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Dean Yortsos Speaks At Prestigious Technology Conference

USC Viterbi’s dean joins Google’s Eric Schmidt, author Deepak Chopra and other thought-leaders at Oasis: The Montgomery Summit.
By: Marc Ballon
March 11, 2014 —

USC Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos at Oasis: The Montgomery Summit
USC Viterbi School of Engineering Dean Yannis C. Yortsos spoke before a rapt audience on Wednesday, March 5 about the evolution of technology at the prestigious Oasis: The Montgomery Summit, a two-day, invitation-only event that brought together the nation’s thought-leaders in business, finance and technology.

In his address, Yortsos spoke about the rapidity of technological innovation and its implications. He defined technology as “exploiting phenomena for useful purposes”- which also includes the discovery of new phenomena itself. In terms of increasing complexity, engineers have exploited physical, chemical and more recently biological phenomena. In addition to the accelerated convergence of such phenomena, a next frontier for technology is social phenomena as well. Social media technologies from Facebook to Twitter, he said, are characteristic of these, and are bringing a convergence of the general social sciences and engineering, with digital media being the tools for such exploration. The novel ways of exploiting phenomena, he added, empower society as never before, in what he has termed engineering +.

Yortsos also provided a couple of simple mathematical models that allow one to derive both Moore’s law as well as the “singularity,” an idea proposed by author and futurist Ray Kurzweil. Yortsos showed that the two laws result depending on what assumption one makes about the dependence of the rate of technology evolution as a function of the current state of technology, as shown in the attached two slides. If the rate dependence is linear (evolution rate proportional to the current state of technology), then Moore’s law emerges. If it is quadratic (evolution rate proportional to the square of the current state of technology) a singularity is predicted for the future, in which the state of technology becomes extremely high. This simple mathematical model surprisingly predicts these two limiting behaviors, and a range-in-between.

Download the entire presentation here


Over 1,000 participants from around the world attended the inaugural Oasis Summit, which focused on creativity and innovation at the intersection of the technology and business worlds. It also featured a business plan competition, with promising early-stage companies seeking financing from audience members through a crowdsourcing platform.

The event was held March 5 - 6 at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica.

Speakers were a Who’s Who of the tech world, including Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, who predicted that robots would become omnipresent in our lives. Other distinguished speakers included renowned holistic health expert and author Deepak Chopra, Brazilian mining billionaire Bernardo Paz and Rob Goldman, Facebook’s director of growth and monetization.

The Oasis Summit is an outgrowth of the popular Montgomery Technology Conference, which from 2004 to 2013 was among the premier conferences for emerging growth private companies in the Internet, mobile, information technology and media sectors. Technology investor James Montgomery is the namesake of both events.