MILWAUKEE — Futurist Vivek Wadhwa writes columns for the Washington Post about what comes next, about where technology is headed and how it can be harnessed.
He doesn’t typically discuss Israel. He’s never been there (he hopes to visit “in a few months”). But when asked about how Israel fits into his vision for the future, he turns enthusiastic. The Jewish state is better positioned for the next wave in technological innovation than Silicon Valley is, Wadhwa said.
Wadhwa interviewed with the Chronicle before his speech at the Milwaukee Jewish Federation’s sell-out lunchtime crowd at its Economic Forum 2016 on Thursday, Oct. 27, at the The Pfister Hotel, 424 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. Wadhwa said the original Israel “start-up nation” idea, that the tiny nation would become another Silicon Valley, was oversold. Israel hasn’t had the major success stories that Silicon Valley has, he said. But he said Silicon Valley is not positioned for the next technological wave like Israel is.
“If you look at the tech industry it tends to go in waves,” he said, noting that the era of young people dropping out of college to form social media start-ups is “over and done with.”
The next wave, he said, will be about converging technologies, requiring mathematics, engineering know-how and an understanding of the problems of the world.
“Well, guess which country has the advantage in this field?” he said. “Israel.”
The influx of Russian Jews has given Israel a talent-pool to draw from, he said.
“Israel knows the problems of the world better than anybody does,” he said. “Israel is primed to lead the next revolution.”
Silicon Valley has been obsessed with youth, he said. It’s expensive to live there and you have to pay “ridiculous salaries” for talent. Israel is not like that, he said.
“If I was an investor, the two places that I’d be looking at – Israel and India,” he said, noting that partnerships between Israel and India could be very effective. Israel could be helpful to India.
“It doesn’t have the discipline that Israel has.”