their own right. For purposes of interesting news coverage, we hope the former spouses of Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates team up even more than they already have, although it might be better for the world for them to work independently.

Listen to the full episode above, and subscribe to the GeekWire Podcast for previous episodes. Hosted by GeekWire co-founders Todd Bishop and John Cook. Produced and edited by Curt Milton. Theme music by Daniel L.K. Caldwell.

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