David Rowan

Technology Expert & Former Editor, WIRED Magazine’s UK Edition
David Rowan Speaker
  • Chaired and moderated high-profile events for the UK and French governments, international banks, and Fortune 100 businesses
  • Has contributed to GQ, Conde Nast Traveller, The Times, and The Guardian
  • Shares takeaways on emerging technologies and the ways they are disrupting major industries

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David Rowan explains compellingly how emerging technologies will impact business — and how leaders should prepare now. As founding Editor-in-Chief of WIRED magazine’s UK edition, David came to know the founders of WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Google, Didi, Spotify, Xiaomi,  Nest, Twitter and countless other ambitious startups from Tel Aviv to Shenzhen. He has since invested in more than 150 early-stage tech companies, including two that became billion-dollar “unicorns”, and is an adviser to venture-capital funds, the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, and numerous tech businesses.  

David’s Amazon #1 business bestseller Non-Bullshit Innovation: 17 Proven Ways to Transform How You Work (Penguin) has been published in Japan, Korea, Russia, Ukraine and beyond. The book, a 20-country quest for bold corporate innovation in the face of technology-led disruption, sets out 17 proven strategies for future-proofing a successful business — helping leaders build resilience in an uncertain world.  

David has been a technology columnist for The Times, GQ, Condé Nast Traveller and The Sunday Times. He has been asked to give more than 600 keynotes in recent years, and has received repeat requests to present for clients such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Google, KPMG, McKinsey, Chanel and Unilever. David has moderated events for the World Economic Forum, WIRED and the UK and French governments, and is increasingly in demand to host virtual conferences.  

David deconstructs tech trends in real time, unpacking how major innovations like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, autonomous  vehicles, and more, are changing businesses and consumers. He focuses on how technology-led innovation can build prosperity even in economic downturns and amid market crises. He delivers fascinating and knowledgeable presentations full of insight into the future of technology together with lively examples and engaging video clips which reveal that, in some cases, the future is already here. He’s typically asked to speak about how innovation and technology are likely to impact a particular sector (from manufacturing to motoring), and what incumbent companies can do to protect themselves. He customises every talk, and in recent months has addressed audiences in finance, fashion, utilities, television, insurance, shipping, travel, real estate and business software. He also speaks a lot about changing business models, and how companies can develop a culture of innovation.

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David Rowan: Behind the Scenes

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 interacting seamlessly in 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's plenty of grounds to be optimistic: in fighting climate change alone, the 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. 

Other Topics Include: 

  • How to survive and prosper in a world of exponential technologies
  • What you can learn from the smartest people in Silicon Valley
  • The internet of things, big data and artificial intelligence: Why the rules of business just changed
  • What gamification means for business advantage
  • How to create a culture of innovation
  • Ten technology megatrends you can't ignore
  • What big data means for your business
  • Technology megatrends that will transform the hospitality industry, finance industry, insurance industry, travel industry, and media industry
  • The opportunities of 3D printing and the new "maker" culture

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