Digital Jobs

eBay’s Devin Wenig on Tech’s Destruction … and Humanism

"While tech is sometimes thought of as a sector or a niche, it's increasingly clear that tech is the economy and tech is the transformative force," says Devin Wenig, president of eBay's global e-commerce business. As tech reinvents industries, jobs, and processes, and changes how people work and act, companies that want to succeed must learn to accept creative destruction. "Any time you go through a disruption, you end up with winners and losers," said Wenig, who joined us at a Techonomy dinner salon in San Francisco. "But I do believe it's a positive-sum game," he added. And he says that in this game, humans, not just machines, are winning. "I don't think the world coming is all full of drones and robots.... It can be amazingly humanistic," Wenig said.   More

Digital Life Science

63 Companies Bent on Transforming Healthcare

StartUp Health co-founder Unity Stoakes.

When serial entrepreneurs Unity Stoakes and Steven Krein set out to build a digital health company, they quickly discovered that entrepreneurs in the healthcare sector face a unique set of challenges: daunting regulations, privacy issues, long sales cycles, and industry-wide resistance to change. So they shifted their attention to creating a platform that lets healthcare entrepreneurs innovate more easily. With support from former Time Warner CEO Jerry Levin and other high-powered investors including Esther Dyson and Mark Cuban, in partnership with Steve Case’s Startup America, and with applause from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Stoakes and Krein established StartUp Health in 2011. Stoakes describes the company as part community, part knowledge base, and part academy offering a structured curriculum to help CEOs and founders, calling his audience “Healthcare Transformers.”   More

Digital Jobs

Is Inequality an Unavoidable Consequence of Innovation?

(Image via Shutterstock)

The economics of innovation and its impact on society was the theme of the annual economists' pow-wow in Toronto last weekend, the Institute for New Economic Thinking conference. And there was no presumption that it is, on the whole, a plus. Authoritative speakers at the three-day conference included former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, Nobel laureates Joseph Stiglitz and James Heckman, former co-CEO of Research In Motion Jim Balsillie, and Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane. But the event's opening keynote featured a panel of experts who explored the duality inherent in innovations that create new inventions, products, sources of demand, and markets while simultaneously imposing job losses and "significant distributional consequences for society."   More

Digital Government

U.S. Intelligence Community Supports Sharper Satellite Images

DigitalGlobe offers a range of high-resolution satellite images.

In the increasingly competitive business of satellite imaging, Colorado-based DigitalGlobe is getting a welcome boost from some powerful friends. U.S. government agencies, particularly those in the intelligence sector, have traditionally worried that allowing private companies such as DigitalGlobe to sell increasingly high-resolution images could undermine one of the government’s key strategic advantages on the geopolitical scene. However, in light of advances made by non-U.S. satellite imaging companies, the intelligence community is now supporting DigitalGlobe’s push to make those higher resolution images publicly available on the open market. Why? Market share and global competitiveness.   More

Digital

Kirkpatrick: Amazon Smartphone Move “Brilliant”

Come September, the hottest phone on the market might not be the iPhone, Galaxy, or Nexus, but a new 3D-capable smartphone developed by none other than Amazon. The Internet behemoth has been considering making a foray into the smartphone market, according to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal, and is likely to publicly announce plans in June and go to market as early as September. Techonomy's David Kirkpatrick spoke on Bloomberg Surveillance on Monday about Amazon's possible push into smartphones, calling the move "brilliant" and noting its potential for connecting customer relations with mobile payments. "If you were trying to keep an ongoing relationship for all kinds of commercial relationships with everybody, you have to have a phone," Kirkpatrick said. And for companies hoping to get a return from consumers, transactions are paramount.   More

Digital

McKinsey’s Michael Chui on How Tech Transforms the Economy

For insight into big emerging tech trends, look beyond Silicon Valley and Alley, said McKinsey's Michael Chui at a recent Techonomy dinner salon in San Francisco. The developing world is about to jump into the innovation economy. "Only half of the people that we can possibly connect in the world are actually connected." Once those people get connected, he believes, the world will see double the innovation it sees today, as potential innovators in now-developing countries get online. This expansion of connectivity will be enabled by the global mobile revolution, or what Chui called "the proliferation of form factors"—ranging from tablets and phablets to appliances and cars. Chui pointed to education, healthcare, and public services as sectors of the economy with the greatest potential to gain efficiency as they are transformed by tech.   More

Digital Life Science

Can Mobile Apps Heal American Healthcare?

