Alec Ross

February 17, 2016 – Leading technology and innovation expert Alec Ross this week visited the McCourt School to discuss his new book, Industries of the Future, and describe the ways in which technology is likely to shape society within the next decade and beyond. 

Ross’s message largely focused on that of the rapid and often times uncomfortable change to come, as an increasing number of jobs are supplanted, reasonable expectation of privacy is diminished, and socioeconomic status becomes a driving determinant of overall success or failure. 

Policymakers, he said, have an opportunity – albeit a challenging one – to adapt and begin curing these ills.

He stressed the need for the federal government to address its “broken” procurement process and outmoded regulatory environment in order to keep pace with innovations put forth by a dynamic private sector. 

In addition, he noted, the capacity to govern “in a traditional hierarchical way is significantly diminished in an increasingly interconnected world. Today’s best leaders are those who do not try to have a command and control approach.”

Despite its perils and uncertainties, Ross said that innovation’s aggregate benefit to this point has been “overwhelmingly positive,” as reflected by the number of people lifted of poverty worldwide in recent years.

Ross’s insights are informed in part by his experiences traveling to 41 countries while serving as Senior Advisor for Innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to explore trends and challenges posed by globalization.

The event was hosted by the McCourt School and the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation, with support from the Master of Science in Foreign Service program. The conversation was moderated by Dr. Hollie Russon Gilman, Visiting Scholar with the Beeck Center and Adviser and Coordinator of McCourt’s Data for Social Good program, within the Massive Data Institute.