Making money can be reduced to a simple method: solve a problem. Figuring out an easy, quick, and profitable solution to a ubiquitous issue is the basic equation that any business follows. Either being the first to devise a solution, or coming in afterward to improve upon it — this is how entrepreneurs with simple ideas turn their concepts into successful companies.
With that in mind, looking for a problem to solve is often a huge hang-up for would-be entrepreneurs. After all, our modern lives are pretty cushy — most people don’t live in constant fear of being devoured by predators, starving, or really anything else life-threatening. Most of our problems have been taken care of, and with the advent of the Internet and mobile technology, almost anything we want or need is a few taps away.
So, for those looking to make a fortune, where to turn? How about some of the biggest, most mind-numbing and frightening issues facing the world today?
Well, potential world-savers, you’re in luck. Because there are a lot of them.
The problem is, some of these problems are so immense and complex, that even the world’s best and brightest have yet to come up with solutions for them. That’s not to say that there aren’t thousands of people working hard to find answers — just that they aren’t quite there yet. And that’s where the opportunity lies.
On the next several pages, you’ll read about some of the world’s biggest issues and what’s being done to solve them. If an idea were developed to tackle these problems head-on, it’s clear that it would probably result in a large pay day, or at least in unequivocal fame and respect.
Sound like something you’d be interested in? Put on your thinking cap, because these five problems are about as big and complicated as it gets.
1. Energy storage
Your time might be running out on this one, because a lot of money and time is being spent as we speak to solve our energy storage issues. Essentially, we have no real way of storing energy created by wind and solar power generators. It’s why we continue to rely heavily on fossil fuels — when the sun goes down and the wind stops blowing, we run out of juice.
If we had the storage technology, it’s likely that wind and solar power would quickly become the dominant form of energy generation.
The good news for the world is that we’re getting there. Tesla has made big strides in developing batteries, and other companies, like Solar City, are putting considerable resources to work as well. As soon as the ultimate breakthrough is made, everything is likely to change. But there’s still time, because we haven’t made it yet. For the person or company that ultimately figures it out, they will undoubtedly leave a lasting mark on the world for generations to come.
2. Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence is upon us, but there are some very, very serious concerns about what that means for humanity. Famous scientists have been speaking up for several years about AI, and how we need to tread very carefully in implementing it — lest we end up with a Terminator or Matrix-esque future. The point is, artificial intelligence will change everything; it’s just a matter of how humanity fits into the equation.
What the world needs is AI safeguards, or protocols to make sure AIs, or rogue AIs, can be contained. From drones to autonomous robots used for soldiering, there is a lot to be concerned about. And if some of this technology were to fall into the hands of those who wish to do harm to large amounts of people, things could get very, very ugly. This is something that we’re still not properly dealing with yet, though we continue to build new and advanced AIs at a record pace.
3. Space exploration/resource capture
There’s an awful lot of money literally flying through space. The problem is, we don’t have a real way of reaching it; or capturing it, and bringing it back down to Earth for processing and use. Asteroids, giant hunks of rock that are flying through or suspended in outer space, are loaded with precious metals and other natural resources that are in finite supply here on Earth. If we were to find a way to get to these asteroids, mine them, and bring said resources back, we could effectively limit scarcity problems.
But that’s the catch — we have to get there, and bring it back. Some companies are working on it, like Planetary Resources. But we’re still a long way off. Whoever is able to put together an actionable plan and then execute it will be rolling in more space cash than they know what to do with.
4. Water scarcity
If you’ve been paying attention to the news, or live in the drought-stricken western part of the United States, you’re well aware that water scarcity is an ongoing issue. And with global climate change starting to reshape how and where water levels ebb and flow, it’s something that we’re going to need to find answers to, and fast. The effects of water scarcity could be huge. Not only will large populations need to move and resettle near fresh, potable water supplies, but the entire world map as we know it could go through a dramatic transformation.
Right now, there aren’t many viable solutions to the problem. There are ideas, sure, but not much traction as far as implementation. We may need to wait for some crazy new technology, or do what we can to stave-off climate change, but water scarcity is likely going to be a big impediment for world development for generations to come.
5. Food Production
Issues like water scarcity and energy storage also play into our final big problem that needs solving: food production. We may have it good here in America, but there are still millions upon millions of starving and hungry people in the world. And as the climate changes, and resources become even further strained, growing crops and raising animals for food will become even more difficult — if not impossible.
Luckily, there are some strides being made. Indoor, vertical farms are being developed, as is lab-grown meat. While that may sound unappetizing, meat grown in labs is a big deal — because raising animals takes a huge amount of energy and space, and is incredibly destructive, if not completely unsustainable.
What does that mean for you, intrepid entrepreneur? Opportunities to make money. Either investing in or developing new and efficient ways to produce food, in mass quantities, indoors using less resources? That’s a ticket to the billionaires’ club.
Follow Sam on Twitter @SliceOfGinger