Several interesting theories were batted about in a wide-ranging discussion about today’s hot technologies that took place last week at a quarterly salon hosted by the AT&T Foundry in Palo Alto, Calif. The parameters of the official topic, how society will handle the issues of privacy and safety created by the coming wave of new technology, quickly expanded to include a lively debate about what is coming, when is it coming, and how the heck will people make money off of it.
The AT&T Foundry’s salon, tagged FutureCast, follows a standard format (this was the second such event I attended). The Foundry invites about 50 startup founders, academics, executives of local tech companies, journalists, and public officials “to vet, to debate, and ultimately to spark ideas that will set the course for [the] collective technology future.” The attendees mingle over drinks for about an hour, chatting with each other or looking at demos from a few still-quasi-stealth startups. Then they gather in a semicircle around moderator Andrew Keen and an invited guest of honor, in this case, David Hornik, a venture capitalist with August Capital. The discussion starts with questions directed at the guest, then widens to include the entire group. In reporting on this discussion, I am using only company identifications for speakers beyond Keen and Hornik