Alec Ross

Author of The Industries of the Future. Formerly Senior Advisor for Innovation to Secretary Clinton

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON February 11, 2016

Discussion

Alec Ross@alecjross · Author, The Industries of the Future
Hi - I'm Alec Ross, author of the Industries of the Future. If you want to understand what's going to shape our world for the next 10 years, I've got some thoughts and would love to hear yours. I'm delighted to be here-- ask me anything!
Kingsong Chen@kingsongchen · Founder at Scanate
Hi Alec, I am starting to see that cities are making a real effort to innovate. How do you think we can attract more young people to government technology?
Alec Ross@alecjross · Author, The Industries of the Future
@kingsongchen Such a good question. I think the main thing to drive young people to public service vs. the private sector who have technology chops is for government to not frustrate the hell out of young people with their insane, inane procurement process. When somebody with technology skills goes into government and then can't use those skills because they can't use the tools that they want and build what they want, it sends them back to the private sector
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Hey, Alec! One of my favorite questions to ask is what do you think will change in the next 10 years that most others will disagree with?
Alec Ross@alecjross · Author, The Industries of the Future
@rrhoover Here it is --- In ten years, the deaf and mute will be able to speak, and everybody reading this article will be conversant in dozens of foreign languages, eliminating the very concept of a language barrier. It used to be the case when I traveled abroad that I would take a little pocket dictionary that provided translations for commonly used phrases and words. If I wanted to construct a sentence, I would thumb through the dictionary for five minutes to develop a clunky expression with unconjugated verbs and my best approximation of the correct noun. Today I take out my phone and type the phrase into Google Translate, which returns a translation as fast as my Internet connection can provide it, in any of 90 languages. When I can’t say something, I’ll hold up the screen and my non-English-speaking counterpart can read what I am failing to say. Of course my pronunciation is bad to the point of incoherence, I can only do a couple of sentences at a time, and I have no idea what others are saying to me in response. It’s basically good enough to ask where the bathroom is and then hope somebody points in the right direction. Today’s machine translation is leaps and bounds faster and more effective than my old dictionary method, but it still falls short in accuracy, functionality, and delivery. In essence, this is little more than a data and computing problem. Professional translators argue that local dialects, inflections, and nuance are too complex for computers to ever account for sufficiently. But they are wrong. Today’s translation tools were developed by computing more than a billion translations a day for over 200 million people. With the exponential growth in data, that number will soon signify the number of translations made in an afternoon, then in an hour. Massive amounts of language data will go in and out. As the amount of data that informs translation grows exponentially, the machines will grow exponentially more accurate and be able to parse the smallest detail. Whenever the machine translations get it wrong, users can flag the error—and that data too will be incorporated into future attempts. We just need more data, more computing power, and better software. These will come with the passage of time and will fill in the communication gaps in areas including pronunciation and interpreting a spoken response.
Hash_tag_jeff@jeffumbro · Book Marketing and PR - get in touch
Thoughts on Bernie Sanders? If you were working on the Clinton campaign, what would you have her do immediately?
Alec Ross@alecjross · Author, The Industries of the Future
@jeffumbro I don't think that most people who are supporting Bernie Sanders know that he's a socialist. I would educate people about what a socialist actually believes while also emphasizing her vision for how she can address the legitimate issues of Sanders supporters such as inequality
Arsalan Khan, M.Sc.@arsalanakhan · Blogger
Hey Alec, What are the top 3 ways to spur citizen innovation through federal, state, local governments and families?
Alec Ross@alecjross · Author, The Industries of the Future
@arsalanakhan 1. Reform the government IT procurement process 2. Make it easier to hire tech experts and/or enable tech experts to volunteer to do work in partnership with governments and 3. more open data, so that citizens can use government data/resources to build products that make use of that data in a way that government isn't doing on its own
Arsalan Khan, M.Sc.@arsalanakhan · Blogger
@alecjross Any estimates on how much open data is currently being used by citizens?
Alec Ross@alecjross · Author, The Industries of the Future
@arsalanakhan yeesh --- I'm not sure.
Mike Coutermarsh@mscccc · Code @ GitHub
Hi Alec! 😀. I'd love to know, what's the one thing you've done professionally that scared you the most?
Alec Ross@alecjross · Author, The Industries of the Future
@mscccc Great question! Hmmmmmm....probably some of the really edgy work I did in the east Congo taking on some of the militias. That made some pretty nasty enemies
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
What makes you happy? 😃
Alec Ross@alecjross · Author, The Industries of the Future
@ems_hodge This question! Here are 5 more things 1. Playing sports with my kids 2. Cooking 3. Eating (do you see a trend here) 4. Playing racketball and 5. Traveling someplace I've never been before...
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · PMM @Twitter // Previously @ProductHunt
Noting your knowledge on the "industries of the future", which, do you believe, are the cities of the future? In America, or otherwise.
Alec Ross@alecjross · Author, The Industries of the Future
@andrewmettinger So glad you asked that! Bottom line: I think there will be 10-15 global foci for the innovations of the future, maybe 3 of which are in the USA. There's a chapter about this in my book (http://alecross.com/the-industri...) and an excerpt here https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/s...
Corley@corleyh · COO @ Product Hunt
Hi @alecjross. Thanks for joining us today. When you think about the intersection of technology and government - what do you think the biggest opportunity is?
Cuan-Chai Megghross@iamcuan · Angel Investor, Brainyloft
