Alex Ross (WV Native) to Discuss his Book “The Industries of the Future”

by admin on March 31, 2016

Alex Ross is still a young man

Alex Ross (WV Native) to Discuss his Book “The Industries of the Future”

<<< Alex Ross who grew up in Charleston to speak there at Taylor Books  on Saturday at 6 pm >>>

From an Article by Anna Patrick, Charleston Gazette, March 27, 2016

Alec Ross has talked a lot about his book, “The Industries of the Future.”

In New York, San Francisco, even London, he’s rubbed elbows with business leaders and academic elites to discuss what the next wave of global innovation will bring. He’s talked complex robotics with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, debated the threats artificial intelligence will pose to the working world on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” and explained why the world’s next trillion-dollar industry will be built out of genetic code rather than computer code on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Even before his book made The New York Times best-sellers list in March, Ross has been in serious demand to speak and advise on innovation. He served four years as senior adviser for innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and is currently a distinguished visiting fellow at Johns Hopkins University.

Currently as an adviser to investors, companies and government leaders, Ross racks up a lot of air miles traveling from job to job. In 2015 alone, he took 25 trips abroad. “I work and live on a 196-country chess board,” Ross said.

But where on that giant chess board is he most excited to talk about his new book? That’s easy — his hometown: Charleston. “I’ve presented this book in London and in New York and in San Francisco, but I’m more excited to present it in Charleston than I have been in any other place,” he said.

Ross will be speaking at Taylor Books in downtown Charleston about his book, “The Industries of the Future,” at 6 p.m. Saturday. The event is free and refreshments will be provided along with alcoholic beverages for sale. He’ll be on hand after to chat and sign copies of the book.

Returning to Charleston with his first book, which was published in February by Simon & Schuster, is like returning to his inspiration. In a tragically beautiful way, it was West Virginia’s inability to move beyond its old, industrial economy, its failure to catch up with the last wave of technological and global innovation, that shaped Ross’ thinking and influenced the book’s creation.

During his four years working for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Ross traveled the globe. He visited companies developing advanced robotic technologies and came to understand how advancements in the life sciences will allow people to live longer while transforming the way we treat cancer and other disease. He saw first-hand how advancements in computer coding have transformed commerce while allowing for the fast-growing, disruptive weaponization of code.

In a way, Ross has seen the future. His unique position under the secretary of state allowed him to see what the next wave of innovation will bring. He’s not only written about the latest and greatest technology that will soon become mainstream, but he also tackles tough questions like: How will people adapt to the changing nature of work, and what do children need to know now to be prepared for jobs that don’t exist yet?

Ross said he’s hoping his book will go beyond giving business leaders and the academic elites a leg up. He didn’t write it for them. He wrote it for a much broader audience, for the kids coming of age in West Virginia, for his children’s generation. “People need information and tools to be able to make smart choices. This book is designed in part to give people the tools,” Ross said.

When Ross was graduating from George Washington High School in 1990 or attending college at Northwestern University in the early ’90s, he said, a book like “The Industries of the Future” didn’t exist. He wished it would have, wished a book could have thrown a stab at what the Internet revolution would bring.

“West Virginia was largely absent from the Internet economy. … I can’t help but think if more people in West Virginia had a glimpse that the Internet was going to change the world, they would have started Internet businesses.”

He’s hopeful that “The Industries of the Future” will help people living in places like West Virginia, places that missed out on the last wave of innovation, have a better understanding of what’s needed to make it in the next stage of globalization. “West Virginia struggled in the last stage of globalization, but it doesn’t have to struggle in the next stage,” Ross said.

He’s familiar with the fatalistic sentiment he’s seen often expressed by his fellow West Virginians — this attitude that if you want to get a leg up in the world, you have to leave the state. Or that everything went down the tubes when coal died, and there’s nothing we can do about it. He knows plenty of people who have left the state, and he knows others who have stayed and squandered talent.

“Here’s the key point for me: the kids that I grew up with in West Virginia, I believe, are made of the very same stuff that the people I worked with in the White House situation room are,” Ross said. “Talent is universally distributed, but opportunity is not.”

To hear Ross talk about the kind of opportunities and challenges the next wave of innovation in the coming 10 to 20 years will bring, listen to him speak at Taylor Books at 6 p.m. Saturday. For more information, contact Taylor Books at 304-342-1461.

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