“The new challenge for humanity will not be how to chip away at the old problems,” says Byron, “but what to do in a world where we can do anything.” His first book, Infinite Progress: How the Internet and Technology Will End Ignorance, Disease, Poverty, Hunger, and War has been called “a prophetic book,” “an essential road map,” and “an antidote to the harmful gloom and moralizing that pervades most discussions of the future.” In his recently released book The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity, he offers insight into Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and their extraordinary implications for our species. He provides extraordinary background information on how we got to this point, and how—rather than what—we should think about the topics we’ll soon all be facing.
Referring to his time as Chief Innovation Officer at Demand Media, Bloomberg Businessweek credits Byron with having “quietly pioneered a new breed of media company.” Wired Magazine described him as “a tall Texan who … created the idea-spawning algorithm that lies at the heart of Demand’s process.” The Financial Times of London reported that he “is typical of the new wave of internet entrepreneurs out to turn the economics of the media industry on its head.” And Business Insider concluded that Byron “seems like a kooky – and awesome guy … We’d love to buy him a beer.”
Byron started his first business as an undergraduate at Rice University. He later founded and sold two companies: Hot Data, ultimately to Pitney Bowes; and PageWise to Demand Media. Byron currently is the publisher and CEO of Gigaom, a technology research and analysis firm helping business leaders understand the implications of emerging technologies and their impacts on business, media, and society.
- After the Disaster - How Humanity Always Bounces Back
- Big Data and the Perfectibility of Humanity
More data is created every day that was created in the entire 19th Century. And within that data lies to the answers to the vexing problems of life. Automatic computer programs will scour the data for associations that will be turned into algorithms to optimize every decision we have to make in life. And while we may not always choose to do those things, it will effectively make every person on the planet vastly wiser than the wisest person who has ever lived. In the future, no one will ever need to make a mistake again. While this sounds like a technical talk, the wide use of real examples makes it suitable for any audience.
- The Future of Education
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. 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 teaching yourself new skills and working collaboratively with a team, neither of which are taught in our existing framework. How should education change? How will it? What skills will ensure that a person can economically contribute in a world of radical technological change?
- The Next Seven Years
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 we need to begin preparing for.
- How to Innovate in a Repidly Changing World
No matter what industry you are in, you probably have a sense that you are in one of those radical disruptive periods where everything seems to be changing. You might be wondering when it is all going to settle down so you can take a bit of a breather. This talk explores how businesses that operate in industries that are undergoing dramatic changes can function and be successful. While traditional futurists seldom bridge the gap between “here is what is going to happen” and “here is how you profit from it,” Byron explores how it is that radical technology advance creates new multibillion dollar companies, and destroys old ones.
- How To Change the World for Centuries to Come
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? Largely through 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 worldwide effect on the history of the planet.
- The Coming Golden Age of Humanity
In this compelling talk, Byron demonstrates how current technological changes will ultimately bring about the end of poverty, disease, hunger, ignorance, and war. 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.
- The Future of Work
While audience members once commonly asked, "What should I teach my kids to make sure they have a job in the future,” today, says Byron they ask, 'What do I need to learn to stay relevant in the future?' And, 'How do I keep from falling behind?' Everyone agrees that technology is changing the world. The question is how should we change in response to it? In this talk, Byron tells the story of technology's advancement from the invention of language until today. He explores what's to come in the next decade, and examines what we individuals can do to make the most of changing times. What skills are useful to have? Which technologies should we adopt? How will technology affect the workplace, the home, and society in general? In this empowering talk, 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 Bryon, and "the best response is to expand our dreams and expectations, not our fears and concerns."
- How Robots Create Human 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 upcoming book, The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers and the Future of Humanity, to be released Nov. 2017 by Simon & Schuster, Byron invites his audience to meet him at the start of the Industrial Revolution, to explore from there the many advances leading to today's technological age, and then to dare to explore the vast possibilities of the future, the coming Fourth Age. This talk is structured to be highly customizable to specific industries or can be presented to a general audience. Byron delivers a calm and factual analysis concluding that our best days are certainly ahead of us.