Robots are going to take our jobs, they say. I say, “Only if that’s what we ask them to do!” I’ve had my fill of technological determinism. Technology is the solution to human problems, and we won’t run out of work till we run out of problems. Entrepreneurs need to set their sights on how we can use big data, sensors, and AI to create amazing human experiences and the economy of the future, making us all richer in the same way the tools of the first industrial revolution did. Yes, technology can eliminate labor and make things cheaper, but at its best, we use it to do things that were previously unimaginable. What is our poverty of imagination? What are the entrepreneurial leaps that will allow us to use the technology of today to build a better future, not just a more efficient one?
Tim O’Reilly has a history of convening conversations that reshape the computer industry. In 1998, he organized the meeting where the term “open source software” was agreed on and helped the business world understand its importance. In 2004, with the Web 2.0 Summit, he defined how “Web 2.0” represented not only the resurgence of the web after the dot-com bust but a new model for the computer industry, based on big data, collective intelligence, and the internet as a platform. In 2009, with his Gov 2.0 Summit, Tim framed the conversation about the modernization of government technology that has shaped policy and spawned initiatives at the federal, state, and local levels and around the world. He has now turned his attention to implications of the on-demand economy, AI, robotics, and other technologies that are transforming the nature of work and the future shape of the economy. He shares his thoughts about these topics in his new book, WTF? What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us (Harper Business, October 2017). Tim is the founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media and a partner at O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures (OATV). He sits on the boards of Maker Media (which was spun out from O’Reilly Media in 2012), Code for America, PeerJ, Civis Analytics, and POPVOX.
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