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Videos

  • Jason Pontin: Can technology solve our big problems?
    Jason Pontin: Can technology solve our big problems?
  • Jason Pontin: Deep Learning and the Future of Business
    Jason Pontin: Deep Learning and the Future of Business
  • Closing Keynote By Jason Pontin: Expanding Human Potential Through Technology
    Closing Keynote By Jason Pontin: Expanding Human Potential Through Technology
  • Stanley Chan (Chen Qiufan): The Waste Tide—looking back on the future | SOSV Climate Tech Summit
    Stanley Chan (Chen Qiufan): The Waste Tide—looking back on the future | SOSV Climate Tech Summit
  • Jason Pontin at Powering Progress Together
    Jason Pontin at Powering Progress Together
  • Jason Pontin: Civilizational Challenges of Our Time
    Jason Pontin: Civilizational Challenges of Our Time
  • Jason Pontin on Key Innovators and Entrepreneurs creating tomorrow | Amplify 2013
    Jason Pontin on Key Innovators and Entrepreneurs creating tomorrow | Amplify 2013
  • TEDxStLouis - Jason Pontin - Sustaining Media
    TEDxStLouis - Jason Pontin - Sustaining Media

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.”

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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 WIREDThe 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.

Jason Pontin was last modified: September 15th, 2022 by Justin Louis

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10 Breakthrough Technologies for 2022

Every year, Jason Pontin, a leading futurist and a partner at the venture capital firm DCVC, selects 10 emerging technologies he believes have the potential to transform business and society—how we live our lives. His technologies are always drawn from a wide variety of fields: computing, biotechnology, energy, and materials. With each technology, Jason identifies the innovators most responsible for the breakthrough, and provides an explicit timeline for commercialization. He describes the big problem that an innovator is trying to solve, dives deep into the solution, using clear, everyday language, and explains the likely impact.

Possibilities and Opportunities in The Metaverse

The applications of the metaverse are vast, but just because we can use it, should we? Renowned futurist, journalist, and venture capitalist Jason Pontin – partner at DCVC, the world’s leading deep technology venture capital firm – is skeptical about people hanging out and socializing in the metaverse, but he sees a ton of practical applications. As industries become increasingly automated, the immersive technology will be leveraged across sectors in a variety of ways, from assisting with agriculture, military and infrastructure projects to creating efficiencies in manufacturing and business operations. In this presentation, he discusses the possibilities and opportunities in the metaverse and helps participants understand which applications can benefit their industry and where its uses may be irrelevant, or even harmful.

How to Think Like a VC

Emerging technologies and new science are being turned into disruptive, commercial products and services at an unprecedentedly fast pace. Many of these products are based on fundamental breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, gene editing, and materials science. For ordinary people, navigating business and life, it can seem impossible to keep up with the latest ideas and their potential impact. Fortunately, there is a proven methodology, followed by all venture capitalists investing in fundamental advances, for distinguishing between hype and reality. Jason Pontin, a leading futurist and a partner at the venture capital firm DCVC, will teach your organization how the professionals think about the future.

The Future of Work

The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated a transformation in how people work, driven by the rapid evolution of online work environments, artificial intelligence, robotics, and data analytics. What will work be like when we return to our offices, factories, stores, or work from home? Almost every job and industry will be touched by the coming age of machine intelligence and automation; cities and factories will never look the same. Jason Pontin, a leading futurist and a partner at the venture capital firm of DCVC, will explore the present and future of workplace technologies in a presentation customized to your organization and industry.

The Future of AI

The breakthrough in artificial intelligence was a revolution 70 years in the making. The creation of rebel computer scientists and mathematicians who pursued an unconventional and disputed approach to machine learning called “deep learning,” modern AI is one of the most impactful technology revolutions in history. Most people have some inkling of how disruptive AI will be, but they don’t know its untold story. Jason Pontin, a leading futurist and a partner at DCVC, tells the story of how a group of unlikely innovators overturned the assumptions of their field. Pontin will explain what to expect next from AI, and how it will impact different industries.

The Future of Health

The 21st century will be the biological century. Fundamental and surprising discoveries about the human genome and the microbiome (the microbial life that evolved with us, which lives in and on our bodies) – combined with new techniques, artificial intelligence and gene-editing tools- are providing unprecedented insights into human health and diseases. We are learning why cells pass from health to disease, how our brains learn, why we age—and much more. Jason Pontin, a leading futurist and a partner at the venture capital firm of DCVC, will guide your organization through the transformative possibilities of the revolution in genetic medicine and its potential impact on our society and our lives.

The Future of Energy

Advanced alternative sources of energy like solar, wind and nuclear power are now cheaper than burning natural gas or coal in many parts of the world. But to finally wean humanity from its addiction to oil and natural gas will require two more revolutions: new ways to dispatch energy from where it’s generated to where it is needed, and new methods of creating polymers like plastics that don’t require chemical companies to crack hydrocarbons. Fortunately, innovators have created solutions to both problems: the wireless transmission of energy, and the production of novel biomaterials using microbes like bacteria or yeast. Jason Pontin, a leading futurist partner at the venture capital firm DCVC, will guide your organization through the revolution in alternative energy and its potential impact on our society and our lives.