Vivek Wadhwa
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Vivek Wadhwa

Fellow, Singularity University and Stanford Law School; Distinguished Fellow and professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering; Director of Research at Duke University; Syndicated Columnist, The Washington Post; Entrepreneur and Futurist

Called “Silicon Valley’s most provocative voice” for his ideas on technology trends, globalization, U.S. competitiveness and the future, Vivek Wadhwa’s work puts him at the heart of where innovations—technological and otherwise—are being developed that will change the very way that we work and live.

Why Innovation Isn't Dead: A Look at Our Technology Future

There is a lot of pessimism about the future. Some people argue that, other than advances in computer-related fields, technological progress has actually stalled: the internal-combustion engine, invented in 1876, still rules our highways; the cancer death rate has barely changed since 1971; today’s Internet was actually designed in the 1960s. There are fears that world wars will break out over water and energy shortages and that our standards of living will fall.

These perceptions couldn’t be further from the truth.

Vivek Wadhwa will discuss why he believes that this will be the most innovative decade in human history. He will explain how exponentially advancing technologies—in fields such as robotics, A.I., computing, synthetic biology, 3D printing, medicine, and nanomaterials—will enable us to start solving humanity’s grand challenges.

These technologies will disrupt entire industries, provide opportunities to create new ones, and help solve humanity’s grand challenges. For example:

  • 3D printing and robotics will enable manufacturing to return to the U.S.
  • Advances in DNA sequencing and synthetic biology will make it possible to engineer drugs for the individual and create personalized stem cell lines.
  • Autonomous, self-driving cars will revolutionize urban transport.
  • Low-cost tablets and artificial-intelligence–based learning systems will change the teaching paradigm and bring education to the world’s masses.
  • Star Trek–like tricorders, holodecks, and replicators will become a reality.

These advances aren’t going to come from governments and large research labs but from small groups of motivated people. Wadhwa will give you a tour of the Star Trek future

Disrupted Industries and Trillion-Dollar Opportunities

Not long ago, you could see your competition coming. Management guru Clayton Christensen coined the term “disruptive innovation” to describe how competition worked: a new entrant attacked a market leader by launching low-end, low-priced products and then relentlessly improving them. Now Christensen’s frameworks have themselves been disrupted—because you can no longer see the competition coming. Technologies are no longer progressing in a predictable linear fashion, but are advancing exponentially and converging. Fields such as computing, medicine, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, robotics, nanomaterials, and synthetic biology are advancing simultaneously, and combining these allows one industry to rapidly disrupt another—before market leaders even know what has hit them.

Practically every industry will be disrupted over the next few years, including finance, insurance, health care, manufacturing, transportation, education, I.T. services, and communications. Very few of today’s Fortune 500 companies will be on that list by the early 2020s. They will go the way of Blockbuster, Kodak, RIM, Compaq, and Nokia.

This is not all bad news, because disruption creates opportunities. New industries will emerge, and companies that lead the change will have the trillion-dollar market capitalizations. Business executives need to understand that:

  • trillion-dollar opportunities happen at the intersections of exponential technologies
  • disruptions are happening in every industry where technology can be applied
  • entrepreneurs can now do what only governments and big corporations could do before
  • if they don’t disrupt themselves, they will be disrupted by startups from other industries.

Businesses must learn the new rules of the innovation game and transform their employees into intrapreneurs who think—and act—like the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who are gunning for Goliath.

Vivek Wadhwa will teach the basics of exponential technologies and convergence, provide examples of the disruptions that are under way in several industries, discuss the new rules of the innovation game, and challenge his audience members to think like today’s technology entrepreneurs—and to build the new billion-dollar businesses within their companies.

How America is Reinventing Itself and Innovation is Globalizing

A common belief is that the sun is setting on the U.S. empire and that China is about to leapfrog the U.S. in economic terms—and in innovation. In addition to economic disadvantages, naysayers have long cited graduation data purporting to show that the U.S. is falling behind in mathematics and science education and have predicted that the U.S. will lose it global advantage because China and India graduate more engineers than does the U.S. China, India, and the rest of the world are now innovating as never before. But it isn’t their governments or education systems that are giving them the advantage—it is their nascent entrepreneurs. They are leading the way in innovation and helping the countries transform themselves. And contrary to popular belief, America is getting further ahead in innovation, it isn’t lagging. The U.S. is reinventing itself, just as it does every 30 or 40 years.

In this talk, Vivek Wadhwa will explain how exponential technologies are about to cause major disruption in several U.S. industries—but they will wreak havoc on the economies of countries such as China and Russia and the Middle East. That is because manufacturing is once again becoming a local industry and is coming back to the U.S., thanks to robotics and 3D printing; because energy prices, which fell temporarily because of fracking, will fall permanently because of advances in alternative, clean energies such as solar, wind, and geothermal; and because advances in artificial intelligence and computing are automating knowledge work.

Some countries will win in a big way and others will lose. Wadhwa will discuss his research on education and innovation in countries such as India and China and put this in the context of today’s exponential technology advances. He will discuss the opportunities and perils for countries that these technologies are introducing.

Additional Presentations by Vivek Wadhwa:

The Dark Side of Advancing Technologies and Why Policy, Law, and Ethics Can’t Keep Up

How Technology Will Eat Medicine: Future of Healthcare

A Better Formula for Economic Growth: People, Not Top-Down Clusters

Exponential Innovation Workshop (5-7 hours)

Meet Vivek Wadhwa

Called “Silicon Valley’s most provocative voice” for his ideas on technology trends, globalization, U.S. competitiveness and the future, Vivek Wadhwa’s work puts him at the heart of where innovations—technological and otherwise—are being developed that will change the very way that we work and live.

From tech entrepreneur and business owner to accomplished academic and widely published writer, Vivek Wadhwa is an innovation agent who leads research at Singularity University, an institution that educates a select group of leaders about the exponentially growing technologies that are soon going to change our world. He also teaches on the impact of these technologies, at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering and Stanford Law School. The advances he discusses—in fields such as robotics, A.I., computing, synthetic biology, 3D printing, medicine, and nanomaterials—are making it possible for small teams to do what was once possible only for governments and large corporations to do: solve the grand challenges in education, water, food, shelter, health, and security. Wadhwa is a syndicated columnist for The Washington Post and a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, and VentureBeat. Wadhwa shares with audiences how technology will transform our world, disrupt entire industries, and create new ones. An observer and researcher on the trends shaping globalization and innovation around the world, Wadhwa also shows the keys to having the U.S. remain competitive in the face of rapid transformation shaping business in India, China, and Latin America. He is the author of Innovating Women: The Changing Face of Technology (September 2014) and Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent (October 2012).

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