What’s Now: San Francisco

  • July 27, 2017
  • The Applied Innovation Exchange, 425 Brannan Street San Francisco, CA 94107
  • The Applied Innovation Exchange | event map


A monthly speaking series at the Applied Innovation Exchange.

What's Now: San Francisco


What’s Now: San Francisco is a monthly conversation about the most important innovations emerging in the San Francisco Bay Area right now. Every month Capgemini’s Applied Innovation Exchange will host a remarkable person who deeply understands one of the many areas exploding with innovation.


For more on the What’s Now: San Francisco speaker series, please visit the website.

Recent Conversations:

Date/Time: July 27, 2017Sunil Paul
Speaker: Ken Goldberg, Professor, UC Berkeley

At July’s What’s Now: San Francisco, Ken Goldberg will take on those who are churning up fears of a near future where half of all current jobs are taken over by robots and powerful AI—let alone a slightly more distant future where robots rule over us. Ken doesn’t buy into the prevailing robot panic of our times. His experience running a robotics lab suggests that AI and robots will empower humans, not replace them. “The important question is not when machines will surpass human intelligence, but how humans can work together with them in new ways.” Ken will start the discussion with a presentation that explains what’s really going on in the field now, and why he expects the field to move towards a more benign future, with plenty of time for Ken to engage in deep conversation with those gathered who might have different experiences and perspectives when it comes to robots and AI.

Click Here for more information on the upcoming session and how you can attend.

Singularity or Multiplicity? Envisioning a Benign Robot Future

Date/Time: June 20, 2017Sunil Paul
Speaker: Sunil Paul, Co-Founder of Sidecar

Sunil Paul took his first ride in an autonomous vehicle (AV) in 2009—at least a decade before most of will have the opportunity. That ride inspired to think about the future of transportation. Just two years later, in 2011, Sunil co-founded Sidecar, where he also served as CEO. Sidecar invented the modern ride-sharing model, operated in Ten U.S. Cities and gave millions of rides before selling the company assets to GM in 2016. Now an unencumbered thought leader in the transportation space, Sunil has devoted his time to thinking about the future of AVs and transportation in general. During this enlightening and provocative evening at the June What’s Now, Sunil offered an engaging look into the future of transportation.

Click Here to view the session.

Autonomous Vehicles and the Future of Transportation with Sunil Paul

Date/Time: May 24, 2017
Speaker: Andrew Hessel, Distinguished Research Scientist, Autodesk Life Sciences

New biomedical technologies are on the cusp of dramatically impacting not only healthcare and how we treat disease, but life itself. Visionary biologist, Andrew Hessel, spoke at our May What’s Now: San Francisco session exploring the extraordinary potential—and potential drawbacks—of gene editing and 3D printing in the field of biotech. Scientists talk about the possibility of designing humans and other organisms in the near future – for better or for worse – as humans gain god-like powers to essentially self-evolve. If this sounds like science fiction, it is—but probably not for long. Serious scientists like Andrew Hessel are working to make these and other eye-popping new technologies real.

Click Here to view the entire speaking session.

Just for You: 3D-Printed Tissues & Other Biotech Wonders

Date/Time: April 20, 2017&
Speaker: Brian Behlendorf, Executive Director of the Hyperledger Project

Many people have heard of bitcoin and might know something about blockchain, the technology system underlying the crypto currency. Yet few people understand how important blockchain technology could be not just for financial tech, but also for almost every other field. No one understands the vast potential of blockchain better than Brian Behlendorf. Brian is the newly appointed executive director of Hyperledger, an open source blockchain platform started by The Linux Foundation last year. Brian lead the discussion on blockchain at our April What’s Now: San Francisco.

Click Here to view Brian's full presentation.

Blockchain Beyond Bitcoin with Brian Behlendorf


Date/Time: March 29, 2017
Speaker: Paul Hawken, Executive Director of Project Drawdown

Can we stop global warming in the next 30 years? According to renowned environmentalist Paul Hawken, the answer is yes. We can keep the temperature of the Earth from rising past the critical mark of two degrees Celsius and actually draw down carbon out of the atmosphere to reverse the warming by 2050. We were privileged to have the opportunity to host the first public event around the book launch of Project Drawdown, which was our best-attended What’s Now event ever and ended in a standing ovation for Paul.

Click Here to view Paul's full presentation.

Paul Hawken Presents the World’s First Comprehensive Plan to Reverse Global Warming

Date/Time: February 9, 2017
Speaker: Steven Johnson, Bestselling Author & host of the PBS series "How We Got to Now"

Humans are bad at long-term decision-making – yet we need it more today than ever before. Steven Johnson, the bestselling author of ten books on science, tech, and the history of innovation including Ghost Map, Where Good Ideas Come From, and How We Got To Now, is now applying his mind toward helping drive some innovation into long-term decision-making. At February’s What’s Now: San Francisco, Steven laid out in public for the first time his thinking about his next book on long-term decision-making. Steven talked about the importance of engaging a diversity of stakeholders in collective decision-making, and referenced studies suggesting diversity trumps ability. He talked about his own experience wrestling with the pros and cons of the decision whether or not to move his family from Brooklyn to the Bay Area, and on a larger scale, discussed the extensive decision-making process that culminated in the successful raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in 2011. Steven referenced developments in weather forecasting and randomized controlled trials in medicine, both of which rely on simulations, as examples of progress in deliberative decision-making over the last 40 years in tools and methods that help improve deliberative decision-making.

Click Here to watch Steven’s entire presentation.

