Learn More About Jason Pontin
From quantum computing to the latest breakthroughs in precision medicine, the world is awash in technological promises. Considering the sheer volume of current and emerging innovations, it is often difficult to decide where to direct our attention— and investment dollars.
Jason Pontin, internationally renowned futurist, journalist, and partner at DCVC, the world’s leading deep technology venture capital firm, has been educating audiences on how to successfully navigate technological and cultural changes for more than two decades. His influential TED Talk, “Can Technology Solve Our Big Problems?,” which has been viewed more than 1.6 million times, illustrates his optimism about what the world can be if we work collectively. He offers organizations a clear-eyed view of the opportunities and potential downsides of rapid technological changes in such areas as energy, life sciences, health, and computing, advocating for putting more decisions in the hands of people, not just the powerful.
When delving into such topics as artificial intelligence, advanced energy alternatives, and gene editing, Pontin, the newly appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors of Strateos, a pioneer in the development of remote access laboratories and lab automation software for life science discovery, often poses ethical questions, and he sees powerful breakthroughs on the horizon as a result of the social and political shifts brought on by the pandemic.
“Given the enormous appetite for innovation, I believe that within the next 10 years, we will see more rapid development to solve long-standing human problems than we saw during the personal computer era or the start of the biological revolution,” says Pontin, the former CEO and editor-in-chief of MIT Technology Review. “Even today, when someone tells me an important problem is impossible to solve, my response is, ‘Nothing is impossible until it’s been disproven. If a solution to a problem would have enormous value, tell me the killer experiments you’d run to prove or disprove your hypothesis.’”
As the first investor in Totus Medicines and a founding board member of Menten.AI, Pontin funds companies that solve urgent global challenges in diverse areas ranging from health, to agriculture, to manufacturing. With his finger on the pulse of change, Pontin is excited about the possibilities ahead, but also cautious, stressing the importance of keeping equity, safety, and privacy in mind when developing and investing in new technologies.
“Powerful technologies seem to be descending from the sky like magic, capable of changing the trajectory of the human species,” says Pontin. “We need to engage in rich conversations about how they are going to be used, and that conversation must be citizen-led.”
Before joining DCVC, Jason Pontin was chair of the MIT Enterprise Forum, senior partner and senior advisor at Flagship Pioneering, and founder of MIT Solve, the Institute’s open innovation platform that distributes capital and other resources to solve big challenges. During his time at MIT, he established the MIT Technology Review’s influential annual 10 Breakthrough Technologies awards. His journalism has appeared in WIRED, The New York Times and The Economist.
Pontin received his bachelor’s and master’s in humanities at Keble College, Oxford University.
Jason Pontin is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group.