First published in 1999, the TIME 100 list is a yearly listicle of the most influential people in the world as assembled by the popular American news magazine Time. Originally the result of a debate among American academics, politicians, and journalists, the list is now a highly publicized annual event.
While inclusion on the list is often seen as an honor, the magazine has always made it very clear that entrants are recognized for changing the world, regardless of the consequences of their actions. Here are a few of the tech leaders who made the list in 2019…
No list of powerful people would be complete without Facebook’s CEO. The social media giant has seen its fair share of scandals over the last year or so but there’s no denying that Zuckerberg is one of the most influential people in the world. Facebook has millions of users spread around the entire globe – as do Instagram, which the company bought in 2012, and WhatsApp, which it acquired two years later in 2014.
Hewson is the current chairman, president and chief executive officer of aerospace and defense company Lockheed Martin. She got her start at the company in 1983 as a senior industrial engineer and was named the 20th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes Magazine in 2015. Since becoming CEO she has doubled the company’s market cap and broken countless barriers in an industry long dominated by men, supporting STEM education as well as trade and export expansion.
The Chinese businessman founded Huawei in 1987 with a meager US$5,600 investment and his stewardship of the company has transformed it into the world’s biggest telecoms equipment firm, with $107 billion in revenue and customers in 170 countries and regions in 2018. Besides cutting edge smartphones, Huawei is at the forefront of revolutionary 5G technology which will fuel the driverless cars and smart factories of the future.
Huawei’s growing geostrategic importance has placed it at the center of the brewing tech cold war between the US and China with several major countries banning the company’s new technology from domestic infrastructure over allegations of spying and ties to China’s communist party. Ren denies links to the Chinese government and attributes the company’s growth to unparalleled customer service.
Earlier this year, scientists captured the first ever photograph of an actual, real life black hole. This milestone in humanity’s exploration of the galaxy was made possible by the Event Horizon Telescope, created by Harvard astronomer Sheperd Doeleman and his team of 200 researchers. Their project linked radio telescopes around the globe to create a single “telescope” that spanned the entire Earth, allowing them – and us – to see, first time in human history, a lensed ring of light surrounding a black hole fifty-five million light years away.
We’ve seen evidence of black holes before – such as stars rotating in the center of the galaxy at speeds too fast to be explained by ordinary distributions of matter; X-rays emitted by matter accreting onto the black holes; as well as gravitational waves – but direct evidence, like a photograph, has a much more powerful resonance. This triumph of technology allowed us to see something no one had ever seen before – and promises much more to come in the future.
Scientist He Jiankui demonstrated to the world that while human embryo editing is relatively easy to do, it’s incredibly hard to do well – or ethically. Despite a global consensus in the scientific community that CRISPR-Cas9 is still too experimental and dangerous for use on human embryos, he recklessly applied it to permanently change the genomes of twin girls to give them immunity to the HIV virus.
His work in China was one of the most shocking misapplications of any scientific tool in history. It not only shattered scientific, medical, and ethical norms, it was also medically unnecessary because while the girls’ father is HIV-positive, it’s rare for parents to pass it to their children and potent drugs can now control the infection if they do. The potential for gene editing to improve our lives is huge but its potential to harm – with unintended, unknown side effects – has yet to be determined.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]