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What Do I Need to Know?

What do you already know? I’m sure that there are some things in, around, or about the subject that you already know and might not even realize it. Even if the emerging technology space you’re about to set foot in is the most revolutionary, groundbreaking, never-seen-before amazing thing, it emerged from somewhere so there is still a decent likelihood that you can take advantage of some transferrable knowledge. Take 3D printing technology, for example. Its current state is an evolution of high-end stereolithography for rapid prototyping, which was invented in the 1980s,[] and large format threedimensional printing, which itself was derived from technology used in inkjet printers and patented by MIT in the 1990s.[] The same can be said for the Internet of Things and sensor networks. Before the Internet of Things, there was the Internet, mobile devices, sensors, and microprocessors. Even genetic engineering and DNA synthesis is only possible because of the discovery of DNA, the history of traditional plant or animal breeding, and Sanger sequencing, developed in the 1970s.[] The point is, there is likely some body of valuable knowledge you already have buried in your memory somewhere about these technologies that you can dust off and use.

The real question you need to answer is, “Is my knowledge still relevant or useful?” I mean, my high school biology might have been 22 years ago (yikes!) but I can tell you that what I learned then was definitely helpful during my research into genetic testing because it provided the scaffolding for supporting new and more complex concepts and details. Genetics hasn’t fundamentally changed in the past two decades, we just know more — a lot more. So, that double helix I first learned about in 1989 was still relevant, but it certainly wasn’t enough.

 
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