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Vivek Wadhwa

Technology & Innovation Author, Academic and Futurist

Technology's Great Communicator

Technology is creating the most exciting innovations the world has ever seen. It is also causing anxiety about our future. Navigating technological change at light speed is much harder if you don’t have a trusted Sherpa to be your guide. Vivek Wadhwa has become a globally respected voice on advancing technologies and innovation.

He has been a globally syndicated columnist for The Washington Post and has held appointments as Distinguished Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program, Carnegie Mellon University, and Emory University; adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon and Duke University; fellow at Stanford Law School and UC Berkeley; and head of faculty at Singularity University.

Vivek is based in Silicon Valley and researches, speaks, and writes about advancing technologies that are transforming our world. These advances – in fields such as robotics, artificial intelligence, 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.

In 2012, the U.S. Government awarded Wadhwa distinguished recognition as an “Outstanding American by Choice” for his “commitment to this country and to the common civic values that unite us as Americans”.

He was also named one of the world’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers” by Foreign Policy magazine in that year; in June 2013, he was on TIME magazine’s list of “Tech 40”, one of forty of the most influential minds in tech; and in September 2015, he was second on a list of “ten men worth emulating” in The Financial Times. In 2018, he was awarded Silicon Valley Forum’s Visionary Award, a list of luminaries “who have made Silicon Valley synonymous with creativity and life-changing advancements in technology”.

 

  • Ai And The Incremental To Exponential Opportunities
  • Disruption And Opportunity
  • Disrupted Industries and Trillion-Dollar Opportunities

Vivek gives more than 100 talks every year to the most prestigious and powerful audiences, including world leaders, CEOs, industry organizations, universities, entrepreneurship groups, and a multitude of national science and engineering academies.

Travels From:  California
City: San Francisco
$30,001 and Up

Biography

Vivek’s background is impressive — an Entrepreneur, Academic, Author, Keynote Speaker wrapped into a wonderfully vibrant and charismatic package. His research is focused on the critical advances in robotics, artificial intelligence, computing, synthetic biology, 3D printing, medicine, and nanomaterials, and how these advances are creating disruptive changes for companies, industries, governments and the culture at large.

Vivek Wadhwa is an academic, entrepreneur, and author of five best-selling books: From Incremental to Exponential; Your Happiness Was Hacked; The Driver in the Driverless Car; Innovating Women; and The Immigrant Exodus.

He has been a globally syndicated columnist for The Washington Post and has held appointments as Distinguished Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program, Carnegie Mellon University, and Emory University; adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon and Duke University; fellow at Stanford Law School and UC Berkeley; and head of faculty at Singularity University.

Vivek is based in Silicon Valley and researches, speaks, and writes about advancing technologies that are transforming our world. These advances – in fields such as robotics, artificial intelligence, 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.

In 2012, the U.S. Government awarded Wadhwa distinguished recognition as an “Outstanding American by Choice” for his “commitment to this country and to the common civic values that unite us as Americans”.

He was also named one of the world’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers” by Foreign Policy magazine in that year; in June 2013, he was on TIME magazine’s list of “Tech 40”, one of forty of the most influential minds in tech; and in September 2015, he was second on a list of “ten men worth emulating” in The Financial Times. In 2018, he was awarded Silicon Valley Forum’s Visionary Award, a list of luminaries “who have made Silicon Valley synonymous with creativity and life-changing advancements in technology”.

Earlier in his academic career, Wadhwa studied remedies for the effect of globalization on U.S. competitiveness. His team’s report on engineers’ education, in 2005, dispelled myths that India’s and China’s graduation rates were ten times U.S. ones. Though both India and China graduate many more “engineers” than the U.S. does, their definitions of those terms include everyone from mechanics to trade-school graduates. Elite institutions in both countries do turn out world-class engineers, but their numbers are small. Wadhwa’s subsequent research revealed why companies were going off shore and highlighted new trends in the globalization of R&D and innovation. To explain how India was achieving success despite its weak education system, Wadhwa published a seminal research report that analyzed its surrogate education system and workforce-development practices. Indian companies, in particular, have become global centers of excellence in high-skill areas, including software development, chip design, pharmaceutical research, and advanced engineering tasks such as aircraft-engine design. Wadhwa found that the best Indian companies more than compensated for the inadequacy of the country’s education system by developing their own, highly innovative, training programs.

Wadhwa’s teams’ research on American competitive advantages focused on entrepreneurship, skilled immigration, and university-research commercialization. It revealed key insights into the ages, education backgrounds, and motivations of tech entrepreneurs, and documented that more than one in four U.S. technology startups from 1995 to 2005 was founded by an immigrant. These immigrants tended to be highly educated, with strong backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Wadhwa found that a flawed immigration system had created a backlog of more than a million skilled workers who were waiting for permanent-resident visas and that this backlog had the potential to cause a sizable brain drain of talent from the U.S. to other countries and a weakening of U.S. competitiveness. His research then tracked returnees to India and China and determined that they were having greater success back home.

Wadhwa has also researched Silicon Valley’s diversity, or the lack of it. He documented that women entrepreneurs have the same backgrounds and motivations as men do, but are rare in the ranks of technology CEOs and CTOs.

Wadhwa has collaborated with highly regarded academics from Stanford, Harvard, Duke, NYU, UC-Berkeley, and other universities. His research, which has been supported by several grants from the Kauffman Foundation and by the Sloan Foundation, has been cited in thousands of national and international media outlets since 2007, and has gained the attention of policy makers. Wadhwa has delivered keynote speeches at hundreds of conferences, including those of the National Governors Association and the National Academy of Sciences.

