Protecting Our Greatest Natural Resource: Human Intelligence

Mind BlowingNate Levine saw a problem: “Governments struggle to access [their own] data, because there aren’t good tools out there.” So, he raised $7 million in venture funds and launched, OpenGov, a software platform that enables governments to make data-driven decisions.

Oh, and did we mention he was 20 years old when he did it?

Levine is one of the 450 young guns Forbes included on its list of “30 Under 30,” which comprises the magazine’s best guess about who the next generation of world changers will be in fifteen categories. A few other notable people include:

  • Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy – founders of SnapChat, the latest must-have app for teens and 20-somethings. It is an app that lets you send photos and/or short videos that disappear ten seconds after you look at them.
  • Shiza Shahid – a McKinsey consultant who met Malala Yousafzai in 2009.  The young Pakistani woman dared to advocate for the education of girls and was shot by the Taliban in 2012 for her stance. In the aftermath, Malala was rushed to London for emergency treatment, and it was Shahid who helped oversee the young girl’s care. Together, they later formed, The Malala Fund, which promotes education for young women in developing and restricted countries as a method for social change.
  • Nic Borg – developer of, Edmodo, which has been called “the Facebook of education.” It is a social media platform for students and teachers to use to enhance the classroom.
  • Trip Adler – founder of, Scribd, which is Netflix for ebooks. For a monthly fee of $8.99, members can have unlimited access to any book in the Scribd library of 100,000+ classics, best sellers, and new publications.

NextGov also published an interesting perspective on entrepreneurship advocating Congress fix our broken immigration system and complete legislation to protect entrepreneurs from frivolous lawsuits filed by patent trolls.

  • Regarding immigration, NextGov points out that some of the best and brightest minds from other countries come to Stanford, CalTech, MIT, etc. but are often forced to return to their home countries because of antiquated immigration laws.
  • In December, the House passed the Innovation Act of 2013, which takes direct aim at dubious individuals/firms that buy or license patents for the sole purpose of trying to wrangle settlements from lawsuits that could cost millions to defend. Now, the Senate needs to do its part.

In these days when no national issue is too big or too small to avoid being sucked into a partisan black hole, it’s still important to remember that actions have consequences. Inaction on immigration reform may appease the far right in the short term. But, the loss of technical talent in an increasingly competitive global economy will hurt the American economy over the long term.

America and Congress needs to ask whether such empty bickering is really worth the price.

Posted under: Congress, Ideas, Innovation, Science, TechTalk

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