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#6—Vivek Wadhwa: Harnessing Tech for an Innovative Future

#6—Vivek Wadhwa: Harnessing Tech for an Innovative Future

In this episode Kaihan welcomes Vivek Wadhwa, who talks with him about exponential technologies, what it takes for a large legacy company to act like a nimble entrepreneurial one, and why at this moment, over the next decade or so, we have one of the biggest opportunities humanity has faced in our history.

Vivek is a Distinguished Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program. He’s based in Silicon Valley and researches, speaks, and writes about advancing technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, synthetic biology and nanomaterials. He's the author of five bestselling books and was named one of the world’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers” by Foreign Policy magazine, was on TIME magazine’s list of “Tech 40," one of forty of the most influential minds in tech.

In this discussion, Vivek helps us understand how we can create a “start trek” future in which we have almost unlimited free clean energy, an abundance of food for the planet, cure almost every disease, and educate the world. We can have that if we make the right choices about how and where technology is used. But if we don’t play our cards right, we could be headed to a dark future, the “mad max” future. He leaves us finally with some concrete ideas of what you can do right now, as an innovator, as a strategist, to move us toward that “star trek” future.


"The problem is that every technology can be used for good and it can be used for evil. The first technology was fire. Fire could use to keep us warm, or it could be used to burn down houses. That's the way it's always been.

Use technology for good...You can use technologies for uplifting communities. You can help the poor. You can do a lot of good for the world. Think big, start, small solve problems."

-Vivek Wadhwa


Episode Timeline:

00:00—Introducing Vivek Wadhwa + The topic of today’s episode

2:30—If you really knew me, you know that...

3:04—What is your definition of strategy?

4:08—How can a linear large company act like an agile exponential one?

6:06—Could you describe exponential technologies and point us to ones that people aren't paying as much attention to that we should be?

8:09—Can you tell us about the implications of devices not only being smarter, but also communicating better?

9:33—What are you predictions for fundamentals, like energy, food, health and education?

12:00—What is the challenge for us to be able to create or plan for this exponential Star Trek future or maybe the dark future?

14:21—We can't rely on the individual to say "This technology should be used for good." How do we unravel that?

16:20—Is there an action, a framework, a tool, a step that you would recommend that someone take?


Resources Mentioned:

Clayton M. Christensen: The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail

Vivek Wadhwa: From Incremental to Exponential: How Large Companies Can See the Future and Rethink Innovation

The 4th Option Junto
The Outthinkers podcast is a growth strategy podcast hosted by Kaihan Krippendorff. Each week, Kaihan talks with forward-looking strategists and innovators that are challenging the status quo, leading the future of business, and shaping our world.