Uber CTO Salazar: Fifth Industrial Revolution coming

By Tori Fater
Evansville Courier & Press, Ind.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Oscar Salazar, co-founder of ridesharing service Uber says the fifth industrial revolution is coming. Salazar contends that preconceptions about how society, government, education and traditional institutions work are going to shift in the next 30 years.

Evansville Courier & Press, Ind.

The fifth Industrial Revolution is coming, Oscar Salazar told a crowd at the University of Southern Indiana on Tuesday night.

He cannot predict exactly what it will be, he said. But the entrepreneur and co-founder of ridesharing service Uber said he expects technology to disrupt multiple fields like health care and education.

“Change is unavoidable,” Salazar said. “It’s going to come, it’s going to happen. It’s going to make society more productive, but it’s going to change society forever. All these preconceptions about how society, government, education, traditional institutions work are going to be shifted in the next 30 years.”

Salazar was Uber’s original chief technical officer, as well as founder and CEO of Citivox, which helps people report crime and infrastructure problems. He’s now CTO and product officer for a ridesharing app similar to Uber called Ride, which focuses on matching commuters with carpools.

Salazar visited USI on Tuesday night as part of a Romain College of Business’ speaker series, which previously brought former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke and business magnate T. Boone Pickens to campus.

Because Salazar has worked in transportation, health care and other industries, Romain College Dean Mohammed Khayum said he hoped people across the spectrum of industries in the Tri-State could find relevance in Salazar’s presentation.

The purpose of the series is to bring people with insight into new technology to campus to help the audience think about innovation.

“If that stimulates their thinking and they probe a little more into how they can find ways to adapt and use what’s current in the world of technology in our region, that, I think, will be to the benefit of our region,” Khayum said.

In a presentation at the USI Physical Activities Center, Salazar laid out his philosophy as an entrepreneur, calling himself a “technologist” rather than a CEO or other job title.

He quoted writer William Gibson: “The future is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed.”

“When I was a kid, I said ‘I want to make the future evenly distributed’,” Salazar said.

He explained that the other four industrial revolutions, as he sees them, were about machinery, then organization of labor, then microchips and semiconductors, and finally bridging the gap between the online and offline worlds.

“Innovation comes in cycles,” he said.

Technology revolutions need three factors to start, he said. They need a platform, an application and an industry to disrupt. In Uber’s case, their platform was mobile phones, their application was a car dispatch system and the industry disrupted was the taxi industry.

Before opening the floor for questions, Salazar told the audience, many of them students, that technology cannot progress at a fast pace unless society accepts change.

“I believe in balance,” he said. “I believe that we need technological progress but we also have to evolve as a society.”

Technology can change people’s lives for the better, he said, but innovators need to focus on creating experiences, not just products and services.

“We need to make sure whatever we build improves the current experience,” Salazar said.

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