Speaker: Dave King
Facilitated Innovation: How knowledge integrators and technology can work together to stack the odds in favor of big discoveries
Many important discoveries have been, and will be, achieved through specialization, focus, and incremental linear effort, but many of the “big” discoveries made throughout history have often been the result of serendipitous cross-disciplinary lateral thinking. Whether it’s Gutenberg inventing the printing press after seeing a wine press, or Harvard astronomers realizing they could use MRI tools to unlock the secrets of supernovas, the “ah-ha” moment when we realize that existing things can be used in new and novel contexts is one of the key ways that innovation happens. Unfortunately, this often relies on serendipity.
In this talk we’ll explore how technology platforms can be specifically designed to facilitate these sorts of ah-ha moments by combining emerging trends in data science with the power of large-scale social networks. However, it is a fallacy to think that technology alone will bridge disciplinary silos and unlock innovative potential. These technologies are just tools - tools to be wielded by “knowledge integrators” that curate, broker, and translate disparate domains to form new ontological pathways along which new ideas can travel. More than just a conceptual talk, we’ll see how these principles are being put into practice by The Gates Foundation, The Cohen Foundation, and the University of Oklahoma through the implementation of “cognitive networks” that connect researchers across disciplines, organizations, and projects as they search for solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges. These different organizations all share a common perspective: that the difficult problems we are attempting to solve today will not be solved by a single researcher or single lab, but will require coordinated collaborative effort across larger teams of increasing heterogeneity. This talk focuses on the tools and people we need in order to support this new way of working together.
Dave King, Founder & CEO, Exaptive, has been involved in high-tech entrepreneurship since the early 1990s. A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science and a humanities concentration in the social sciences, Dave has spent 20+ years working in software development – from system architecture and large-scale database design, to the psychology of user interfaces, to the management of software development teams. Dave first helped pioneer paperless manufacturing information systems in the electronics industry, then focused on designing software platforms for ad-hoc data analysis. In 2011, Dave saw the need for a more modular and cross-disciplinary approach to data science and founded Exaptive in order to pursue ways that technology and community can be combined to facilitate innovation. In 2015, his company was named by Gartner as one of five Cool New Vendors in the Life Sciences, and selected by the Bloor Group as one of the top 10 technologies to watch. Dave is also a photographer and author, and speaks internationally about data, technology, and the future of innovation.
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