(Image via Shutterstock)

What do smartphones have to do with medical care? Ask any doctor who has called in pharmacy prescriptions from a golf course, reviewed brain-imaging results in a taxi, or video-chatted with emergency room physicians in another city. Or ask PointClear Solutions, an Atlanta-headquartered custom healthcare software development company that recently acquired NYC-based app developer, Worry Free Labs (profiled here last summer). We did, when we spoke with PointClear CEO David Karabinos about the acquisition and the future of mobile apps for patient care.   More

Digital IoE

BlackBerry’s Chen: “This Is Not Science Fiction”

From advanced automation in the developed world to smart phone adoption in the developing world, global society is getting more information-driven at a mind-boggling rate. As John Chen says, "This is not science fiction. This is real-time stuff." Chen, the CEO of BlackBerry, sat down with Techonomy's David Kirkpatrick at our San Francisco dinner salon to talk about the future of tech and the trends he's seeing in markets around the world. Chen's longtime business leadership and experience both in the U.S. and Asia give him a unique perspective. In the developed world, Chen said, "all the players are talking about machine-to-machine, they're talking about connected cars, they're talking about making your life more automated." But in the developing world, Chen added, people are just starting to get into the consumer space. "More and more people are moving into the middle class, more and more people are knowledgeable, are trained," he said.   More

Digital Partner Insights

Making Sense of the Mainframe, 50 Years Later

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Computing has changed a lot in the last 50 years, but one 50-year-old technology remains significant. The durability of the mainframe illustrates the maxim that new technologies don't usually replace old ones, but rather coexist alongside them. When the IBM System 360 debuted on April 7, 1964, it was, in effect, the first general-purpose computer of any type. We don't call today's app-laden smartphones mainframes as we use them for everything from texting to watching Netflix movies, but they are the descendants of the 360. Meanwhile, real mainframes that use the basic architecture of the 360 are still essential in business. IBM's current-generation zEnterprise systems have extraordinary capabilities, and can manage 1.1 million transactions per second.   More

Digital

A Website That Attempts the Impossible

Impossible.com is showing us that doing kind acts for others—even perfect strangers—is in fact very much possible. The new online community, already established in the U.K. and currently launching in the U.S., aims to advance the gift economy by serving as a platform for transactionless giving and receiving—that is, people doing nice things for other people without expecting anything in return. Created by British model, actress, and brand ambassador Lily Cole, Impossible is meant to explore the social value of connecting through giving. Cole traveled to New York last month to promote Impossible, appearing on Charlie Rose alongside Techonomy’s David Kirkpatrick and Jonathan Zittrain, a professor at Harvard Law School and the co-founder of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.   More

Digital

Magisto’s A.I. Helps Anyone Produce Polished Video

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Magisto wants to do for video what Instagram did for photos—provide intuitive tools to edit and enhance them and make them easy to share. Founded in Israel in 2009 by two experts in computer vision and artificial intelligence, Magisto enables a user to simply select photos and videos on their smartphone, choose a visual theme, and automatically create a sophisticated edited product in minutes. There's a lot of computer science on the back end making that possible. Magisto launched in January 2012 at the Consumer Electronics Show, won an app competition there, and now has 20 million registered users worldwide, up from 3 million last year. With 30 employees, the company has offices in Tel Aviv, New York, and San Francisco. Techonomy sat down with Magisto CEO Oren Boiman for a wide-ranging talk about video, social media, and how people want to express themselves.   More

Digital

Jaron Lanier on Facebook and the Creepy Possibilities for Virtual Reality

(Flickr / The American Library Association)

When Facebook announced last week that it had agreed to acquire Oculus VR, “the leader in virtual reality technology,” for $2 billion, techies and journalists everywhere wondered: What does Jaron Lanier think of this? Lanier, the dreadlocked futurist now working at Microsoft Research, was a virtual reality pioneer—he coined the term. More recently, he’s been a prolific critic of so-called Web 2.0 companies like Google and Facebook, bucking very publicly against their business models in books like "Who Owns the Future?" The Fiscal Times spoke with Lanier this week to get more of his thoughts about the deal, Mark Zuckerberg’s vision, and the future of virtual reality. Among his insights: “The biggest variable as to how creepy Facebook will be in the future is whether Zuck has kids or not.”   More

Digital Life Science

Using Software to Program the Building Blocks of Life

Andrew Hessel (l) with Stewart Brand and Eri Gentry at Techonomy 2013 in Tucson, Ariz.

