We aim to highlight the most fraught and interesting tech-infused developments at our annual conference, coming up November 11-13 near San Francisco. This year, along with numerous other provocative topics, we will strongly examine the extent and impact of automation in business and society.
Daniel Dines, CEO of UiPath (at right and see accompanying story), is leading what may be the most transformational new enterprise software company in a while. He’ll do one of his first-ever public interviews at our event. It is all about bringing automation to everyone—UiPath says “a robot for every human.” (He means software robots—read the story.)
Rodney Brooks brought us the Roomba robotic home vacuum and numerous other groundbreaking physical robots in his work at iRobot and Rethink Robotics. Mary Lou Jepsen is pioneering new ways to blend human thinking and computing. They’ll both speak on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, we’ve put together the authors of two of the most important and influential recent books about what AI means. Kai-Fu Lee wrote AI Superpowers, and Paul Daugherty co-wrote Human + Machine. Both argue that our future will not be one in which people are left helpless before the all-powerful machines, but that we have to make major changes in our companies and societies to accommodate the inevitable onrush of automation. This set of changes also has major geopolitical implications, as Lee, who lives in Beijing, is acutely aware.
But in the rollout of all these groundbreaking tools, there is acute and growing awareness that we face major societal risks. The perils encountered unexpectedly by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube underscore that no longer can technology just get deployed so we can see what happens. Paula Goldman of Omidyar Network (at left) has helped create an ethical operating system for tech, to help imbue the tech industry with this awareness. Terah Lyons is heading an industry consortium called the Partnership on AI that brings together practitioners to wrestle with these questions.
Meanwhile, we’ve partnered with Intelligence Squared debates for one on the proposition “Silicon Valley has Lost its Soul.” Tech journalist and author Noam Cohen, who covers the influence of digital technologies on global culture and the economy, teams up with Harvard’s Dipayan Ghosh, who led strategic efforts to address privacy and security at Facebook and served as a technology adviser in the Obama White House, to argue for the motion. They’ll face Silicon Valley historian and author Leslie Berlin and technologist Joshua McKenty, the founding chief architect of NASA Nebula and current VP of the systems advisory group at Pivotal. The debate will be livestreamed from our home page, November 11, at 8:30 p.m. EST.
Deploying, understanding, and putting into an ethical and cultural context the developments in AI, automation, and the internet is one of society and business’ biggest challenges. It’s central to what we’ll discuss at Techonomy, November 11-13 in Half Moon Bay, California.  See the full agenda.