Keynote: Ramez Naam

Eight Things Disruptors Do Differently

Monday, May 10, 2021


As Charles Darwin once said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Here, Naam connects the dots between the tremendous technological advances of the last 20 years and the arrival of powerhouses that shattered industries by simply getting there first.


Taking an honest look at the risk involved in paving new ground, he shares the eight things innovators do differently, including innovating from the bottom up and empowering teams to fail, embracing the network effect in a way that creates natural barriers for competition, and having the guts to disrupt themselves.


Packed with humorous anecdotes and high-energy visuals, Naam’s talk will have your audience gripped, thinking through new ideas they can explore in their own lives, and reevaluating the future of their industry.



Ramez Naam is a computer scientist, investor, award-winning author, and one of the day’s leading voices on disruptive energy technologies. He is currently Energy Co-Chair at Singularity University.


Dynamic and personable, Naam speaks around the world, captivating audiences as he illustrates “what disruption looks like.” A perfect blend of entertainment and insight, he talks about innovation, exponential technologies (AI, robotics, drones, 3D printing, biotechnology, and more), and how organizations can adapt and thrive in this new era. Naam also specializes in the disruption that clean energy and related technologies are bringing to the $6 trillion energy, transportation, food, and water industries. His talks focus mainly on preparing audiences for both the incredible challenges of those transitions and the immense opportunities they bring with them.


Naam’s seminal 2011 Scientific American article, “Smaller, Cheaper, Faster” observed that the price of solar power was dropping exponentially and would eventually be lower than that of any other energy source. He’s since detailed the exponential trends in wind power, energy storage, and electric vehicles.


In addition to his energy analysis, Naam is an investor in numerous startups in the fields of energy, sustainability, and AI; an advisor to multiple fortune 500 energy and transportation companies; and a board member of the cleantech investing group E8 Angels.


Before turning to energy, he spent 13 years at Microsoft, where he led teams working on efforts in email, web browsing, cloud computing, search, and AI. His software, including his work on early versions of Microsoft Outlook and Internet Explorer, has touched the lives of more than a billion people. He holds more than 20 patents in the fields of information retrieval and machine learning — including several as co-inventor with Bill Gates.


In addition to his work at Microsoft, Naam is the award-winning author of five books, including the science fiction series Nexus. Naam’s books have won the Prometheus Award, the Endeavour Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, and his 2015 book Nexus: Install was named one of NPR’s Best Books of the Year. In addition to the Nexus trilogy, he is the author of The Infinite Resourcee: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet and More Than Human. Naam’s work has appeared in or been quoted in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Atlantic, Slate, Business Week, Discover, Wired, and Scientific American. He's spoken to corporate, government, and non-profit audiences on 6 continents around the world.