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Alex Salkever

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Alex Salkever is a leading expert in exploring the intersection of technology, business, and society, with over two decades of experience covering cutting-edge advancements in a wide assortment of fields such as AI (and ChatGPT), green energy, genetic engineering, cloud computing, virtual reality, and self-driving cars. As a former editor of BusinessWeek and an award-winning author, Alex has a unique perspective on how technology impacts our lives and well-being. Based in the heart of Silicon Valley, Alex has firsthand access to emerging technologies at the forefront of development and adoption. He regularly engages with researchers and innovators working on over-the-horizon ideas that will shape the future.

 

Alex is the author of several influential books, including "The Driver in the Driverless Car: How Our Technology Choices Will Create the Future," which was long-listed for the McKinsey/Financial Times Business Book of the Year award, and "The Immigrant Exodus," named one of The Economist's "Business Books of the Year." He also wrote "Your Happiness Was Hacked: Why Tech Is Winning the Battle to Control Your Brain--and How to Fight Back." Alex has held senior technology executive positions at multiple Silicon Valley companies, ranging from startups to tech giants.

 

As a respected thought leader, Alex contributes articles to leading publications such as Fortune, Marketwatch, CNBC, and Foreign Affairs and is a sought-after speaker on the future of technology and its implications for society.

 

Speaking Topics - 

 

AI and the Future of Technology Infrastructure: It's All Going to Change

 

The runaway success of ChatGPT, Stabile Diffusion, Midjourney, and other generative AI systems has taken the new technology genre mainstream at lightspeed. But even though generative AI might seem like magic, a lot has to happen behind the curtain for the Wizard to work. Already, the ChatGPT busy message is a common occurrence. Generative AI is incredibly compute-intensive and combines heavy requirements for massive data crunching in the cloud and localized, specialized data for specific contexts and use cases. Increasingly, as it becomes a part of every application — the intent of Microsoft, the part owner of OpenAI — answers will need to be delivered quickly and crisply — as if we were talking to another person. To make this possible, we will need a total overhaul of our technology infrastructure. This talk will cover how the insatiable demand for AI will impact data centers, wireless networks, servers, devices, cloud computing, networking, and many other infrastructure-related aspects.

 

The AI Cheat Code: How ChatGPT (and AI Tools) Will (and Won't) Forever Alter Human Work

 

In 2022, AI finally broke through to the mainstream and began to impact our work in obvious and meaningful ways. ChatGPT took the world by storm and upended the status quo. High school students used it to write college essays. Respected news publications tried it out for original articles. Executives began to use it to draft emails. Marketers started using it to write blogs and social media posts. Its output was astonishingly convincing except when it was factually incorrect, unoriginal, and formulaic. 

 

ChatGPT will make us far more efficient for many tasks. But it will not replace humans and usually will become an extension of their wisdom. And that's the key to understanding AI writ large and its role for the next five years — the cheat code. AI can give humans superpowers, but you must understand its limitations to unlock its true magic. This talk will trace the origins of AI, the incredible breakthroughs of Deep Learning and modern AI, cover the limitations of current AI and provide guidance and insight on how AI will change human work in the near and long-term — and what that might mean for you.

 

AI, Creativity, and Misinformation: Uncharted Waters

 

The rapid improvements in artificial intelligence have unlocked new capabilities to generate high-quality and often original text, images, video, and audio at the press of a button. The implications of this shift are enormous, and we are already seeing the impacts:

 

  • a fake image of the Pentagon sends stock markets plunging
  • a rapid surge in scams using voice clones to fool helpless victims
  • the rapid proliferation of media sites powered entirely with fake articles generated by AI
  • the production of new songs with voices that sound like popular singers but are AI creations. 

 

On the other hand, pioneers are pushing new boundaries in exciting ways leveraging AI — from the singer Grimes, who invited her fans to remix her songs and generate original creations with shared revenues to art galleries that invited artists to use AI to modernize works by Dutch Masters, to great effect, to the founder of LinkedIn, who collaborated with ChatGPT to write a book about AI. This talk will examine how technology and AI will forever change how we create, interact with, and perceive information and art and the subsequent changes we may see in politics, society, business — and our lives. 

