Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, which represents more than 2,400 tech companies and owns and produces CES.
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Hi reddit, I'm Gary Shapiro, President & CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), owner and producer of CES. The show is coming up in less than a month and there will be a ton of new and exciting innovation on display.
I'll be answering your questions from 2-3 PM ET.
EDIT: Thank you for all of the questions! I had a lot of fun today. Don't forget that CES 2017 is Jan. 5-8. Register for the show today.
Gary, thanks for coming on to answer questions. What 1-2 sessions are you most excited about at CES?
I am most excited for our keynotes coming to CES 2017. We'll have Qualcomm, Carnival, Under Armour, NVIDIA, Huawei and Nissan. They represent so many new industries for us and areas of growth at the show: automotive, connectivity, wearable, sports and fitness - as the industry expands, CES does too and it's exciting!
Mr. Shapiro, first thank you for sharing with us today. With the very recent passing of "America's Dad", Alan Thicke, I just wanted to ask what kind of influence he had on your career coming up through the tech industry and what you would say to him if he was still here. Thank you.
P.S. What kinds of societal impacts do you see augmented reality and VR having in the next 5-10 years?
To combine your questions together, in the next 5-10 years we will be able to relive some of the greats who have passed, such as Alan Thicke.
What's your fav. gaming console?
I think they are all great but what excites me most is how the latest generation of consoles are helping to introduce consumers to great new technologies like 4K UHD and VR/AR. I can't wait to see what's next!
Mr. Shapiro, Im curious for your take on how Mr. Trumps use of the bully pulpit is influencing tech sectors and consumer based companies, ie boeing, alternative energy, etc. How would you advise him on the best ways to use his voice?
President-elect Trump has changed politics, marketing and communications with his surprise win and academics will be studying it for years to come. He has also forced everyone in corporate America to examine how they hire and pay workers and I believe corporate boardrooms will be discussing how they can reach out and retrain Americans including older males, veterans and those who have lost ground compared to the rest of America. We need to reexamine how we train Americans both with STEM and technical education. I am hopeful that we will shift from a cultural demand that 4-year college degrees are required for technical education.
Gary! Thank you for doing this AMA. Two questions:
1) What do you think is the biggest technological breakthrough ever unveiled at CES?
2) What hopes or fears do you have for America's continued focus on technology innovation, given a Trump presidency?
CES has been the launchpad for MAJOR technology breakthroughs for 50 years. We estimate some 700,000 products have been launched at CES in our history. Among the biggies we have: the VCR, CD player, Sling Box, HDTV, various gaming consoles, robotics, drones, many forms of wireless health and several different types of connected cars including self-driving. With connectivity and mobility reaching an ever-present state I can't wait to see what comes out of this year's show.
For your second question, I actually wrote a column about this which appeared this morning in Morning Consult. Please read here.
Mr. Shapiro, can you give a little insight into the rationale for the name/brand change of CEA to CTA in recent years?
We changed our name last year from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)to most accurately reflect our vision, scope of activity and the members we represent. By replacing "electronics" with "technology" we more accurately and readily represent our expanding member base.
Thank you for taking the time with us today. Regarding VR/AR - when will this become mainstream and what are the best ways to get it in more consumers hands?
Virtual reality is changing the game for a variety of industries including healthcare, agriculture, manufacturing and business. Doctors are using VR to enhance traditional therapies, architects use VR to design stronger buildings and travel agencies are using it to simplify vacation planning. CES 2017 will have the largest showcase of VR technologies in history from more than 70 companies. As the technology integrates into other devices we'll see continuous uptick - see my gaming question response.
All sorts of devices and appliances are becoming “smart” as we connect them to the network, but consumers are under the false assumption that these devices are safe from hackers and experts warn that new connected consumer devices like door locks, security cameras, and even alarm systems are vulnerable. What role do you see for the Consumer Electronics Association and for CES to encourage companies to adopt better cyber security protocols and inform consumers about these vulnerabilities?
We are extremely excited presented by the Internet of Things. A more connected world offers the opportunity to expand access to information, education, ideas and each other while making our lives easier and our devices and services more personalized. CTA is working with our members to address the security challenges around connected devices and educate consumers on the basic steps they can take to secure their devices and home networks.
I should add we are producing public service announcements and using social media to educate consumers.
Hey Gary! Really appreciate you talking to us to today. When you look at an innovative first move like Amazon Go, does it make you more nervous or excited? The thought of the convenience is unbelievable but the moves we are making towards a cashless society can be unnerving. When can innovation go too far?
