Vivek Wadhwa speaks in Milwaukee Thursday.
Vivek Wadhwa speaks in Milwaukee Thursday.

8 questions for Vivek Wadhwa

The Milwaukee Jewish Federation expects another sell-out crowd at its Economic Forum 2016 today, Oct. 27, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., at The Pfister Hotel. This year's event features Vivek Wadhwa as the keynote speaker, a futurist who is recognized as Silicon Valley’s most provocative voice for his ideas on technology trends, globalization and U.S. competitiveness.

In preparation for his visit to Milwaukee, via e-mail, I asked Wadhwa a few questions.

OnMilwaukee: Define success.  

Vivek Wadhwa: Success is making other people’s lives better, solving real problems.

What do you know Milwaukee? And what’s your perception of the Midwest compared to the coasts?

The weather sucks, but costs are lower, people are more humble and down to earth, and there are greater opportunities to build great startups with much less competition.

Fin-tech or health-tech: What’s hotter, and which has more opportunity to shake up its space?

Fin-tech is one of the many advancing technologies. There is a lot happening in finance, but the opportunities are even greater in fields such as medicine, robotics, digital manufacturing, deep learning and data analysis, next-generation transportation. Many technologies are now advancing on exponential curves and making it possible to turn science fiction into a reality. Frankly, when you can save the world, who really cares about finance?

Four suggestions to improve Twitter?

Get new management that understands its users. Right now, you have a bunch of elite frat boys who are suffering from group think. These people don’t know the opportunities outside Silicon Valley, the needs of the majority of its user base. Fix this, and the users will come.

What are reading now?

Drafts of my own book! Have been working for the past six weeks on the final version of my upcoming book, "The Driver in the Driverless Car: How Our Technology Choices Will Create the Future." The book discusses the amazing advances that are happening in technology and the two possible outcomes: Star Trek or Mad Max. Our choices will set the path.

What do you want us to learn from "Innovating Women: The Changing Face of Technology?"

That innovation thrives in diversity. By excluding half of our population from leadership positions in business and technology, we are holding our own economy back. Women are the key to building the Star Trek future because they understand the needs of humanity better than the boys club does.

Three daily habits that you can’t miss?

I am no one to lecture anyone on this. Haven’t been working out, meditating and balancing my life the way I would like to preach!

Favorite TV/streaming show that you’re currently watching?

I stopped watching TV about five years ago. The news comes to me online, and I watch YouTube news clips and lectures when they seem interesting.

Following Wadhwa's keynote speech today is a panel discussion with Milwaukee business leaders, including Tina Chang, CEO of SysLogic, Inc., and Mike Gousha, Distinguished Fellow in Law and Public Policy at Marquette University Law School.

"The Milwaukee Jewish Federation organizes the Economic Forum to hold a community conversation about the economy," said Hannah Rosenthal, CEO and president of MJF. "Having renowned futurist Vivek Wadhwa deliver the keynote speech is an excellent opportunity for this conversation. And our local panel of business leaders brings it all home."


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