 

Will AI Make Us Stupid and Other Relevant Questions to Ask Before We Buy In

 

With the rise of generative artificial intelligence, many creative tasks are now being outsourced to deep learning systems. Companies are rushing to embed AI into all manner of tasks. Some are low-value, such as responding to emails, analyzing customer sentiment, or writing short abstracts. But we also see people experiment with AI as a wholesale replacement for writing blogs, creating charts and graphics, and building PowerPoint presentations. Is this healthy or good? What are the secondary and tertiary benefits of the creative process that make us better thinkers and more creative people — and will AI atrophy this muscle in catastrophic ways? What are the potential longer-term impacts of AI on our brains?

 

What Happens When Energy Is Free?

 

The costs of creating and storing energy are rapidly dropping. Solar panel and wind power pricing are plunging. Batteries are quickly becoming more efficient, storing more power per square meter at a lower cost. And a host of new battery technologies are on the horizon. We have already seen what happens when certain things that used to be expensive become free. On the internet, knowledge became more or less free with the rise of Google (and it will become even more free with the improvements in AI like ChatGPT). This unleashed a torrent of innovation. In many industries, much lower energy costs unlock amazing possibilities. For example, today, many energy-intensive industries like aluminum production and data centers are located in areas with cheap power, even though those locations may be far from customers and create other costs. Air travel is bound by energy density calculations. Clean water becomes easy to make with cheap energy. So what will the world look like when energy is free, and how will this change society and business?

 

The Coming Age of Hyper-Personalized Everything, From Vegetables to Clothes to House Design to Genetically Modified Kids

 

Hyper-personalization is like nuclear fusion — always 20 years away. But many breakthrough technologies have brought us to the brink of hyper-personalized reality. In medicine, it is now possible to affordably analyze DNA and prescribe treatments that work best for our specific genes (and, equally important, not waste time on treatments that don't work). In food, CRISPR has made it incredibly easy to edit the genes of crops without adding alien DNA, unlocking the ability to create foods that match our nutritional needs. CRISPR is also unlocking novel gene therapies that will be highly personalized to treat specific conditions and even improve our kids by making them taller, smarter, and more resilient. The cost of 3-D printing is plummeting, leading to the emergence of affordable and infinitely customizable printed homes made from novel materials. Naturally, in the era of AI and chatbots, our interactions with information will be massively personalized, and we will all truly live in an Internet of one. This talk looks at the future of hyper-personalization, what it means for us, and the promise and peril of this exciting era. 

 

The Future Coming Faster and Faster: Will It Be Jetsons Or Blade Runner?

 

You are correct if it feels like the future is getting here faster and faster. Technology innovation and adoption are accelerating by many key measures. How will this impact our lives for better and for worse? We have video doorbells with facial recognition, automated ovens that recognize foods and set cook times, and driverless cars that (mostly) drive better than humans. We are about to pass the ultimate reality check — flying taxis! At the same time, we live in a world where technology that we cannot control controls many aspects of our lives in ways that we may not like. From medical diagnoses to social media feeds to what interest rate we get on a credit card, even to whether we get considered for a job, behind-the-scenes algorithms are exerting more and more hidden control — sometimes with terrifying results. For example, scientists now realize that many of the disease diagnostics algorithms work well on Caucasians but poorly on blacks and Asians because of genetic differences. In China, we have the ultimate example of a dystopian future — where people are biometrically tracked throughout their days and even policed by drones equipped with facial recognition telling them what to do and where they can go. This talk looks at the good and bad of the future and what we, as businesses, societies, and humans, can do to make it better.

Alex Salkever's Experiences

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Your Happiness was Hacked

Why Tech Is Winning the Battle to Control Your Brain - and How to Fight Back

The Driver in the Driverless Car

How Your Technology Choices Create The Future

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