The Post-Industrial Summit 2024: Entering the era of AI transformation

February 8, 2024

Scheduled for February 28-29, 2024, in Menlo Park, CA, the Post-Industrial Summit explores AI’s role in the future of business. 

The Post-Industrial Summit 2024 is hosted by the Post-Industrial Institute and SRI International in Menlo Park, California. 

The summit features insights from executives and experts from organizations such as leaders at AWS, SAP, Salesforce, SRI, Broadcom, Swisscom, Deloitte, Accenture, Yamaha, Marubeni, Mitsubishi, ServiceNow, Stanford University, and other esteemed organizations.

Delegates represent a hugely diverse selection of companies such as VMWare, Oracle, Deloitte, CA Systems, Swisscom, Amazon, Travelers Insurance, Tech Mahindra, Accenture, Vision, Orion Innovation, HPE, Dell (CVC), NETGEAR. Cisco, Stride, NEA, Synopsis, Fanatics, Rakuten, and others. Universities represented include USC, Golden Gate University, Stanford, Laval University, and UC Santa Cruz.

Sessions will provide frameworks and best practices for developing next-generation AI to drive innovation in the post-industrial age. 

Attendees will learn how to implement responsible and ethical AI systems that automate processes, enable data-driven decisions, optimize operations, and unlock new growth opportunities.

This summit goes beyond technological discussions to explore the larger economic context driving AI advancement today. 

It’s an opportunity for leaders to collaborate on AI’s transformative impact and build the businesses of tomorrow. 

AI in the post-industrial age

The Post-Industrial Institute (PII) was established in 2004 by Frode Odegard.

Its core mission is to help leaders build the organizations of the future. 

Originally from Norway, Odegard arrived in Silicon Valley with a strong passion for theoretical computer science. There, he founded a research and advisory firm that helped major organizations adopt software engineering best practices.

Odegard observed the difficulty these organizations had with innovation and change, leading to the formation of the Post-Industrial Institute (PII) in 2004.

In 2019, PII introduced the Post-Industrial Forum, which has hosted over 45 events, drawing participation from executives across leading global firms like Hyundai, Microsoft, and Siemens and academic institutions like Stanford. 

Beyond the Fourth Industrial Revolution

At the core of the PII’s work is the observation that we are in a post-industrial transition.

This concept extends beyond existing narratives like “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” offering a broader, longer-term, more multidisciplinary remit. 

To the PII, the potential of generative AI transcends classical notions of ‘digital transformation,’ representing a deeper collaboration between humans and machines. AI is no longer a static entity – it’s actively augmenting human capabilities, fostering an era of super-productivity. 

While the opportunities are huge, this poses practical challenges for businesses looking to adapt to the era of generative AI. 

As Odegard explains, 20 smart people using AIs can outcompete in terms of creativity hundreds (or thousands) of people working in a traditional hierarchical and slow-moving organization.”

The organizational transition Odegard speaks of is reminiscent of the generative AI industry itself. 

Key players, like Anthropic, Inflection, and Mistral, consist of small teams and were founded only recently. Mistral was founded in May 2023, and by December, it was remarkably valued at $2 billion.

Meanwhile, tech institutions like Microsoft, Amazon, and Google compete for stakes in these smaller, more agile companies. They’ve also learned that their slow, bureaucratic structures don’t always lend themselves well to generative AI regarding goals, decision-making, and resource allocation. 

That’s also partly why OpenAI employees didn’t want to be ‘absorbed’ into Microsoft amid the Sam Altman firing and rehiring and why Google’s board has been criticized as too cumbersome for generative AI R&D.

One OpenAI employee even told Business Insider that Microsoft was the “biggest and slowest” of all the tech companies; another said, “We all left these big corporations to move fast and build exciting things.”

The Post-Industrial Summit addresses these challenges, helping those building the organizations of the future leverage AI and transform faster – driving productivity from the bottom up.

Odegard explains, “AI has huge implications for the workforce and Human Resources.  Jobs will be richer because AI will augment what people can do. Ambitious generalists will be able to reach further and faster. Enterprises also urgently need more people with technical AI know-how, both to develop new applications and to have in-house expertise that can track the very rapid evolution of AI platform capabilities. The lack of AI literacy is a problem that stretches all the way into the boardroom, and this is a strategic threat to shareholder value.”

Humans and AI working together in networks

Odegard describes a future where AI agents act as coordinators and facilitators for these teams, creating dynamic networks of humans and AIs collaborating on projects. 

These networks could be assembled on-demand on a per-project basis and have transient lifespans. 

There’s an emerging duality in which humans can benefit from the unique strengths of both intelligent biological systems (ourselves) and intelligent technological systems (AI). 

Odegard says, “An emerging trend will be AIs as coordinators and facilitators of work, with humans and AIs working together, and even passing “control” back and forth. This capability is coming in the form of various kinds of AI agents, which can work to pursue goals (or uphold some desired state of affairs, like “optimal health”) on your behalf.”

