Each month at What’s Now: San Francisco we explore cutting edge innovation that’s happening in a different field in the region. This month we’re looking at innovation happening not in a field, but a scene that most people don’t know about.
For more on Capgemini’s What’s Now: San Francisco speaker series and how to attend, please visit the Reinvent Website
Practical Policy Plans for Solving Climate Change Now
Date: November 28, 2018
Time: 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM PST
Speaker: Hal Harvey, CEO of Energy Innovation
Almost two years ago environmentalist Paul Hawken used a What’s Now: San Francisco event to launch Project Drawdown that identified 100 of the best ways to pull carbon out of the atmosphere and start to reverse global warming. In our November 28th What’s Now event, energy expert Hal Harvey takes the next step by laying out the best policies that could be enacted right now to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deal with climate change. Harvey, CEO of Energy Innovation, is one of the field’s most respected thought leaders who is known for giving practical, realistic advice about climate policy to government officials, cities, states, utilities, and energy-conscious businesses. He now is co-author of the new book Designing Climate Solutions which outlines 10 important policies in all the key areas impacting climate – how to transform the electric grid, transportation systems, building efficiencies and land use, among others.
Now that America and the world are getting beyond the debate about whether climate change exists, we are entering an even more complicated conversation about what exactly to do about it. Few people are as well positioned to lead that conversation than Hal Harvey. He spent a decade as founder and CEO of the Energy Foundation, a philanthropy supporting policy solutions that advance renewable energy and energy efficiency. He then helped establish Energy Foundation China, the European Climate Foundation, and the Indian Sustainable Energy Foundation. Just this year he was honored with the United Nations’ Clean Air and Climate Change Award. He will use our What’s Now to give us a presentation of what he has learned over the years and distilled in his book, including some clear do’s and don’t.
One of his biggest pieces of advice is don’t wait for government bodies to eventually force everyone to act. Focus on being the first to take advantage of the huge opportunities opening up. We expect to have representatives from the utilities sector at the gathering and so we’ll look closely at how to accelerate decarbonizing the grid and electrifying everything. Harvey argues utilities will need to become more like energy services rather than energy producers rewarded by how much capital they invest. But, as always, we expect our conversation with those gathered will bring up other points of view. Join us to find out.
Will China Supersede Silicon Valley in the Next Era of AI?
Date: November 14, 2018
Time: 6.30 PM ET
Speaker: Kai-Fu Lee, Chairman and CEO of Sinovation Ventures
From the very beginning, the history of artificial intelligence has been dominated by the United States, and Silicon Valley in particular. Americans are great at out-of-the-box thinking, blue sky innovation, creating fundamentally new technologies where none existed before. Now that AI is starting to show up in practical applications impacting work and life, you’d expect American companies to keep leading the way – and you just might be wrong. Kai-Fu Lee, our guest at the next What’s Now: San Francisco, thinks China is poised to supersede the United States and lead the way into the next era of AI. Lee makes a compelling case that China is better positioned to drive the practical applications of AI through the economy. There are a variety of reasons for this, ranging from massive support from the Chinese government, easy access to much greater amounts of digital data, and the hype-competition of Chinese entrepreneurs who are not afraid to copy good ideas and quickly apply them in incrementally new ways. Lee will lay out the full case at our event and build off the argument he makes in his new book AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order.
There are few people in the world in a better position to make such a controversial argument. Lee migrated from Taiwan as a child, attended top tech schools in the United States, and has held leadership positions in the elite strata of tech companies, including Apple, Microsoft and Google. He founded Microsoft Research China, which trained many of today’s AI leaders in China, and he was President of Google China until 2009, when he founded Sinovation Ventures, a VC firm managing $1.7 billion in dual-currency investment funds. He is investing in many of the next generation Chinese tech companies that he will talk about. Lee will be traveling from China to the San Francisco Bay Area and will anchor a conversation with our community, including many locals working in AI who might challenge his argument. Join us for an important conversation about the next era of computing that has high stakes implications for the global economy. Tickets are free but space is limited. We expect this event to quickly fill out. But anyone will be able to watch the livestream.
Capgemini and their Applied Innovation Exchange is our partner for this series. This event is free but requires advance registration through an invite. If you are interested in attending, email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you can’t attend in person, the event will be streamed here starting at 6:30pm ET.
Could Tech Rethink the Value of Data and Who Profits from It?
Date: September 13, 2018
Time: 6.30 PM PT
Speaker: Mariana Mazzucato, Author and Professor of Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London
One way to understand the plight of the tech world right now is to pull back and understand the field of economics in the last 400 years. For much of that time the field has debated where value in the economy actually comes from – such as land, labor, capital. And crucially, what the difference is between value creation and value extraction. According to economist Mariana Mazzucato, our featured guest at September’s What’s Now: San Francisco, it is necessary first to publicly debate what types of activities really add value to our economy—and how to limit rent-seeking that passes for wealth creation– so that we can create a new form of capitalism that works for us all, including in the tech industry.
