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 Tarun  Wadhwa Image

Tarun Wadhwa

Carnegie Mellon Academic; Author and Strategic Disruptor

Fee Range:
$10, 000 - $15,000

The most fascinating things in life are those that surprisingly pop-up out of nowhere and inexplicably capture our attention.  After all, we are hardwired with a fight-or-flight instinct that demands that we notice anything disruptive.

Tarun Wadhwa has lived his whole life examining rule-changing innovative disruptions and how they affect our business and personal lives and may be the clearest and most accurate futurist alive today.

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Tarun is an entrepreneur, academic, and acclaimed writer who is working at the intersection of technological advancement, innovation, global growth, security, and public policy. He regularly writes for Forbes, and his work has appeared in The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Marketwatch, The Washington Post, Digital-Life-Design, and many other prestigious journals. He is currently a Visiting Instructor at Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering, and was previously co-Founder and COO of AIC Chile, a private innovation lab that creates technologies aiming to alleviate poverty (acquired in 2016). He worked to commercialize the breakthrough Plasma Water Sanitation System (PWSS), a sanitation technology that is currently providing at-risk communities across Latin America with clean drinking water.

Tarun’s anticipated new book, Identified: The Digital Transformation of Who We Are, which explores the global rise of digital identification systems, will be out in the Fall of 2018. It analyzes the technologies that governments and companies use to see who we are — things such as national identification systems, biometrics, and online identity. He tracks these systems over time to see how they are changing governments, social norms, and the lives of people all around the world.

One of Tarun’s most exciting ventures is Day One Insights, a strategy and advisory firm he founded around technological convergence, corporate reinvention, and social impact. This work focuses on trends that are overturning established industries; developments in cyber-security, privacy, and surveillance; and the impact of technological advancements on legal systems and societal institutions. All of this cutting-edge research has provided opportunities to partner with several of the most talked about companies in the world and influence leadership decision-making that is transforming these organizations.

Speech Topics

We live in the most innovative and interesting time in history, with unprecedented opportunities and resources becoming widely available.  While economists and politicians argue amongst themselves about whether progress has come to a halt, scientists, designers, and entrepreneurs are building the future one advancement at a time.  Nearly every field and part of life is going to experience a massive technology-enabled transformation over the next two decades, for better or worse.

This change is coming due to technologies advancing exponentially. For more than 100 years, the processing power of computers has doubled every 18 months. Now it has come to the point at which our smartphones are more powerful than yesterday’s supercomputers were. Faster computers are now being used to design faster computers; and computers and the information technology that they enable are absorbing other fields.

The lecture will begin with a basic overview of the progression of technologies, and the driving forces behind this acceleration.  Tarun will detail advances in fields such as computing, medicine, sensors, artificial intelligence, digital manufacturing, and robotics.  He will explain how they’re changing manufacturing, distribution, and virtually every part of how a corporation operates.

We are seeing startups come out of nowhere to disrupt old industries.  Note Amazon.com, a technology company, disrupting bookstores; Apple’s shake-up of the music industry; mapping apps on cellphones’ displacement of GPS devices; and Uber’s transformation of the taxi industry.  Innovation has globalized; business models and technology developed in one country can easily be exported to another. Companies will need to make bold changes in order to survive in this new era of industry disruption, and that begins with understanding the larger picture of what is going on.

The rapid pace of technological change is creating unprecedented security risks for companies.  While everyday there seems to be a new story of a corporation that has been hacked, the reality is that we are only at the tip of the iceberg.  The cyber attacks of the near future won’t be as much about stealing credit cards and passwords as they will be like the events that took place at Sony Pictures, where an entire enterprise was taken apart in the span of three weeks.  Executive emails, employee health information, and industry contracts are all fair game in this new age of security threats.

In order to prepare for the challenges ahead, executives need to understand what has changed and what they are now responsible for.  In this lecture I will discuss an overview of the trends in cyber security that will take place over the next 5-10 years.  From hacked thermostats sending your competitors intelligence, to phishing emails so convincing it is hard to know who is really behind the screen, cyber security is going to become one of the largest obstacles that individuals and corporations will face for success.

That’s because the nature of cybercrime itself is changing, and criminals are often some of the most savvy and enthusiastic early adopted.  Adversaries can now be from anywhere in the world, and small groups of people can cause enormous amounts of damage remotely.  By examining their behavior we can understand the nature of the threat companies will face – and also learn their best practices and how they are able to be so effective.

This lecture will include a discussion of what corporations can do to position themselves for success and an overview of the most contentious debates in the field.  It takes important concepts that everyone in business needs to know, but distills the most practical knowledge without getting lost in the technical specifics.  Customers, clients, and boards are ultimately holding executives responsible for the security of their company.  What they will need to learn is a shift in mindset towards proactive defense rather than the status quo of reactive response.

Drones crash-landing on the White House lawn; Cars are driving themselves for millions of miles on public roads; Scientists editing the DNA of embryos to remove diseases.  These scenarios may sound like science fiction, but they have all already taken place.  As technology continues to advance at an exponential rate and overturn entire industries, it raises some very serious questions related to how we should live our lives.  Along the way, it is posing grave challenges to our legal and ethical systems, the likes of which we have never experienced before.

It’s far greater than just one type of technology or one area of law that will need to be updated, advances in technologies will undermine all of these systems, on many different fronts at the same time.  By understanding and advancing not only the larger changes taking place, but the greater impact of these developments, individuals and corporations can understand the risks and issues they will have to grapple with in the near future.  The type of disruption that would take centuries and generations to take place now occurs in the matter of months and years.

This lecture will commence with an overview of how advances in information technologies like data storage, processing, and analytics are leading to a revolution in robotics, artificial intelligence, and connected hardware that will lead to massive opportunities while at the same time causing great upheaval.   Going technology by technology, we can begin to understand how these new systems, applications, and business models will need to be dealt with in order to maximize their upside while limiting their potential downside.

Digital identification systems are quietly reshaping the world. They are transforming everything from how we move across borders to how we conduct commerce and interact with our governments.  It used to be that a small group of documents would define who you were, now your pieces of your identity exists in thousands of places across the internet and physical world.

There have been incredible advancements in things such as national identification systems, biometrics, and online identity – the very systems at the core of our government, economy, and political order. Offering an incredible tool to implement reforms, these technologies can help to transform the lives of billions of people by providing them recognition, resources, security, and access. Yet there are also enormous challenges involved as well. These same systems can be used to digitize discrimination, conduct surveillance a massive scale, undermine civil liberties, while posing enormous cyber-security risks to individuals and corporations.

This lecture will focus on how changes in the way we are identified are spreading.  It will track how these advances are impacting the daily lives of people in every corner of the globe – and what companies can do to add value for everyone involved.  For businesses these advancements will cause significant change to how nearly every transaction or process that involves trust will take place.

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