“What’s beautiful about software is that it makes complex jobs easy,” opines Andrew Hessel, a distinguished researcher at Autodesk, the software company best known for the design software, AutoCAD. What’s really beautiful about what Hessel and others at Autodesk are working on is what they’re building new design tools for—life itself. Hessel, who spoke at Techonomy’s November conferences in 2011 and 2013, sees the work Autodesk is involved in as a way to create greater access to the burgeoning field of synthetic biology and, along the way, turbocharge fields like energy and food production, manufacturing, and hopefully developing personalized, genetic-level tools for fighting, maybe even curing, things like cancer.   More

Digital

From Messaging to Gaming, Mark Zuckerberg Is Buying

Just five weeks after acquiring mobile messaging app WhatsApp (for a whopping $19 billion), Facebook announced Tuesday it plans to buy Oculus, the virtual reality headset startup that's been the talk of the town—the gaming town, that is—even though it has yet to send a single product to market. The $2 billion buyout includes 23.1 million shares of Facebook stock and $400 million in cash. Techonomy CEO and Bloomberg contributing editor David Kirkpatrick appeared on Bloomberg Surveillance Wednesday to talk about Facebook’s objectives in acquiring Oculus, both now and in the future. “They can win with this purchase,” Kirkpatrick said, adding that Oculus can help Facebook achieve its short-term goal of building a stronger gaming platform.   More

Business Digital

Techonomists Weigh in on Tech’s Future at Our San Francisco Salon

Techonomy hosted a salon dinner in San Francisco, in partnership with BlackBerry, and we took a few guests aside for further insight. We asked them, among other things, our usual—how is tech innovation changing society? Michael Chui of McKinsey Global Institute celebrated having such conversation in the Bay Area, noting its world-class universities and venture capitalists, adding up to a “cauldron of interpersonal connections” that spur innovation. But with more and more people coming online, Chui foresees developing countries playing an increasing role in a more global cauldron of innovation. BlackBerry’s John Chen thinks the future is in the machine-to-machine interconnectivity, as software and devices help make our lives “more automated, more information driven.”   More

Digital Startup Culture

SwiftKey CTO Debuts Our “Three Questions” Video Series

Techonomy hosted Ben Medlock, CTO and co-founder of Britain's SwiftKey, in our Manhattan offices for a short video interview. It was the first episode of a new online series we call "Three Questions from Techonomy." Medlock talked about his company, the growing importance of AI, and how tech is changing the world. This modest CTO has a company with outscale success—now on about 150 million smartphones globally, including most Samsung phones. His software autocompletes typing on the Android keyboard, and is the state of the art in keyboard technology. The company recently completed a $20 million funding round with venture capital firms Accel and Index Ventures.   More

Digital

Can Smart Cars Curb Road Rage?

Road rage 2

Road ragers beware. Get too angry behind the wheel and you'll have to answer to ... your own car? That's right, our vehicles may soon be able to detect our emotional states while driving, automatically limiting speeds or issuing warnings to calm down when we become too aggressive, according to Gizmodo. The in-car emotion detector, invented by a joint research team from the Swiss technical school École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and the French automaker PSA Peugeot Citroen, monitors stress levels by using an infrared camera to measure feelings of anger and disgust.   More

Digital

Are the Smart Machines Taking Over?

At CES this year, all the talk was about smart machines: smart cars, smart glasses, and, of course, smartphones. But should we be scared of these smart machines? Are they about to become too smart—so smart, indeed, that they are calling the shots? This was one of the most interesting audience questions at a keynote panel I moderated featuring Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg, Qualcomm CEO Dr. Paul Jacobs and AT&T’s SVP of Network Operations John Donovan. Interestingly enough, the panelists seemed less afraid of our networked future than the audience.   More

Digital

Spectrum, Spectrum, Spectrum: The Three Key Issues in The Future of Mobile Technology

At CES this year, I moderated a keynote panel featuring Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg, Qualcomm CEO Dr. Paul Jacobs, and AT&T’s SVP of Network Operations John Donovan. And the CES audience was pretty impressive too—including such luminaries as FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. After the formal discussion, Rosenworcel was the first to ask the panelists a question. “Do we have enough spectrum for mobile commercial use?” she asked. “And if we don’t, how can technologies like small cells help us use it more efficiently?” “Spectrum is the life blood of the industry” Donovan said, and “the oxygen for commerce.”   More

Business Digital

Will the Internet of Things Undermine Capitalism?

(Image via Shutterstock)

Jeremy Rifkin writes in the New York Times about the future of the collaborative, sharing, free economy, making some original new points. Most notably, he argues that because the Internet of Things will radically accelerate the growth of sharing and efficiency, it will implicitly lead to a reduction in capitalism itself and a further rise in the importance of non-profit institutions. The rise of "free goods," tackled directly at Techonomy 2012 by MIT economist Erik Brynolffson, is in Rifkin's opinion now going to extend well beyond the digital and virtual (where things like Gmail, this website, and innumerable other free opportunities are available). Rifkin argues that capitalism, while it has a future, will become a "niche" part of the economy. Philanthropy and NGOs may become much more central to all of our notions of social leadership and economic health.   More