In just the last 15 years the tech world has emerged as the most valuable industry in the world with tech companies dominating the commanding heights of the global economy – led by Apple, the world’s first trillion dollar public company. The founders, venture capitalists, and shareholders of these companies are financially engorged – but facing huge public backlash as the latest examples of an economic system way out of balance. Tech defenders say the companies are just working within the existing economic system – but what if they now helped change the system for good?
Mazzucato – winner of the 2018 Leontief Prize for Advancing Economic Thought, and author of the new book The Value of Everything: Makers and Takers in the Global Economy, which has been longlisted for the esteemed Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award – says one way the tech world can usher in an economic transition is by rethinking who should own and manage data. The privatization of data to serve corporate profits rather than the common good increases economic inequality by skewing access to the profits generated from big data. Mazzucato traces the problem back to how value is understood in the economy, with anything that has a price deemed as valuable, rather than the characteristics of the process by which it is created and distributed. The American people, in the form of taxpayers, funded the foundational research that led to the development of key technology breakthroughs – like the internet, computer chips, and GPS – that the tech companies used to create their platforms. Why are the founders, VCs and shareholders the only ones to reap the financial benefits? She argues that the people, the consumers of services provided by Google and Facebook, are the ones who collectively helped produce it and should benefit from its successes. Mazzucato argues that we should rework the economic system to spread the value being generated around differently – to make private data into a public good. And the tech world can help lead the way into this next economic era.
Join us for this provocative and timely conversation led by Mazzucato, who will be visiting the Bay Area from London, where she is Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London, and Founder and Director of the university’s new Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose. She’s a frequent commentator in the media and advisor to companies and looks forward to engaging the tech and innovation world in California.
How the Tech World is now Transforming the Sports World
Date and Time: July 18, 2018; 6.30 PM PT
Speaker: Chris Kelly – CEO of Organizer, Former Chief Privacy Officer of Facebook
The NBA, more than any other professional sports league, has attracted owners from the tech world, built super high-tech stadiums, and adopted big-data analytics and other innovative technology tools to run the business. Our July What’s Now: San Francisco, done in partnership with Capgemini at their Applied Innovation Exchange, will feature Chris Kelly, one of the major owners who bought the Kings in 2013 and who now sits on the Executive Board. Chris was Facebook’s first Chief Privacy Officer, first General Counsel, and Head of Global Public Policy who helped take the startup from its college roots to one of the most successful companies in the world.
How are technology and innovative management techniques changing the NBA and all professional sports? The Bay Area has been a hotbed of pioneering new approaches, from the San Francisco Giants use of dynamic pricing to fill its stadium to the Oakland A’s use of computer analytics to find great players on the cheap – made famous in the movie Moneyball. What can we expect next? Join us and find out.
Stewart Brand on the Whole Earth Catalog’s Long Legacy over 50 years
Date and Time: June 7, 2018; 6.30 PM PT
Speaker: Stewart Brand
Fifty years ago the Whole Earth Catalog burst onto the cultural scene and helped set in motion waves of innovation that reverberated through the San Francisco Bay Area and the rest of America – and that continue to this day. The one-and-only Stewart Brand was the creative force behind that unique media publication and cultural phenomenon and we’re honored that he’s going to talk about the Whole Earth’s intellectual and entrepreneurial legacy at the June gathering of What’s Now: San Francisco.
What Responsible Innovation Means in this New Tech Era
Date and Time: May 22, 2018; 6.30 PM PST
Speaker: Julie Hanna
What have we wrought? Many in the tech community are increasingly pondering that question in the past year as public scrutiny roams from election hacking on Facebook to #metoo charges in the Valley. One tech veteran has been thinking about what tech has wrought longer than most and has developed some ideas about what could be done about some of these unintended consequences. Julie Hanna has founded and been a founding executive of five venture-backed startups (including Healtheon, now WebMD), and currently is an advisor to X (formerly Google X) and Executive Chair of the Board Kiva, to name just some of what she does. She has spent a lot of time thinking about purpose-driven profit, values-based leadership and what responsible innovation in this era of technology means.
Funding the Blockchain Revolution to Build More Momentum
Date and Time: April 26, 2018; 5.30 PM PST
Speaker: E. David Ellington
Interest in new blockchain technologies has exploded in the last year as the possibilities for applications keep rapidly expanding. One way to understand the blockchain revolution is through a technical discussion – something we did early in our What’s Now: San Francisco series with Brian Behlendorf. This month we will look at the financial side of blockchain – how those with money are wading into the space and how the revolution can get funded better and really scale up. The conversation will be led by E. David Ellington, the founder of the Silicon Valley Blockchain Society (SVBS), which has a simple three-word mission: Fund The Revolution.
