566: In this interview, we discuss the state of American politics and the role that technology plays. Dr. Fukuyama describes what he sees as the rise of populism in the U.S., the deepening polarization between voters, and how platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Google have facilitated this polarization. He proposes the application of middleware to these platforms and provides possible benefits to such applications as well as criticisms that it has received. Additionally, Dr. Fukuyama gives his perspective on challenges arising from both Russia and China and provides an analysis of the current Biden Administration.

Also available on YouTube:

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This episode is sponsored by Apptio and Tanium.

   

539: Daniela Rus, the director of MIT CSAIL, imagines a future where robots are so integrated in the fabric of human life that they become as common as smart phones are today. In this interview, we discuss some of the many examples in which robotics and AI have been used in new ways during the pandemic, why AI is most effective when people and machines work together, and some of the ways AI will positively impact our lives in the future. We also discuss why we should think of AI as interns and humans as the ones who make the important decisions, the state of autonomous vehicles and the work Daniela’s team is doing in that field, among a variety of other topics. 

 

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This episode is sponsored by Zoho.

508: MIT CISR Executive Director Peter Weill discusses 

  • The two roles of a technology leader: To manage technology and to help differentiate their enterprises. 
  • Some of the education programs CISR has for management teams to increase digital savviness
  • Some of the long-term implications the pandemic will have on the world
  • The results and implications from several of the machine learning based studies done by CISR that show that less than half of CIOs or CTOs and less than a quarter of boards are digitally savvy
  • The importance of having at least three digital savvy directors on a board
  • The three major aspects of a board
  • The value of having CIOs on boards

Among a variety of other topics.

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This episode is sponsored by Zoho and Sykes

431: MIT Sloan’s Center for Information Systems Research Principal Research Scientist Jeanne Ross lays out the three characteristics companies must have to implement a successful digital transformation, which are experimenting repeatedly, co-creating with customers, and assembling cross-functional development teams. The experiment aspect involves recognizing that the digital economy is making new directions possible, but for companies to succeed, they need to find the intersection between what they can do and what their customers will pay for. Co-creating with customers, which solves the same problem, entails starting a workshop where everybody puts the issues on the table and are asked, “What can we do to creatively solve this?” Lastly, cross-functional teams are about recognizing that you do not want to simply throw all your money at your R&D or IT unit and ask them to get it done. Instead, Jeanne argues that it is an iterative process that requires many teams. We also discuss the evolution of the CIO role, why companies should not get so hung up on set roles of what a CIO or CDO should do but look to get away from structure, why having only 5% of revenue come from digital is actually an accomplishment, among other topics. 

428: AI pioneer and UC Berkeley Professor Stuart Russell warns that AI is reshaping society in unintended ways. For example, social media content selection algorithms that choose what individuals watch and read do not even know that human beings exist. As AI becomes more capable, he suggests that we are going to see bigger failures of this kind unless we change the way we think about AI altogether. Stuart argues that to ensure AI is provably beneficial for human beings, we must design machines to be inherently uncertain about human preferences. This way, we can ensure they are humble, altruistic, and committed to pursuing our objectives even as they set their own goals. We also discuss why AI needs regulation similar to civil engineering and medicine, the impact AI is going to make over the next decade, autonomous vehicles, among other topics.

426: UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla details the strategic plan he has led. While he cites that he found a great university when he arrived, he knew it was destined for greater things and he set out to create a vision to realize that goal. We also discuss how the University of California System schools interact and share best practices, why Pradeep preferred an 8-word strategic plan over a longer form plan, why he misses being a professor, among other topics.

425: UCLA Professor Ramesh Srinivasan discusses why and how we should look past Silicon Valley for innovation. He argues that innovation is happening all around the world, and he shares his experiences in countries like Kenya and Mexico. Citing how these countries are doing more with less and being resourceful, rather than feeling as if economic or infrastructural constraints are restricting their ability to act, he claims that individuals in these countries are innovating with constraints. Further, he cautions against creating a world in which the inequalities that we currently see are amplified by technological innovations that are only defined within the Valley. Instead, he advocates for an internet that lifts all of us up because it creates a win-win scenario. We also discuss Ramesh’s goal to have a digital bill of rights, his Lab’s attempt to bring a variety of scholars and researchers into contact with one another and share their learnings with the wider public through workshops, engaging with journalists, and writing books, companies Ramesh has seen emerge in the countries he has worked in, among other topics. 

421: Steven Rogelberg, the author of “The Suprise Science of Meetings,” exposes the main reasons why meetings are inefficient and shares his tips on how organizations can improve the effectiveness of meetings. Steven points out that there are roughly 55 million meetings per day, and most of them are ineffective or at least suboptimal. He notes that part of the reason is that 20 percent of leaders ever receive any training on how to run a meeting, the training they do receive is not meaningful, organizations have no type of accountability on how their meetings are going, and no one in the organization is owning meetings. To improve meetings, Steven suggests that organizations consider shortening the meeting times, structuring meeting agendas around questions to be answered, banning the mute button for remote meetings, and limiting attendance at meetings to those who must be there. We also discuss the importance of being intentional in meetings, how Steven got the inspiration to write a book on meetings, how a positive mindset from the leader is the best predictor of the mood of the entire team, among other topics. 

386: Akamai CEO Tom Leighton details the private and public sector’s growing security concerns, which has led to the company’s pivot from its traditional internet offerings to a fast-growing security business. Today, there are billions of devices in homes and offices that are not adequately secured. Bad actors have the ability to wipe out any cloud data center, which can isolate many countries from the rest of the world. Tom believes that this damage is a fraction of what could be done in future attacks, and the only way to stop these attacks is to absorb it out at the edge. We also discuss Akamai’s founding story, how the company survived the difficult times following the dot.com crash, why Tom believes the firewall’s time has passed, among other topics.


This episode sponsored by Fortinet.

Singularity University (SU), a global community with a mission to educate, inspire, and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to help solve humanity’s grand challenges, has acquired the consulting and training firm Uncommon Partners (UP) to expand its capabilities for clients and partners.

Co-founded in 2018 by SU faculty member Kyle Nel and Amanda Manna, UP brings expertise in corporate innovation and specialized capabilities for strategy, research, and emerging technology development that enhance SU’s product offerings. UP also trains leaders to apply lessons from behavioral science to the human challenges of transformation, using tools like narrative, neuroscience, and experimental design. These behavioral transformation tools will be integrated into SU’s portfolio of enterprise solutions, equipping organizations with new advanced tools for driving business transformation.