About Byron Reese - Futurist, Technologist, Entrepreneur:
As a successful entrepreneur and award-winning futurist, Byron Reese employs his perspective as a historian, futurist, and technologist to illuminate how the technology of today can solve some of our most daunting global challenges. A highly sought after keynote speaker, enlightening attendees across nations, Byron is an in demand forward thinker in his field. Speaking across the globe, he brings great enthusiasm and talent for deciphering our common destiny and unlocking business opportunities within it.
As a futurist, he understands the unprecedented technological change upon us and explores the dramatic transformation of society it will bring. As a technologist and entrepreneur, he knows how to manage change and inspire innovation, while still meeting the immediate obligations and realities of operating a business.
Byron’s keynotes and appearances include SXSW, TEDx Austin, fortune 1000 companies (Dell Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, Oticon, Swisslog) and universities (University of Texas, Queen’s University, TWU, Rice) and futurist conferences (PICNIC Festival in Amsterdam, Wolfram Data Summit, and the IEEE Conference) among others.
Byron set up his first business as an undergraduate at Rice University. He later founded and sold two high-tech companies: Hot Data, ultimately to Pitney Bowes; and PageWise to Demand Media. Today Byron is the CEO and publisher of Gigaom, one of the world’s leading technology research companies; has obtained or has pending numerous patents in disciplines as varied as crowdsourcing, content creation, and psychographics.
In addition to serving in a wide range of senior management roles, from CEO, to VP of Marketing, to Chief Innovation Officer, Byron has produced a diverse body of patented work, and given dozens of talks to both technical and non-technical audiences around the world.
What Byron Reese Talks About:
Automation, AI, And The Future of Work
How will automation reshape the workplace? Will robots take all the jobs? Will artificial intelligence displace human intelligence? Are we destined to a future where we work harder and harder for less and less?
Futurist, author and technologist, Byron Reese dispels the fearful myths around these topics and describes a world where workers of all skill levels use new technology to increase their own productivity.
Byron explains, “Technology will continue to transform the workplace. That is certain. But it will do so by making humans more valuable. The biggest problems of tomorrow will not be a lack of jobs, but a shortage of humans to take advantage of all of the opportunities technology will offer.”
While much of this talk focuses on how technology will reshape the workplace, Byron pays special attention to what workers can do today to maximize their productivity tomorrow. “A few simple rules,” he explains, “will help anyone position themselves to prosper in the world of tomorrow.”
“Workers today should be no more fearful of AI and robots than our great grandparents should have been fearful of mechanization and electricity. Those devices changed the workplace, but they did so by empowering workers, not replacing them. This is what will happen this time as well.” - Byron Reese
Robots And Jobs
Daily, the media greets readers with a variant of “THE ROBOTS ARE COMING FOR YOUR JOB!” The logic is simple: Everyday robots get smarter, learn faster, and they will never ask for a raise. But Byron believes this simplistic reasoning is entirely wrong. "Just as electricity and the assembly line weren’t bad for workers, in spite of shrill predictions otherwise, AI and robots won’t be either," he says. "In fact, they will create so many new jobs that our bigger problem will be a labor shortage."
Sharing insights from his recent book, "The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers and the Future of Humanity," released in April 2018 by Atria, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Byron invites us to explore the many advances leading to today's technological age, and then to consider the vast possibilities of the future, the coming Fourth Age.
What skills will be useful to have in the future? Which technologies should we adopt? How will technology affect the workplace, the home, and society in general?
Answering these questions, Byron suggests that the future is not going to be a frightening place where humans become displaced, but rather "one in which the things that make us human become incredibly valuable. We are entering a world of more choice and more opportunity than ever before," says Byron, and "the best response is to expand our dreams and expectations, not our fears and concerns."
How To Innovate In A Rapidly Changing World
No matter your industry, you probably have a sense that you are in one of those radical disruptive periods where everything seems to be changing. You may be wondering when it is all going to settle down so you can take a bit of a breather.
In this talk, Byron explores how businesses operating in industries undergoing dramatic changes can prosper and be successful. While traditional futurists seldom bridge the gap between “here is what is going to happen” and “here is how you capitalize on it,” Byron explores how it is that radical technology advancement creates new multi-billion dollar companies, and destroys old ones.
What would you have foreseen seven years ago? There were no self-driving cars or Apple watches. Would you have seen the transformative effect that tablets and smartphones would have? The next seven years will have much more change than the prior seven years. We know this. And this is the change for which we need to prepare.
The Fourth Age: Answering The Big Questions of Tomorrow
Our present age is grappling with big questions around technology: What is really possible with artificial intelligence? Should we fear it or welcome it? Will robots take all the jobs, and if they did, would that be a good thing? Can computers achieve consciousness, and if so, do they then acquire rights?
In a talk from his most recent book, "The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity," Byron identifies these as fundamentally philosophical, not technical, questions. Instead of telling the audience what he thinks, he teaches them how to apply their own beliefs and values to them to come up with their own answers.
Byron then proceeds to tell the story of technology over the last 100,000 years, focusing on three times in the past when we created a technology so profound that it permanently altered our bodies and minds, changing the trajectory of human history in a dramatic way. Byron believes that humanity is about to be so transformed a fourth time, due to artificial intelligence and robots.
"As humans progressively “outsource” our cognitive activity to computers and our physical activity to machines, once again we will be permanently changed, and in this Fourth Age, humanity will embark on the next stage of its evolution, towards a better world for everyone." - Byron Reese
This talk overflows with reasoned optimism and is suitable for all audiences, as its focus is not specific technologies, but how to think about technology.
The Coming Golden Age Of Humanity
The world has, throughout human history, changed. Almost always, this change is for the better. Through civilization, we have raised life expectancy, the standard of living, access to education, and political liberty. How has this change been brought about?
Byron explains the change is driven largely by the actions of individuals driven to change the world. This talk focuses on how that change happens and looks at how virtually any individual can literally have a worldwide effect on the history of the planet.
On this topic, Byron demonstrates how current technological changes will ultimately bring about the end of poverty, disease, hunger, ignorance, and war. Additionally, Byron explores how these historical problems of humanity are fundamentally problems of technology, and thus will have technological solutions, solutions we will find much sooner than is commonly believed.
Education In The 21st Century
How should education change? How will it? What skills will ensure that a person can economically contribute in a world of radical technological change?
In this talk, Byron answers these questions and explains that the University system is a 12th Century French invention that remains to this day largely unchanged from it origins in the Middle Ages. "Our K-12 system is a 19th Century German invention designed to produce homogenous factory workers," he says. "It too remains unchanged since the late 1800s. Now, we find ourselves in a world that has changed in ways no one expected. Now, the two most important job skills are the ability to independently learn new skills and working collaboratively with a team, neither of which are taught in our existing framework."
Byron kept the audience engaged throughout the presentation both through the thought provoking topics he discussed as well as the visual images he included
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