Improving Long-term Decision-Making in Tweet Time with Steven Johnson

Date/Time: January 19, 2017
Speaker: Jen Pahlka, Founder & Executive Director of Code for America & Tim O’Reilly, Founder & CEO, O'Reilly Media

The Bay Area tech community, like much of the rest of the country, is still grappling with what Trump’s election will mean for the future of the United States. Jen Pahlka and Tim O’Reilly led this difficult and important conversation during our January What’s Now: San Francisco event. The founder and Executive Director of Code for America, Jen served as U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer from June 2013 to June 2014 and co-founded the USDS. Tim O’Reilly was a pioneer in the Gov. 2.0 movement in the decade leading into the Obama years. Jen and Tim discussed the role that technologists passionate about civil service can play in the next four years.

Click Here to watch Jen Pahlka and Tim O'Reilly discuss this in-depth.

Reimagining the Digital Reform of Gov't in the Trump Era with Jen Pahlka & Tim O'Reilly

Date/Time: November 15, 2016 
Speaker: Gavin Newsom, Lieutenant Governor of California

The 2016 election results will have major repercussions for the San Francisco Bay Area, the tech sector, the innovation economy, California, not to mention the nation and the world. One week after the election, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom analyzed what really happened, what opportunities have now opened up, and what the best strategies are going forward. At the November session of What’s Now: San Francisco, we drew a cross-section of leading innovators from many fields to pool insights and think through the implications of the 2016 election.
Click Here to watch Gavin’s entire session.

The Election’s Impact on Innovation with Gavin Newsom

Date/Time: October 18, 2016
Speaker: Nick Pinkston, Founder & CEO, Plethora

The digital revolution has thoroughly transformed everything to do with information, and we’re now in the early stages of the digital revolution transforming the world of material things. Makers of today are like the hackers of the 1990s, who did the experimentation and early innovation that prefigured the information and media world we take for granted now. Today’s makers are roughing out innovative new processes that dramatically collapse the time it takes to manufacture goods, and open that process up to anybody who wants to make anything at any time. In our October What’s Now: San Francisco event, Nick Pinkston, co-founder of one of San Francisco’s most intriguing next-generation manufacturing firms, Plethora, explained what’s happening in this new industrial revolution and reflected on the coming repercussions.

Click Here to watch Nick’s entire session.

The Maker Movement and the Next Manufacturing Revolution

Date/Time: September 22, 2016
Speaker: Jane McGonigal, Director of Games Research & Development, Institute for the Future

At the fourth What’s Now gathering at Capgemini’s Applied Innovation Exchange, Jane McGonigal, world-renowned game designer and bestselling author, shared the latest in her ground-breaking body of work. Jane believes that Pokemon Go has created super-empowered hopeful individuals around physical activity and social interaction. She outlined the neurological research about the benefits of play, and discussed the success of Pokemon Go. Jane’s most recent project involves incorporating gaming into political action through a new form of social canvassing. This game, which launches October 10th, explores whether the same neuroscience that turns Pokemon Go players into super-empowered hopeful individuals can be replicated to draw out these traits in order to increase political engagement.

Click Here to watch Jane’s full speaking session.

Gaming Our Way to a Better Future with Jane McGonigal

Date/Time: July 28, 2016 
Speaker: Saul Griffith, Co-Founder & CEO, Otherlab

Saul Griffith, co-founder and CEO of Otherlab, presented for the first time an interactive wall-sized map detailing America’s daily energy use at the July gathering of What’s Now: San Francisco at Capgemini's Applied Innovation Exchange. Saul and his Otherlab team aggregated data from a wide range of obscure databases and created a dynamic visualization that shows the flow of energy through the entire American economy and society.

Every day the average American uses the same amount of energy that he or she would get from eating 1,000 cheeseburgers. That’s the equivalent of all Americans consuming 320 billion burgers worth of energy every 24 hours.

Watch Saul Griffith’s entire presentation here:

1,000 Cheeseburgers: A New Map of America’s Daily Energy Use with Saul Griffith

Date/Time: June 16, 2016
Speaker: Kevin Kelly, Senior Maverick, WIRED

The second gathering of What’s Now: San Francisco was held at the Applied Innovation Exchange in San Francisco and featured Kevin Kelly, Senior Maverick at WIRED magazine. Kevin Kelly is one of the most original thinkers in the San Francisco Bay Area, and he has spent much of his life seeking out other cutting edge innovators in the region. He has written several influential books and found several influential ventures, from the Hackers Conference, to The Well, to Cool Tools. In his new book, The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future, Kevin gives early insight into many critical fields exploding in activity throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, including two he has been particularly obsessed with - artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Kevin didn’t just want to use his What’s Now gathering to talk about his book and answer questions. Kevin wanted to “probe the hive mind” of all the innovative brains who gathered that night. We had technology on hand that allowed everyone to instantaneously answer Kevin’s questions and collectively learn from the group during this fun and informative evening.

Click Here to watch Kevin Kelly’s entire speaking session at What’s Now: San Francisco.

Date/Time: May 16, 2016
Speaker: John Battelle, Co-Founder & CEO- NewCo. 

John Battelle was the perfect featured speaker to kick off the What’s Now: San Francisco series. John was the founding managing editor of WIRED magazine, just a few blocks away from the San Francisco Exchange. As co-founder of the Web 2.0 Summit, he helped reboot the tech industry with a new narrative after the dotcom crash. John has launched half a dozen media startups, including his latest, NewCo Platform.

John laid out his ideas on the evolution of yesterday’s startups and spoke on the big-picture story of the Bay Area tech boom, while providing new insights into one of the region’s key drivers of innovation. John sees the tech story as receding in importance, he believes the defining features of tech startups are now moving into the broader economy and transforming business culture. The timing of this shift could not be more fortuitous, according to John, given mounting challenges ranging from inequality to climate change.


Click below to view highlights of John Battelle at What’s Now: San Francisco

Learn More

For more information of our Applied Innovation Exchange, visit the website.
Capgemini contact: Adam Weir