April 10, 2014

Experts peer into the high-tech, digital future

Jim Cavalieri
Fontejon Photography
Jim Cavalieri '91, senior vice president at Salesforce, left, leads a panel discussion at CSV 14.
Jeff Hancock
Fontejon Photography
Jeff Hancock, professor of communication and co-chair of Information Science, speaks with CSV guests.
Fontejon Photography
Fontejon Photography
CSV 14: The Future Is Cornell was held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Three trends will likely shape the future of business: mobile technology, cloud computing and the “Internet of things” – everyday physical objects communicating through the Internet, according to presenters at “CSV 14: The Future Is Cornell,”Cornell Silicon Valley’s 14th annual conference April 1.

Panelists addressed, for example, software trends and the lightning-fast advancements in application development and the evolving landscape of venture capital, search technology and the future of lying.

“Digitization is going to make the entire world editable,” said Jeff Kowalski ’88, chief technology officer at Autodesk. “Imagine a 3-D printer for living things, such as our organs and DNA laser printing for genomics research like that from Cambrian genomics.”

Another growth area is mobile technology, said Jim Cavalieri ’91, senior vice president at Salesforce. “The phone in your hand, the consumer products in your home and the car you drive will all evolve dramatically, thanks to mobile advancements,” which may include a wireless toothbrush that transmits oral health information, he said.

But how truthful are we when using our various devices? Jeffrey Hancock, professor of communication and co-chair of Information Science, presented his research findings on deception. “Most people lie once a day and lie the most on the phone,” said Hancock, noting we often say we are “on our way” when we haven’t yet left – an adaptation to our always-on world.

In his remarks on higher education, Cornell President David Skorton said “access and affordability” were key issues, and he emphasized higher education’s contribution to local and regional economies, such as the New York City-based Cornell Tech.

Other insights from CSV 14:

  • Google senior vice president Amit Singhal, M.S. ’95, Ph.D. ’97, walked the audience through 15 years of search history and said searches will anticipate consumers’ needs and resemble a conversation rather than query.
  • Cornell students eager to join the tech world were advised to take courses that involve mobile trends, software engineering and computer science. “We need two times as many computer scientists, and I’d like to hire all of them,” said Nanda Kishore, M.S. ’85, chief technology officer at ShareThis.
  • Haym Hirsh, dean of Computing and Information Science, talked about building machines that exhibit intelligence.
  • A new wave of genetic industries, drugs to treat cancer via gene therapy and digital health companies that interface with the consumer are on the way, said Ed Hurwitz ’85, founder and managing director of Precision Bioventures.

Almost two dozen speakers and 650 Cornell alumni, parents and friends attended the conference.

Nancy Tomkins ’77 is principal at Words By Design in Menlo Park, Calif.