The Shock and Awe of Techonomy 2015

Techonomy 2015 is done, and we’re all still resonating with the thinking that emanated from that packed stage in Half Moon Bay. Links in this post go to the videos of various sessions and you can go directly to the full menu on the conference report page. The video above is one of the most noteworthy sessions, a surprising conversation called Gods In Boxes, about the values that underlie the algorithms that surround us.

The program book for the Techonomy2015 conference.

One of the most amazing sessions at TE15–called “Gods in Boxes”, about algorithms and values.

 

Techonomy 2015 is done, and we’re all still resonating with the thinking that emanated from that packed stage in Half Moon Bay. Links in this post go to the videos of various sessions and you can go directly to the full menu on the conference report page. We talked about how values have to evolve as Technology dominates ever more of our lives, the implications of a shift to a digital society, and numerous other topics, including the future of food, artificial intelligence and its intersection with the human brain, virtual and augmented reality, quantum computing, and then the quotidian challenge of how to run organizations and companies can take advantage of all these dizzying changes and not be sidelined by them.

A powerful session explored how to think about the values that underlie the algorithms that dominate more and more of our lives. Facebook’s Adam Mosseri, who heads the news feed, explained the values that underlie that particularly central piece of modern societal software. DARPA Director Arati Prabhakar ranged widely in an interview about how her Defense Department innovation agency thinks about neuroscience, cybersecurity, the future of war, and many other things. CEOs John Chen of Blackberry and Bernard Tyson of Kaiser Permanente talked about the challenges of continuous innovation and the daunting requirements of being CEO.

Scientist and VR pioneer Jaron Lanier talked with VC Steve Jurvetson and neuroscientist and philosopher Sir Colin Blakemore to finish out the day on Monday. And the conference ended with a wide-ranging conversation with Marc Benioff and Adam Bosworth of Salesforce. It focused on the growing centrality of the Internet of Things as a transformative force. But it ended with a discussion of why Benioff recently adjusted the pay of women across the company, and why Equality needs to become a core corporate value of companies that retain credibility in the rapidly-evolving economy. Transparency brings a new set of demands on business, and Benioff is rising to the challenge unlike the CEO of just about any other major company.

Other themes included the complicated challenges for business in an age of mobility, the evolving challenge of continuous innovation, what we can learn from nature as we invent new technologies and products, how media is changing, and the digitized future of crime–and catching criminals.

It’s going to take some time to process it all. And maybe we can’t. There’s just too much going on these days to understand it all. But we’re proud that we put so many aspects of the wonders and challenges of modern business and social life into one rich program.

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