2013 – Present

As a writer, the founder of MIT Solve, and an investor, I have been talking to audiences about the impacts of new technologies for two decades. My TED Talk, Can technology solve our big problems?” reflects my optimism about the powers of technology and the reality that not all problems are amenable to technological solutions. In speeches, I mix story-telling, analysis, and a little data to explain emerging technologies and describe their opportunities, challenges, and risks.

15 Feb 2013

Can technology solve our big problems?

Can technology solve our big problems?” — based on an essay with a similar title in MIT Technology Review—has now been watched more than 1.6 million times, but was not warmly applauded at TED 2013. Many of the problems humans care about most, including most political and metaphysical questions, are meaningful yet fall into a resistant category, because the proposed solutions cannot be falsified, and people disagree about ends. Such problems must be renegotiated by every generation. But some important problems can be provisionally answered, because we can develop the technology, and we more or less agree about what we want. After I spoke, a senior venture capitalist, a prince of Silicon Valley, sidled up and whispered, That was very brave.” He meant the speech had been exceptionally foolish and probably career-blighting. 

Large red opening quote markJason is one of the most dynamic speakers on innovation. He explains trends in a way both technologists and laypeople understand, and captures his audience’s attention by encouraging open dialogue.

— Judy Lin, marketing leader, Zest AI, formerly LinkedIn and Adobe


  • 10 Breakthrough Technologies for 2021

    Every year, I choose 10 emerging technologies that have the potential to transform business and society. The technologies are drawn from a wide variety of fields, including computing, biotechnology, energy, and materials. I identify the innovators responsible for a breakthrough and provide a timeline for commer­cial­iza­tion. I describe the problem the breakthrough solves; take apart the solution using clear, everyday language; and explore the likely impact for your organization. 

  • How to Think Like a VC

    Emerging technologies and new science are being turned into disruptive, commercial products and services at an unprecedented pace. Many of these new products are based on breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, gene editing, and materials science. For executives navigating business and life, it can seem impossible to keep up with the latest ideas and their potential impact. Fortunately, there is a proven methodology, followed by most venture capitalists who invest in fundamental advances, for distinguishing between hype and reality. 

  • The Future of Work

    The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated a transformation in how people work, driven by the rapid evolution of online work environments, artificial intelligence, robotics, and data analytics. No one knows what work be like when we return to our offices, labs, factories, or stores, but almost every job and industry will be touched by the coming age of machine intelligence and automation; cities and factories won’t look the same. I will explore the present and future of workplace technologies in a presentation customized to your organization and industry.

  • The Future of Computing

    Andrew Ng, founder of Google Mind, suggests the impact of the revolution in AI this way: If a typical person can do a mental task with less than one second of thought, we can probably automate it using AI either now or in the near future.” Most jobs and industries will be transformed by machine intelligence. More remarkable still is what’s next: quantum computers, which manipulate qubits — particles like photons or electrons — instead of bits. Given enough functional qubits, a quantum algorithm could solve practical problems that conventional computers couldn’t solve with all the time in the universe. I’ll explain how AI and quantum computing will affect your business. 

  • The Future of Health

    The 21st century will be the biological century. Fundamental and surprising discoveries about the human genome and the microbiome (the microbial life that evolved with us, which lives in and on our bodies), in combination with new techniques in artificial intelligence and gene-editing, are providing unprecedented insights into human health and disease. We are learning why cells pass from health to disease, how our brains learn, why we age, and much more. I will guide your organization through the transformative possibilities of the revolution in life sciences and its potential impact on our society and our lives.

  • The Future of Energy

    Advanced alternative sources of energy like solar, wind, and nuclear power are now often cheaper than burning natural gas or coal. But to wean humanity from its addiction to oil and natural gas will require two more revolutions: ways to dispatch energy to where it’s needed, and techniques to create chemicals and materials that don’t rely on cracking hydrocarbons. Fortunately, innovators have developed solutions to both problems: new battery technologies and the wireless transmission of energy, as well as the production of breakthrough biomaterials using the genetically engineered microbes like bacteria, fungi, or yeast. I will guide your organization through the revolution in alternative energy and its potential impact on our society and our lives.

Past Talks

  • Virtual 29 Oct 2021
    Watermark Estate Management Services

    10 Breakthrough Technologies 2021

  • Virtual 21 Oct 2021
    SOSV Climate Tech Summit
  • Mackinac Island, MI 20 Sep 2021
    Mackinac Policy Conference

    10 Breakthrough Technologies 2021

  • Cincinnati, OH 13 Oct 2020
    University of Cincinnati

    The Future of Data Science

  • San Francisco, CA 21 Nov 2019

    The Future of AI

  • Scottsdale, AZ 24 Oct 2019
    American Hospital Association

    The Future of Healthcare

Event Organizers:

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