Towards a Global Brain

Tim O'Reilly (O'Reilly Media, Inc.)
Keynote
Location: Westside Ballroom

At the same time as we’re seeing breakthrough after breakthrough in artificial intelligence, we’re also seeing the fulfillment of the vision of Vannevar Bush, JCR Licklider, and Doug Engelbart that computers could augment human information retrieval and problem solving. AI turned out not to be a matter of developing better algorithms, but of having enough data. The key applications of the web combine machine learning algorithms with techniques for harnessing the collective intelligence of users as captured in massive, interlinked cloud databases. Bit by bit, this is leading us towards a new kind of global brain, in which we have met the AI, and it is us. We and our devices are its senses, our databases are its memory, its habits, and even its dreams. This global brain is still a child, but as its parents, we have a responsibility to think about how best to raise it. What should we be teaching our future augmented selves? How can we make the emerging global consciousness not only more resilient, but more moral?

Photo of Tim O'Reilly

Tim O'Reilly

O'Reilly Media, Inc.

Tim has a history of convening conversations that reshape the industry. In 1998, he organized the meeting where the term “open source software” was agreed on, and helped the business world understand its importance. In 2004, with the Web 2.0 Summit, he defined how “Web 2.0” represented not only the resurgence of the web after the dot com bust, but a new model for the computer industry, based on big data, collective intelligence, and the internet as a platform. In 2009, with his “Gov 2.0 Summit,” he framed a conversation about the modernization of government technology that has shaped policy and spawned initiatives at the Federal, State, and local level, and around the world. He has now turned his attention to implications of the on-demand economy and other technologies that are transforming the nature of work and the future shape of the business world. He is the founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media and a partner at O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures (OATV). He is also a founder and board member at Maker Media, which spun out of O’Reilly Media in 2012, and a board member at Code for America, PeerJ, Civis Analytics, and PopVox.

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