We’ve seen examples of human-AI networks in recent breakthroughs at DeepMind and Microsoft. For instance, Microsoft discovered a new battery electrolyte, initially using an AI model to identify around 500,000 stable materials. 

These were then narrowed down to 18 promising candidates and, finally, N2116, which can reduce battery lithium content by some 70%. Microsoft estimated that AI slashed the project duration from 20 years to nine months. 

Similarly, DeepMind‘s GNoME system used a pair of models to create material structures by modifying elements in known materials and assessing their stability.

From GNoME’s shortlist of 421,000 stable materials, Berkeley Lab’s autonomous laboratory, named the A-Lab, determined the best candidates for physical synthesis. A-Lab successfully synthesized 41 out of 58 compounds.

DeepMind has already built sophisticated AI agents that learn by watching instructors, and ChatGPT collaborated with Swiss researchers to create a tomato-harvesting robot, suggesting a motor-driven silicone-linked gripper for gently pulling tomatoes from the vine and providing Python code for programming the device.

The boundaries between human and technological contributions to knowledge and research are blurring. 

These kinds of semi-autonomous technologies preview a future where AI and humans sit in a continuous feedback loop, reciprocating information and bouncing off each other’s strengths.

Adapting to new paradigms

The Post-Industrial Summit is designed to respond to these developments and challenges directly. 

It aims to equip leaders from traditional and innovative backgrounds with insights and strategies for effectively leveraging generative AI across their business functions.

The focus is not merely exploring AI but its practical, problem-solving applications, addressing concerns such as technology integration, ethics, and the management of decentralized working styles.

This is a technology where risk, reward, challenge, and opportunity are finely balanced. Taking affirmative action now is the best way of tilting that balance in one’s favor. 

Odegard summarizes, “Traditional management thinking has no answers for this, but we are making progress on developing post-industrial management science. A central aspect of the Summit is to build a community of leaders who want to explore these ideas further.”

Speakers from the Post-Industrial Summit 2024

The summit brings together 32+ speakers from leading organizations, including, but certainly not limited to:

  • Alfred Shen: Lead Generative AI Specialist at Amazon Web Services (AWS).
  • Dr. Sohini Roychowdhury: Global Head of AI at Accenture.
  • Jeremiah Owyang: General Partner at Blitzscaling Ventures, AI Fund.
  • Frode Odegard: CEO of the Post-Industrial Institute.
  • Dr. Edgar Kalns: Specialist Leader, Conversational AI and Generative AI at Deloitte Consulting.
  • Dr. Trond Undheim: Research Scholar at the Stanford Existential Risk Initiative.
  • Col. David Vernal (Ret.): Sloan Fellow at Stanford GSB, Former National Security Council.
  • Laureen Knudsen: Chief Transformation Officer at Broadcom.

Highlights from the event’s agenda

This two-day event features hours of keynotes and talks, breakout sessions, fireside chats, and networking opportunities. Here are some highlights from the exciting schedule:

  • The New Transformation Landscape: Dr. Trond Undheim and Col. David Vernal (Ret.) discuss navigating the complexities of today’s global situation with AI, moderated by Frode Odegard.
  • AI and The Post-Industrial Enterprise: Frode Odegard explores how decentralization and AI are reshaping organizational structures.
  • Transformation in the Global 2000s: Laureen Knudsen examines large enterprise transformation efforts and the impact of technologies like Generative AI.
  • Industries in Transformation: Insights from Jay Onda, Kei Onishi, and Dr. Zafer Sahinoglu on how AI is revolutionizing various industries, chaired by Deborah Magid.
  • The Future of AI Platforms: Alfred Shen discusses the upcoming capabilities and limitations of AI platforms, focusing on the advancements beyond Generative AI.
  • AIs as the Interface to Organizations: A panel with Julianna DeLua, Dr. Sohini Roychowdhury, and Dr. Edgar Kalns on how AIs are becoming the front of enterprise operations.
  • Faster Innovation with AI Assistants: William Zeng and Alfred Shen, chaired by Stefan Petzov, explore AI’s role in enhancing innovation and product development speed.
  • The AI Boom: Jeremiah Owyang delves into AI’s significant economic and cultural impacts, predicting dramatic changes in productivity and lifestyle.

Key information about the Post-Industrial Summit 2024

  • Date: February 28-29, 2024
  • Venue: SRI International, Menlo Park, CA
  • Focus: The summit aims to delve into AI’s transformative role in organizations, offering enterprise leaders the opportunity to connect, discover AI’s enterprise impact, and build an AI transformation roadmap.

For registration details, session schedules, and more information on the speakers and topics, please visit the Post-Industrial Summit 2024 website.

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Sam Jeans

Sam is a science and technology writer who has worked in various AI startups. When he’s not writing, he can be found reading medical journals or digging through boxes of vinyl records.


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