Techonomy founder David Kirkpatrick takes the stage at Techonomy 2012 in Tucson, Ariz., to talk about why the company chose to hold its first conference in Detroit earlier this year. Exhibit A is a video overview that shows off some of that event’s highlights. (Transcription by www.realtimetranscription.com.)
Kirkpatrick: So what we want to talk about briefly is our Techonomy Detroit event. Last year we said we were going to do an event in Detroit and we did. And the purpose of it was to reach out to a broader audience with the message about technology centrality, to business and social progress as we like to endlessly repeat. But especially in the context of the importance of that for the United States. We try to take a very global view here, but in Detroit we really aimed to make the point that the ideas about technology’s role need to be more incorporated into a dialogue about the future of the American economy. So we made a little video about it. And I’d like to show you that right now. And then I’ll just say one or two other words. Then we’ll get on to the program. But the video says a lot about what happened there. So let’s roll that video.
Kirkpatrick: We went to Detroit because in a lot of ways, it symbolizes the challenges faced by the United States which we think technology can really help with. We made a one-day instead of two-day event. We invited anyone who wanted to come. And we allowed a lot of students and others to come. We really aimed to have a broad impact on the thinking in Detroit and in the United States about how technology is going to affect economic growth and jobs.
Kaufman: We need to take all of the cool things that are happening in technology and community and Internet and all these things put it into the things that matter, the things that we touch and feel every day.
Case: There are huge sectors of the economy, education, healthcare, energy, that haven’t really been disrupted that much in the last 25 years, what I think of as the first Internet revolution, getting everybody to believe it was important, to get connected, multiple devices and multiple networks. That’s sort of been accomplished.
The second Internet revolution is how you use the ubiquity and now the mobility of the Internet to transform other important aspects of life.
Hatch: People are making a living by producing things in their basements or tech shop or in their living rooms and selling online.
Ringelmann: We actually think fundamentally that crowd funding is a social experience. And anyone who has not funded something that way or raised money that way does not understand that until they actually do it. Because you’re funding people. You’re not just funding ideas, but people.
Kirkpatrick: At Techonomy we like to say every company is a technology company. And that’s not just a rhetorical gamesmanship. We think that software is becoming to central to everything that happens in modern society that if a company doesn’t have its own software and technology development activities and doesn’t even at the CEO level think day in and day out about how technology is creating new opportunities and new challenges, that company is at risk.
Kundra: It makes absolutely no sense when we educate some of the smartest people in the world with advanced degrees and then ask them to leave the country and go start up companies elsewhere. Why aren’t we stapling right to their graduate application a Visa or a green card.
Linkner: Obviously there’s a huge challenge in Detroit public schools as throughout the country. To me, what I think we need to start doing is retooling our educational system for the current era because it’s an outdated system that was built 50 years ago.
Kirkpatrick: On the one hand, yes, we need more specific talents in engineering and software areas, and we need everyone to have a more familiar attitude towards using technology on the job. That’s not so hard. What’s really hard is creating more independent-minded thinkers who are capable of adapting quickly to change. That is what’s going to be required for employment in the coming years.
Dorsey: The amazing thing about technology is you can see effects immediately. So if you build something, you can actually see it in the world and see it working. Whereas, if you enact a policy within city government, it can take anywhere from four to eight years to actually see the result of it.
Change happens so slowly, so how can we actually speed up the change? And one way to speed up the change is to overcommunicate and make more available and more transparent the data of how the government is running, what needs to change and why it needs to change.
Kirkpatrick: It’s unacceptable for our leaders not to be talking and thinking very actively and aggressively all the time about how technology is going to help move us forward.
Linkner: Detroit specifically was born on the spirit of disruption.
Gilbert: I think the main thing here from the City of Detroit standpoint with Mayor Bing and the council is finally, finally, right, we are addressing the financial cloud that was overhead for years and decades that was never dealt with before.
Littlejohn: Detroit is a test case for what we can be if you listen to our politicians, what we should be and can be as Americans.
Kelly: I think Detroit is a great place for entrepreneurs. I think you can’t help but look around and if you are a certain type of person look for opportunities.
Snyder: It’s so great to have Techonomy come to Detroit. To help on the state’s entrepreneurial DNA.
Case: It’s not just about Detroit but the story of entrepreneurship in America and how it really is spread more broadly through the nation than we sometimes realize.
Kirkpatrick: We think it’s a great context for an ongoing discussion about the future of the U.S. economy. It’s not just about Detroit. It’s about America, and we will continue to do it in Detroit.
Kirkpatrick: So okay. Nice to have Steve in the audience, because the money quote in that whole video is uttered by you early on. So thank you for being so articulate and being there.
Like I said, and I say in the video, it was really about U.S. issues. As I mentioned on stage before, I’m not as sanguine about the U.S. economy as some. In any case, even if we are competitive with the rest of the world, we have this vast income divide here. We have huge problems with our educational system, as was discussed I think in the education session just now.
And, in fact, when we go back to Detroit next September, which we have decided to do firmly, and we have the governor’s support. The governor wasn’t there, but the reason he helped us with this video is because he’s really going to be involved next year. Education is going to be one of the key issues that we talk about. And I think it’ll really—there’s so many great issues that are more American in terms of what this country needs to be doing differently in a technologized age than we really want to talk about at this conference.
And I just want to say, all the content from Techonomy Detroit, all the video is available at techonomy.com. And so as I said, because it was so well received, we are definitely going to do it again. We’ve gotten a tremendous reaction in Detroit. And so that was a little bit of a report there.
Now, I want to just tell you some exciting news which is that all of you are going to be receiving one of these in the mail in the not-distant future from Dell, which is the new Latitude 10 tablet that will come preloaded with video, photos and other content from Techonomy 2012 that we will be editing and working with them to put in there. So we’re very excited about that. It’s a brand-new—this device isn’t even out yet, I don’t think. But it will be out by then, and we’re very excited.
And in terms of other giveaways, the next chair giveaway will be after the robot session, so you have a little more time to do the survey if you haven’t yet done that.
Click here for a complete video archive of Techonomy 2012.