A Positive Vision of the Future of Work
Date and Time: March 28, 2018 5.30 PM PST
Speaker: Marco Zappacosta
What the world needs now is a positive vision of the future of work. We’ve got plenty of dystopian visions of the rise of the robots, the race to the bottom of globalization, and the loss of myriad jobs on the horizon. Marco Zappacosta, the young co-founder and CEO of Thumbtack thinks we now need more positive thinking about how the next economy could work better for everyone.
Marco and his team have been collecting all kinds of data that help explain how the economy and nature of work has evolved over the last several decades and where the trendlines are pointing. He has developed a stunning presentation that he will lay out at the next What’s Now: San Francisco in the hopes that it will stimulate a deeper conversation with those we will gather from inside the sharing and gig economies, as well as those from other fields.
Join us for an important conversation and an entertaining evening – or watch the livestream from afar.
The VC-Funded Dotcom Disruption of Outer Space
Date and Time: March 1, 2018 5.30 PM PST
Speakers: Jonny Dyer and Dr. Ed Lu
We’ve got another dotcom disruption taking place in—of all places—outer space. There was a time, not long ago, when space was the exclusive domain of nation states. Now we’re in a second great wave of space commercialization that has many parallels to what happened in the digital dotcom world in the 1990s. Like with the shift from mainframes to personal computers, the costs of building for space have dramatically dropped, and thus a great democratization has begun. Entrepreneurs are coming up with ideas that don’t seem quite so crazy anymore and venture capitalists are pouring money into the sector. The incumbent corporations in mature sectors of space are getting disrupted, and totally new products are getting developed, including some that will probably never get off the ground. Are we in a space bubble like the dotcom bubble? Or are we just getting started in a long boom?
Jonny Dyer of Google will help us answer questions like these as he leads a conversation about this new space sector in the next What’s Now: San Francisco. He will be joined for Q&A by special guest Dr. Ed Lu, Executive Director of the B612 Asteroid Institute.
The Millennial Generation’s Work/Life Fusion and How It Will Affect Us All
Date and Time: January 25, 2018 5.30 PM PST
Speakers: Ting Kelly and Carson Linforth Bowley
This month we’re looking at innovation happening not in a field, but a scene that most people don’t know about. San Francisco has many examples of physical buildings, often old homes, that provide both work and living spaces for groups of people who are collaborating together and want to fuse these two sides of their lives. These collectives provide the environment for extremely immersive experiences that often accelerate innovation and lead to very productive work sessions, as well as good times.
Ting Kelly (daughter of tech guru Kevin Kelly) and Carson Linforth Bowley will lead a conversation about how members of these collectives thrive together and how Millennials more broadly are changing the balance between work and life.
WTF? What’s the Future of Platforms and Silicon Valley?
Date and Time: November 6, 2017 5.30 PM PST
Speaker: Tim O’Reilly
We’re thrilled that our November edition of What’s Now: San Francisco will be Tim O’Reilly’s official book launch party, hosted in conjunction with Bloomberg Beta. Tim’s new book WTF?: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us just came out in mid-October, and the first 125 attendees at the venue will get a free copy.
Applied Neuroscience and Ramping Up Human Potential
Date: September 28, 2017
Speaker: Vivienne Ming, Co-Founder & Managing Partner of Socos LLC
When Vivienne Ming began her neuroscience PhD program in the early 2000s, she wanted to learn how to build cyborgs. Her classmates thought the idea was crazy. Fast forward fifteen years, and the idea doesn’t sound so crazy anymore. What was once purely theoretical is becoming possible. Neuroscience research is rapidly becoming applied neuroscience, and the Bay Area is leading the way, both in terms of conducting innovative research and translating this research into exciting new startups. At the September What’s Now: San Francisco, Ming discussed the cutting edge innovation currently underway at UC Berkeley, UCSF, and Stanford, as well as other institutions.
Singularity or Multiplicity? Envisioning a Benign Robot Future
Date/Time: July 27, 2017
Speaker: Ken Goldberg, Professor, UC Berkeley
At July’s What’s Now: San Francisco, Ken Goldberg took 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 explained what’s really going on in the field now, and why he expects the field to move towards a more benign future.
Autonomous Vehicles and the Future of Transportation
Date/Time: June 20, 2017
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.
Just for You: 3D-Printed Tissues & Other Biotech Wonders
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.
Blockchain Beyond Bitcoin with Brian Behlendorf
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.
The World’s First Comprehensive Plan to Reverse Global Warming
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.
Improving Long-term Decision-Making in Tweet Time
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.
Reimagining the Digital Reform of Government in the Trump Era
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.
The Election’s Impact on Innovation with Gavin Newsom
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.
The Maker Movement and the Next Manufacturing Revolution
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.
Gaming Our Way to a Better Future
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.
1,000 Cheeseburgers: A New Map of America’s Daily Energy Use
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.
The Inevitable: The Next 30 Years in Tech
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.
From Startups to NewCos
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