This is an extremely exciting alternative for the future. One concerning part is some of us like anonymity as we buy things. Another is how we help our kids learn to interact with people. This also raises the job question, please see my previous answer.
What is the can't-miss exhibit or product for CES 2017?
I love Eureka Park with its 600 startups! It is truly inspirational. Also check out our Marketplaces that highlight key products and trends including Drones, SleepTech (NEW), Robotics and more. And walk the show floor! One of the best parts of CES is the serendipity of discovery.
Thank you for taking the time to answer questions. I know the patent troll thing seems to have calmed down a bit, but where does the CTA stand on patent reform and do you expect to see any movement in that direction in the next Congress?
Patent trolls remain a major scourge on our industry, especially start ups and small businesses. We support reforms to reduce bogus patent lawsuits and threats. Common sense patent reform is broadly supported in Congress and we will be supporting reform legislation in the upcoming congressional session. Please join our efforts by signing up for the Innovation Movement
Hi Gary! What are the biggest challenges facing the tech industry for 2017? Alternatively, what do you see as the biggest opportunities in 2017 and how will they have changed from 2016?
Both the challenge and opportunity will be in ensuring that our regulatory and legal systems are welcoming to new disruptive technologies and business models like the sharing economy, drones, AR/VR and self-driving cars. We see opportunities to work with the new administration and Congress to get this right. We also look forward to working with them on building a 21st century infrastructure and creating a pro-innovation tax and regulatory environment.
With Elon Musk now added to Trump's advisory team, do you think that will have any effect on the future of self-driving cars or energy policy?
We are pleased that Elon Musk and as well as Uber's Travis Kalanik will be advising the administration. Self-driving cars and trucks offer us a profound and transformative opportunity. Every year over 30k Americans are killed on the roads and the number is rising. Most of these accidents are caused by human error. Self-driving technology can dramatically reduce these tragedies. We must deploy this new technology as rapidly as possible - but that will require smart policies and close coordination between government and the private sector.
What product or product category do you see as having the most potential or that you hope will grow substantially in the next five to ten years?
Extremely excited about VR, robotics, implantables, deep data analysis and of course self-driving cars. Many of these fall under the general rubric of the Internet of Things.
Thank you for your answer. As a follow up, if 4-year college is not the best requirement for technical education, what do you see as a better pathway forward? a better mechanism to move from a job to career?
The skills that are required for the future of jobs will be different than those from a few years ago. Technical skills are highly valued. Also, the ability to work in a team, across cultures, and across industries to partner and create innovative projects and relationships is something that moves you towards the C-suite. Having empathy, strong communication skills, knowing other languages and being a ninja problem solver are all things I look for in successful executives.
Are there any unusual or especially challenging organizational problems in making the show?
Putting on CES is a massive undertaking. It's the largest business event in the world. We want all of our guests to feel appreciated comfortable and safe, and we spend a huge amount of time thinking about their on-site experiences. This includes pre-show information, transportation and logistics, how to make the app most user-friendly, the registration experience, planning our conferences and organizing the show floor all to maximize our visitors experiences at the show.
The industry entrusts us to put on CES and we view it as a sacred mission to help expose any relevant innovation to the thousands of investors, media, retailers and others who can make a difference and whether someone's idea lives or dies. We know that everyone who comes is making a decision to spend their time and money with us and we want them to have an extremely worthwhile experience.
There are still many women missing in the tech industry. Recent data has women in the tech industry and STEM at 30-35%, what can be done to increase this figure? And when can we expect to see women keynoters?
That's a great question. We have had several great women keynoters including Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman, Marissa Mayer, Mary Barra, Ginni Rometty. We do need more women CEOs to choose from. I am excited with Intel's Brian Krzanich CES keynote announcement that Intel will invest heavily in a workforce that reflects the American population.
Thanks for your response, as a follow up, CES has touted diversity of thought and people, what are your thoughts on Mr. Trump's recent immigration policies? Where do you stand on the immigration reform? Is he a threat to the tech industry?
We believe that the U.S. is a leader in innovation in part because of our diversity as it is an asset that allows different points of view thus creativity. We also have benefitted from highly skilled entrepreneurial people being educated and coming to the U.S. I am hopeful that President-elect Trump will be able to do what President Obama promised but did not deliver and that is have Congress enact an immigration policy which reflects the fact that we want the best and brightest to come to and stay in the U.S.