Before becoming an academic, Wadhwa was a technology executive known for pioneering change and innovation. He started his career as a software developer and gained a deep understanding of the challenges in building computer systems. His quest to help solve some of I.T.’s most daunting problems began at New York–based investment banking powerhouse CS First Boston (CSFB), where he was Vice President of Information Services. There he spearheaded the development of technology for creating computer-aided software-writing systems that was so successful that CSFB decided to spin off that business unit into its own company, Seer Technologies. As its Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Wadhwa helped grow the nascent startup into a $118 million publicly traded company.

With the explosive growth of the Internet, Wadhwa saw an even greater opportunity to help businesses adapt to new and fast-changing technologies, and founded Relativity Technologies. As a result of his vision, Forbes.com named Wadhwa a “Leader of Tomorrow”, and Fortune magazine declared Relativity one of the 25 coolest companies in the world.

Wadhwa holds a B.A. in Computing Studies from the University of Canberra, in Australia, and an MBA from New York University. He is founding president of the Carolinas chapter of The IndUS Entrepreneurs (TIE), a non-profit global network intended to foster entrepreneurship. He has been featured in thousands of articles in publications world wide, including the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Forbes magazine, The Washington Post, The New York Times, U.S. News and World Report, and Science Magazine, and has made many appearances on U.S. and international TV stations, including CBS 60 Minutes, PBS, CNN, ABC, NBC, CNBC, and the BBC.

Presentations

The pandemic has taught us the incredible power of exponentials.  We’ve seen how a small development in a far-off place can set off a series of events which quickly disrupts everything about our lives.  But it’s not only viruses that advance exponentially.  In the coming years, a range of technologies will create the same sort explosive and transformative changes across industry, society, and government.

What is enabling this new revolution is computer technology’s exponentially increasing pace of advancement.  Our smartphones now have greater computing power than yesterday’s supercomputers.  Every technology that is information-based is advancing on an exponential curve, including, AI, robotics, sensors, synthetic biology, 3D printing, and quantum computing — all becoming smaller, faster, and cheaper.

Advancing technologies can be deceptive because at first because as they advance on a linear scale things move very slowly. Then when the exponential curve trends upwards we are caught off guard and disappointment leads to amazement and fear. This is precisely what is happening with Artificial Intelligence, which as recently as a decade ago was considered a failed technology — after two “AI winters”.

Today, new “large language models” (llms) that power tools such as Chatgpt have surprised even their creators with their unexpected talents. They are about to make obsolete all of the data analytics tools that corporations use, from the tried and tested decisions support systems to the knowledge based and expert systems. This is because they can analyze billions of times more information far more effectively than anything before. Their impact will be akin to the introduction of electricity and everything that has already been electrified will also be “cognified.”

Vivek Wadhwa will explain in simple terms what these emerging technologies are, including:

  • What led artificial intelligence (A.I.), the stuff of science fiction, to failure in the ’90s, and the new methods of data analysis and the advent of the GPU that revived it

  • Separating fact from fiction: the difference between today’s “narrow” or “weak” A.I. and tomorrow’s artificial general intelligence and superintelligence

  • How A.I. can provide the cheap, reliable, industrial-grade digital smartness to transform decision-making in everything from stock trading, document review, and financial analysis to security, intelligence, fraud detection, and law enforcement

  • Classes of machine-learning strategies — supervised, unsupervised, and reinforcement — and their application in business

  • Cutting through the hype: the limits and practicalities of business A.I.

  • Regulatory and reputational concerns arising from A.I.’s opacity

Attendees will learn of the incredible opportunities we now have to build new billion dollar businesses in trillion dollar industries.

Unprecedented advances in technology have now made science fiction a reality. In only a handful of years, we’ve moved to the near worldwide use of handheld computing, the full mapping the human genome, and the advent of drones and driverless cars, to name just a few life-changing developments. This trajectory of technological advancement is only getting faster.

Based on his critically acclaimed new book The Driver in the Driverless Car: How Our Technology Choices Will Create the Future, Vivek Wadhwa not only explores the amazing technologies that are just now being integrated into our lives and work, but he also shares both the dilemmas and the solutions of technology advancement. Using his wonderfully vivid storytelling skills, he examines how Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Machines, Robotics, Synthetic Biology, etc. are impacting fields of healthcare, education, transportation, energy development, investment management and more, analyzing the huge benefits as well as the economic and social consequences He shares a three-pronged assessment that gauges whether a new technology will benefit everyone equally; whether the rewards outweigh the risks; and whether it promotes autonomy or leads to dependency.

Alongside a balanced evaluation of the impacts of both recently arrived technology or developments just around the corner, Vivek examines:

  • How driverless cars are a perfect metaphor for our anxiety over where technology is headed

  • What conditions make services or sectors ripe for a giant leap into the future

  • Which industries stand to benefit most, and which will be upended

  • Why Artificial Intelligence is both the most important breakthrough and the most dangerous technology ever created by man

  • When, and if, society will accept robotic caregivers, housekeepers, and even warriors

  • Whether cybersecurity can begin to keep up with our ubiquitous connectivity

This might be the most fascinating speech you will ever experience regarding our future.

Not long ago, you could see your competition coming. Management guru Clayton Christensen coined the term “disruptive innovation” to describe how the 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, healthcare, 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 underway 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.

Areas of expertise

  • Biotechnology
  • Business Growth/Strategy/Trends
  • Energy – Alternative & Technology
  • Healthcare
  • Information Technology
  • Innovation
  • Finance
  • Science
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