Smart people gather in Denver to solve the world's problems

A bunch of really smart techies from all over the world are trying to solve the world's problems right now in Downtown Denver.

DENVER - Don't call them nerds because they're smarter than you -- and probably make a lot more than you.

Some of the smartest techies in the world are in Downtown Denver this weekend.

The University of Denver, the United Nations Foundation and Colorado's Office of Economic Development and International Trade are hosting "Flight to Denver."

Entrepreneurs from 11 different countries, representing 15 companies are here for a technology summit.

Lauren Fletcher represents BioCarbon Engineering, which is based in the UK. That company is working on technology to plant one billion trees each year…with a drone.

"We start with custom seed pods. These seed pods are really about 'this big' (take your finger and thumb and make an 'ok' sign and then separate your thumb and finger just a little bit more). And these contain a germinated seed, nutrients and everything necessary to help that seed germinate and grow into a healthy tree. We load these into our drones. The drones fly at 10 feet off the ground and they fire these into the ground with pressurized air, and they go right into the ground, like that."

He said this kind of technology can't help Colorado's bark beetle problem and the tens of thousands of dead trees in the mountains. However, if someone took those trees out, Fletcher said these drones could replant the areas faster than humans.

"When you want to go in and you want to do the planting portion, right now It's only people on the ground and it's really hard work and it's really slow and it's really expensive. So, what if you could give these same planters a new tool, like a really smart shovel that allowed them to plant at 10 times the rate, 20 times the rate, 60 times the rate of what they're doing right now?" said Fletcher. "It's like 3D printing a forest is what we're doing."

Gov. John Hickenlooper kicked off the event on Friday, with someone who had a job you never knew existed; Megan Smith is the former Chief Technology Officer of the United States under President Obama.

Since we could, we asked the former top U.S. techie when we're going to be living like 'The Jetsons.'

"We're getting into some kind of 'Jetsons' future, and we want one that includes everyone and solves the hardest problems. This idea of, not just us flying, but what if we fly to plant a billion trees a year like one of the companies here, to help us with climate change and extreme weather and clean air," said Smith.

Some of the other projects being honed this weekend:

  • An app that crowdsources and maps anonymous reports of sexual harassment and assault
  • Cold storage for farmers that allows perishable foods to last 21 days instead of three days
  • Sustainable toilet system that turns human waste into fertilizer

Read more about the companies participating in "Flight to Denver" here.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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