Seattle 2035 Reading List: Stories to Get You Ready for Friday

We’re four days away from Seattle 2035, Xconomy’s exploration of the future of our region’s innovation economy. The topics, companies, and individuals we will focus on at this unique event are very much in the news.

We’ve highlighted a handful of stories to get you primed for an interactive discussion on everything from artificial intelligence to virtual reality to energy storage to big questions about the livability of Seattle.

Tickets are still available, and there’s a Halloween discount, as well as reduced rates for startups, students, and people only able to attend morning or afternoon sessions. Check out our packed agenda and register here.

Then get ready to discuss the future. Here’s some reading to get started:

—Google is employing an artificial intelligence system called RankBrain to interpret search queries that have never been made before—some 15 percent of the searches performed daily, according to this report from BloombergBusiness: “Google Turning Its Lucrative Web Search Over to AI Machines.”

Oren Etzioni, CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, had this to say on Twitter:

Etzioni is giving a keynote talk on AI in 2035 at the event Friday. We’ve also got a panel of experts in machine learning—Dragos Margineantu from Boeing Research & Technology; Deep Dhillon, CTO of Socrata; and Kieran Snyder, co-founder and CEO of Textio—to discuss how the technology is being used today. And another AI luminary, Eric Horvitz of Microsoft Research, will put this technology in the context of the Seattle area’s broader core IT expertise, in conversation with University of Washington computer science professor Ed Lazowska.

—Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman’s thoughtful, data-rich essays about the way the tech industry’s growth is changing cities are must-reads for people thinking about the long term. After Amazon’s hard-driving workplace culture came under close scrutiny this summer, he offered much-needed perspective: “In an instant, we forgot that many Americans outside of high technology have to work two jobs, driving for Uber and washing dishes for Applebee’s, all while trying to raise their kids. We forgot that the least the folks in tech can do when we’re paid so much is to work hard for it.”

Kelman actually praises Amazon’s grit in that piece, but leavens it with a call for balance: “There must be a way to practice this discipline that is still humble and humane, that balances our love for our family and for the world around us with our life’s work. Striking such a balance isn’t easy, for an individual much less an entire company.”

Earlier this month, data from the online real estate brokerage and technology company was cited in a story in The New York Times to illustrate Seattle’s tech-boom-induced soul-searching. As Kelman summarized it: “the largesse of Silicon Valley has come to cities like Seattle, Portland and Austin, bringing with it high-paying jobs and more tax revenues, but also new challenges to the city’s affordability and diversity.”

The Redfin data shows the percentage of Redfin home buyers from the Bay Area looking for homes in various other tech markets through the first half of 2015, compared to the first half of 2014. In Seattle, it was 5.2 percent this year, up 2.7 percentage points from 2014.

Kelman opens Seattle 2035 with a talk on “Creating a Livable Seattle for All.” We’re expecting some fresh Redfin data, and Kelman’s thoughtful ideas on growth to help us understand and plan for the bigger picture.

—A new “playbook” from the Washington Technology Industry Association indicates widespread concern about the tech industry’s poor showing on diversity, and the racial and economic disparities that result. Meanwhile, Trish Millines Dziko, whose organization has been working for two decades to help students of color gain science, technology, engineering, and math skills in preparation for college and tech careers, sees small companies and startups as promising first steps on the ladder into the industry.

One startup, Glowforge, has instituted a diversity bounty to … Next Page »

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Benjamin Romano is editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email him at bromano [at] xconomy.com. Follow @bromano

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