@alecjross I live in Philadelphia, however I am from Jamaica -- how can small caribbean countries build, innovate and compete with power houses like the US and China?
Alec Ross@alecjross · Author, The Industries of the Future
@iamcuan I don't think "compete" should be the goal. I think that the goal should be to start a business that builds a product or service that people around the world want and buy. I think that trying to compete with a country with 1.3 billion people (China) and the world's center of innovation (USA) is not the short-term goal. The short-term goal should be the creation of a strong business that scales outside of the region
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
What startup are you most fascinated by and why?
Alec Ross@alecjross · Author, The Industries of the Future
@alexcartaz Let me give you two: Mark43 and Andela. Mark43 is re-inventing law enforcement by giving local law enforcement the kinds of tools normally reserved for the likes of MI5 of the FBI. I believe that this will create less police harassment, less targeting based on race, and a better job of identifying real criminals. I introduced the CEO, Scott Crouch to David Petraeus (who knows a thing or two about security analytics) and he was so impressed he invested. I did the same with Eric Schmidt (who knows a lot about data science) and he did the same. Andela represents the best of how the technology community can fuel the development of Africa with a private sector model. Check them out here http://www.andela.com/
Carmen@macclabs · travel writer, cofounder
Hi Alec, what do you think will the speed of the internet / technology increase in the next 10 years- double, tripple ...?
Alec Ross@alecjross · Author, The Industries of the Future
@theleanpioneer today, February of 2016, we live in a world of 16 billion networked devices. By 2020 that number will be 40 billion. Given this slope, the speed of technology will increase far more than just double or triple. It will be UNRECOGNIZABLE in 10 years to what we have today
Manuel Meneses Namihira@manuel_meneses · Social Innovator, co-founder @Cirklomx
Hi Alec! What is the best path you think there is to tackle inequality in the future, and what role will technology play?
Alec Ross@alecjross · Author, The Industries of the Future
@manuel_meneses I have a decided non-sexy answer to this ---- I think we need to reform vocational education and community college so that they are more focused on the industries of the future. They serve very vulnerable parts of the population, and I think they could get hurt in the next wave of automated labor if they aren't reformed. The other thing I would say is tax code reform. It's INSANE that the wealthiest Americans often pay lower tax rates than the middle class. Our tax system is fundamentally unjust, and it's unjust because it is so complicated and riddled with loopholes
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What's something you've changed your mind about in the last year?
Alec Ross@alecjross · Author, The Industries of the Future
@jakecrump Well, for one thing I never thought the Republican party would nominate a fascist to be president, but they might.
Theoharis Dimarhos@theo_dimarhos · Marketing+Biz Dev at AngelouEconomics
Hi Alec! How do you see charities and charity giving evolving in the future?
Alec Ross@alecjross · Author, The Industries of the Future
@theo_dimarhos I have spent more time working in the nonprofit/charity sector than I have in either government or business so this is something I care a lot about. I think that the one way in which they should evolve (note should, not will) is there needs to be more consolidation. There are too many itty bitty little charitable organizations have tiny impacts but having a full-time staff. The charitable world needs to become more business-like, while continuing to serve the public good
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
Hi Alec. I'd love to know more about your thoughts on robots and their role in industry in the next few years?
Alec Ross@alecjross · Author, The Industries of the Future
@ems_hodge The robots from the cartoons and movies of the 1970s will be the reality of the 2020s. Look for them to go from doing work that is merely manual and routine to work that is cognitive and non-routine. What that means is that robotic labor is going to go from just being blue collar labor to also becoming white collar labor which is a BFD
Cuan-Chai Megghross@iamcuan · Angel Investor, Brainyloft
@alecjross What future technological innovation do you think will be disastrous for the American middle class?
Alec Ross@alecjross · Author, The Industries of the Future
@iamcuan hmmmm....I'd say that blockchain technology is going to nearly eliminate the need for paralegals and wipe out big chunks of the legal profession. That's bad for people with these jobs (who are middle class) but it will also create consumer surplus that benefits the middle class
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
What does a typical work day look like for you?
Alec Ross@alecjross · Author, The Industries of the Future
@jakecrump I really don't have one. My life is kind of bananas. In 2015 I probably traveled to 20+ countries and no one day looked anything like the next, except when I was writing, in which case a typical day had me unshaven, in sweats at my computer. Interrupting myself to go for a run/work-out and eat. Then the kids come home and I make dinner
Alex Carter@alexcartaz · Operations @ 60dB. Ex-PH Podcasts 😻
If Silicon Valley and the federal government collaborated to help solve one problem with an infusion of technical know-how and development, what do you think the most important problem would be and why?
Alec Ross@alecjross · Author, The Industries of the Future
@alexcartaz I think they need to work together to counter violent extremism and ISIS recruiting. I am NOT in favor of creating mandatory backdoors into encrypted technology as FBI Director Comey is, but I do recognize that the reason that Al Qaeda dwelled in caves and ISIS holds physical territory and is openly recruiting is at least partially because in Al Qaeda's hayday they didn't have social media. By contrast, ISIS does a great job using social media and using the American technology industry's communication tools to recruit. we've got to work together to counter that
Jake Crump@jakecrump · Community Team with Product Hunt
Who are some of your role models?
Alec Ross@alecjross · Author, The Industries of the Future
@jakecrump here are three: 1. Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America and Teach for All. 2. Walter Isaacson who runs the Aspen Institute and well-known author 3. Sheryl Sandberg. Triple threat: government, private sector, author/influencer