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Imagining the Future: The Surprising Impact of Accelerating Technology - Introduction

Walker Digital chairman Jay Walker, best known as the inventor of Priceline.com, was the featured speaker at the October 4, 2011 opening banquet for the fall meeting of the National Academies’ Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable (GUIRR) at the Embassy Suites – Convention Center in Washington, DC. The meeting focused on "The Impact of Social Networking and Crowdsourcing on Research, the Enterprise, and the Workforce.”

Mr. Walker delivered an address titled “Imagining the Future: the surprising impact of accelerating technology.” The first surprise, he asserted, is that social media and digital technology are simply the opening salvos in a broader communications, economic and technical revolution that constitutes a brand-new “architecture of civilization.” Even more surprising, he asserted, this revolution is already having an across-the-board impact comparable to the global shift over the last 75 years from mostly rural to mostly city-based populations.

In our complex and unpredictable digital communications ecosystem, Walker said, the most critical responsibility of today’s science and policy leaders is also surprising. Rather than seeking to master the intricacies of Twitter or Facebook, he suggested, the current generation of leaders should leave these details to younger staff members. Meanwhile, leaders should seek to infuse their organizations’ use of ever-changing new technologies with the timeless, core values of good science: open-mindedness, integrity, transparency, rigorous proof, and devotion to public service.

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