02/14/2013 04:27 pm ET Updated Apr 16, 2013


A few days ago I participated in the 43rd World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It's always encouraging to participate in this type of forum, even in the conferences that might seem alien to us.

For example, during a talk about current NASA exploration in Mars and the benefits of basic open research (internationally known as Blue skies research), I heard very interesting ideas that I would like to share. These are lessons that invite us to challenge common thought.

In fact, while I was at Davos, I published on my Twitter account a thrilling video we were shown during a conference about "Roving on Mars with Curiosity", narrating all the technical challenges that NASA engineers had to solve to send an exploration vehicle to the surface of Mars.

The Curiosity Rover is a fantastic example of research and development, a solar powered machine, designed to collect information from Martian soil, to establish whether or not there ever were or ever will be suitable conditions to harbor life in that planet.

Results of this research will probably not be useful in the short term (thus the term "blue skies research"), but will most likely serve as a basis to send the first manned mission to Mars in the future.

Reaching Mars would hypothetically broaden the scope of humanity, but what does this depend on? The answer is knowledge.

A completely foreign environment, regardless of the number of scientific interpretations, will always be a challenge. To this, we must add the limited control over the mission in real time -- a signal with instructions from Earth to Mars takes at least 14 minutes to come and go -- and on top of this is the risk of failure no matter how narrow the margin may be.

The same thing happens in business, but also in public policy. Many times we face scenarios of great uncertainty and little control.

Knowledge in society plays a strategic role: its basis, education, is crucial to promote development and prosperity. Investment in basic science research provides benefits that will elevate our quality of life in the future.

Some examples of the fruits of research are the laser, invented in 1960; fiber optics, developed in the 1970s; not to mention transistors and integrated circuits -- the microchip.

Without these three discoveries we wouldn't have the global network we have today, which for example, enables us to read this blog from any corner of the planet, or to use gadgets that are authentic pocket computers with a processing capacity that can go beyond what the Pentagon had only thirty years ago.

We live in a time that demands specific solutions for persistent problems. We can't live and expect anything from the future if we don't work out the present. What will we do to expand knowledge and our expectations for prosperity?