The next tech boom may involve using IT to develop clean sources of energy, according to Goldman Sachs' Bob Hormats.
"This decade is a decade for developing very innovative ways of addressing our energy crisis," said Hormats, vice chairman at Goldman and a former member of the Bureau of Economics and Business Affairs in the Department of State under Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter.
Hormats kicked off day 2 of the Future in Review conference with a discussion of the need to reduce our dependence on oil, a huge issue in the U.S. this year as gas prices have soared. One way this could be done is with increased investments in ideas like "flex cars," cars that can burn gasoline, ethanol and other liquid biomass fuels, Hormats said. There are about 200,000 cars in the U.S. that already can do this, and while there are engineering challenges in making this capability mainstream, it's certainly possible with directed investment, he said.
But the U.S. isn't the only country scrounging for more oil. China's use of imported oil has soared with that country's economic rise, forcing China to use coal plants to supply energy, Hormats said. He called on the U.S. government to enter into an "energy partnership" with China, sharing technology for burning coal in a cleaner fashion.
The tech world will likely play a significant role in developing new sources of energy and improving the efficiency of current technologies, Hormats said. "A lot of bright people who developed their expertise in one area are trying to transfer their expertise to the clean fuels area," he said, citing projects under way at MIT. Technology can also play a role with the development of better conference systems that could reduce the need for air travel.