By: Aditya Srinivasan
A sudden silence enveloped the room. The forty-something members of the audience, students and faculty alike, sat dumbfounded and utterly mystified by the man addressing them. As the words spun from his mouth, they wove inspiration and fear, at the same time, into the minds of the audience.
This man was Vivek Wadha, a highly accomplished technology entrepreneur, delivering a 50-minute presentation encompassing the breadth of his vision regarding the future of technology. Wadhwa is a highly revered member of the Valley, earning recognition as an “Outstanding American by Choice” from the U.S. Government, being named second on a list of “ten men worth emulating” in the Financial Times, and earning a spot in the list of the “Top 100 Global Thinkers” by Foreign Policy Magazine. The tech guru addressed his audience inside the auditorium of Plug & Play Tech Center, an early stage investment firm and incubator in Silicon Valley.
He began his oration on a familiar note, as he spoke of the proliferation of technology over the last few decades and its large impact on humanity. He discussed the evidence of Moore’s Law, the famous claim that the surface density of transistors on integrated circuits doubles every 18 – 24 months, and how its validity has allowed computing power that used to require acres of physical space to fit in the palm of ours hands. He radiated optimism as he asserted that growth in technology is exponential.
And so was the pace of his talk. As a researcher, Wadhwa performs cutting-edge exploration into new technologies, particular within the field of artificial intelligence. After a brief discourse of the state of current technology, he began to leave the realm of the familiar and venture into the strange land of the unfathomable. The students in the room inched closer to the edge of their chairs, as Wadha discussed digital doctors, 3D-printed organisms, sentient artificial assistants, and quantum computing. There was a brewing sense of awe and trepidation in what the future held, which was only heightened as Wadhwa spoke of the oncoming era of superintelligence, manifest in the hybridization of humans and robots. He stood as the harbinger of the scary truth, and captivated every individual in that room.
It was to experience the surreal, the marriage of what is and what is dreamt of.