David Rowan is an expert in emerging technologies, their impact on business, and how leaders should prepare. As the founding Editor-in-Chief of WIRED magazine’s UK edition, he came to know the founders of many ambitious startups across the globe. Amongst these, he includes the likes of Google, Spotify, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, and Twitter. He has invested in over 150 early-stage technology companies, two of which became billion-dollar successes. He is also an advisor to venture-capital funds, the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, and various tech companies.
The author of ‘Non-Bullshit Innovation: 17 Proven Ways to Transform How You Work’, David Rowan has seen his bestseller published across the globe. The book is about a 20-country quest focused on bold corporate innovation in an age of technology-led disruptions. In it, he sets out different strategies to future-proof a successful business.
His career has seen David Rowan work as a technology columnist for various printed media, including The Times, The Sunday Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and GQ. Awards received as a journalist and editor include Techmark Technology Journalist of the Year, DMA Editor of the Year and British Society of Magazine Editors’ Editor of the Year.
In more recent years, David Rowan founded the VOYAGERS tech startup community and been asked to give hundreds of keynotes. He has received repeated requests to present for a range of audiences that include, amongst others, Goldman Sachs, Unilever, KPMG, Google, Chanel, and JP Morgan.
Besides his keynotes, David Rowan is a much-in-demand moderator and virtual conference host. He has moderated events for WIRED, both the UK and French governments, and the World Economic Forum.
David Rowan has the unique ability to deconstruct trends in real-time. He unpacks how major innovations, e.g., artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, quantum computing, etc., impact changing business environments and consumers. His focus is on how technological innovations can promote prosperity even in times of market crises and economic downturns.
David Rowan is today’s leading speaker on how emerging technologies will impact business — and how leaders should prepare now. He’s given more than 600 keynotes around the world and has moderated events for the World Economic Forum, the biggest global companies, and governments. As founding Editor-in-Chief of WIRED magazine in the UK, David came to know the founders of WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Google, Didi, Spotify, Twitter and countless other ambitious startups from Tel Aviv to Shenzhen.
“In general I’m translating what’s happening at tech’s cutting edge — constantly visiting research labs and startup clusters — in order to help business leaders prepare for tomorrow. Running WIRED in the UK let me build close connections with the key people shaping tech; and running climate-tech and health-tech communities and investment funds now lets me keep up with the ever-accelerating pace of AI, quantum computing, metaverses, decentralised networks, materials science, and so much more. I’m also regularly moderating events (everything from World Economic Forum sessions to an entire four-day event recently for a financial-services company) and love nothing more than taking on a challenging brief.”
Why this is AI’s “Netscape moment” — and what that means for your business
Back in 1994, Marc Andreessen released a free web browser called Netscape Navigator that heralded the birth of the consumer internet. Netscape transformed what was an obscure academic and governmental hypertext network and opened the door to what became the multi-trillion-dollar internet economy. David Rowan, founding editor-in-chief of WIRED magazine’s UK edition, and author of the bestselling book “Non-Bullshit Innovation” (Penguin), is convinced we’re at the Netscape moment in the Artificial Intelligence era: at the very beginning of a massive series of disruptive industry upheavals built on AI that will create vast new wealth — and punish any business that underestimates the speed and depth of the shift to the new AI economy.
You can already see the signals:
–Deepfakes and synthetic voice actors becoming ever more convincing
–Generative AIs such as GPT-4, Midjourney and Stable Diffusion, creating books, images or movies based on your text prompts
–Algorithmic content selection moving from TikTok to the wider entertainment economy (such as Spotify’s new AI DJs personalising your playlists for you)
–Medical AIs reading patients’ CT scans to spot tumours more reliably than human radiographers
–Autonomous cars driving more safely than humans and autonomous swarm drones getting ready for the battlefield
–Hundreds of thousands of gamers interact seamlessly in the virtual world with no constraints on their in-game creative expression
But as with all exponential technologies, what we’re seeing now is just a hint of the upcoming shifts that will impact politics, education, creative expression — even the very meaning of what it is to be human.
David works with technology founders and regularly travels to the research labs, and what he’s seeing now is a Cambrian explosion of creative uses of AI colliding with ever-increasing processing power. Today the buzz is around Large Language Models that enable compelling conversations with a machine; and around neural networks that can take still images and animate them as video (look at the latest Google Maps releases to see how a neural network lets you explore a fly-through of a restaurant, coded simply from a few photos). But tomorrow? We’re getting closer to Artificial General Intelligence, when the machine can solve any challenge as well as a human. In the meantime, journalists are competing with automated story writers; lawyers with automated discovery engines; medical consultants with algorithms that have studied every footnote in every peer-reviewed journal.
Where do we go from here — and how should you prepare? David will explain how education is about to be personalised at scale — with each student having “Einstein” explain quantum physics at their own pace; how Hollywood is planning for a future where actors won’t even need to be present to star in a blockbuster; where the customer-service agent is an AI who understand your mood and can respond to your facial expression; how we’ll discover new drugs and new carbon-negative materials by simulating molecular interactions inside an all-powerful AI.
Longer term, we need an honest public conversation about ethics: about what it means to be human in an age ever more dominated by robots; about how we constrain the AI before its encoded biases and autonomous decision-making cause us harm; about how to ensure fair access to these AIs before societies become more polarised than ever. There are plenty of grounds to be optimistic: in fighting climate change alone, AI can help us track and cut emissions and can conserve energy and water far more effectively than today’s systems. In tracking our bodies’ health, the AI will be our personal 24/7medical concierge service, spotting disease by analysing our breath or enabling the most soothing sleep. But how do we prepare for some of the more harmful consequences of this nascent revolution: from job losses at scale to automated propaganda, to biases that entrench social and economic disadvantage?
David will translate how AI is being applied today in top university labs and in the most ambitious startups, and help you understand what is about to happen in your industry. Because you can’t assume it will be business as normal.
“Insightful, thought-provoking and energizing.”
“A HUUUUGE thank you as always for being the one we trust to make any conversation bright, enlightening, energetic, thoughtful and insightful — always so, so grateful.”
“Thank you so much for an excellent session. You left the team in no doubt about the risks of disruptive factors and how they can impact any industry. Ours more than any is wide open here. Totally the right way to end the conference.”
“David Rowan was awesome.”
“David was fantastic. The content was perfect. The talk was fast paced, interesting, relevant and accessible. It set up the innovation session of our agenda really well and I was delighted with the result.”
“Your contribution at the event was terrific. The content was highly relevant & extremely interesting. Your talk received the highest audience review on the feedback application. The level of your professionalism is unrivalled.”
“A stellar moderator – insightful and challenging to the speakers, witty and engaging for the audience, and very positive to work with.”
“You set the tone for the day perfectly, engaging the audience and steering the presenters through a very full agenda. The feedback from the day has been overwhelmingly positive, which is largely due to your dynamism, good humour and professionalism.”
“The team was blown away and they are a hard group to impress.”