Welcome to DisruptiCon

I’d like to begin by thanking you all for taking the time out of your busy lives changing the future to be here. This is, of course, one of the most important annual events in our field. And really, one of the most important events of the year, period. The world’s best minds are here, collaborating, communicating, dreaming, imagineering, and it’s my sincere pleasure to be the first presenter today.

Speaking of dreaming and imagineering, let me tell you about a vision I had. A vision of a better world for everyone. A world of unlimited freedom of information. A world of open access. Like many of you, I was at SouthwestExpo last year. When I was there, I saw something amazing.

A homeless woman pushing a cart and wearing a backpack.

Big deal, right? Who cares? A homeless person just like all the others, am I right? There are homeless people everywhere, contributing nothing, innovating nothing. But that’s not true. Your average indigent is innovating every day of their life. They have to to survive. A homeless person exists in a state of nature. It’s the perfect intersection of social Darwinism and plain old Darwinism. It’s a perfect metaphor for DisruptiCon: the strong survive. The strongest thrive. The weak, well, who cares what happens to them?

So I’m sitting at patio at a bar, enjoying the misters and the ice cold beer in my hand, and I see this lady pass by. I observe her. I interpret what I’m seeing. And then I get up and I go talk to her. I say, “Excuse me, Miss. May I have a moment of your time?” She doesn’t say anything, just looks me up and down for a moment in silence. I’m annoyed for a second. For a second, I think, “Oh, great. She doesn’t even speak English.” But just for a second. And then I realize what she’s doing. She’s observing. She’s interpreting.

Amazing, right? This smelly, dirty person has the hacker’s eye. She’s got that post-left technoanarchist spirit, and she doesn’t even realize it. Amazing.

And then out of nowhere she says to me, “Do you need internet access, Sir?”

My mind stops so hard, you can hear the brakes squealing. “Wait, what?”

She looked up and away like she was reciting from memory. “MobiMediaTech has authorized me to serve as a mobile wi-fi hotspot for them. The service is free in celebration of SouthwestExpo , although donations to our carriers are appreciated and strongly suggested.”

That’s when I realized that the cart was all her stuff, but the backpack was full of MobiMediaTech’s gear. It was absolutely brilliant, and I don’t mind saying that. The city’s full of homeless going about their business, anyway; why not slap a hotspot on their back and let them help make the world a better place?

But why stop there? That’s not the American way. Hell, that’s not the DisruptiCon way. Observe. Interpret. Iterate. Innovate. I want you all to put yourselves in my shoes at that moment, to experience what was going through my head. Ask yourself, as I did, is your average homeless person really fit for this job? Are they in shape? Are they healthy enough? Have they got the dedication to see the job through day after day?

No. Of course not. If you wanted dedication and capability, you’d get a robot. Aerial drones, say/ But that means an even bigger investment into infrastructure. And that’s not even considering the cost of repairing and replacing the drones, of keeping them fueled up. Not very green, is it? Not very sustainable. If only the human body was as resilient as a robot’s. If only you could get absolute obedience and reliability from a human mind. If only a human’s bones could transmit and receive wireless signals like a drone’s chassis.

If only.

All of this is going through my head as I’m standing in front of this woman, and I smile. I look down at her and I say, “Miss, thank you. You’ve just changed my life, and in exchange, I’d like to change yours. I’m the CEO of X Multiplier. I fund forward thinkers. I invest in imagination. I make dreams come true. And I want you to work for me.” She said yes, of course.

So that’s my story. My idea. An army of cyborgs consisting of homeless volunteers traveling throughout their native cities, spreading high speed internet access just with their presence. Sounds like a good idea, right? And it is. It’s a fantastic idea. A forward-thinking, disruptive idea. But there’s one more thing.

Come on out here, Marigold. Everybody I want you to meet Marigold, the woman who started it all and our first prototype. I call the business “mobiweb.ly,” and we’ll have service on the streets of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, New York, and Austin before the year’s out. Thank you!

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