COSM 2019

The first annual COSM conference was held in Bellevue Washington, Oct 23-25, 2019. COSM is a continuation in a line of conferences that George Gilder began hosting in 1997 with the establishment and rapid rise of his technology investment newsletter. In partnership with publishing magnate Steve Forbes, Gilder attracted tech executives, cutting edge innovators, and luminaries to his sold-out conferences. Gilder discovered and touted the foundational stocks propelling the rise of the internet. The sky was the limit. This rapidly changed with the 2000 dot-com tech-stock crash. The bottom fell out on a burgeoning Gilder empire as rapidly as it ascended. 

In scaled-down proportion, Gilder continued hosting conferences at irregular intervals after the tech stock collapse. Gilder rebranded the conferences as Telecosm, representing the advance of the internet into the wireless spectrum. Despite the trauma of the tech-stock collapse, Gilder continued to attract the best and brightest to present at his conferences.

The rise of Bitcoin and the blockchain became a focus of Gilder’s attention. His 2016 Telecosm conference at the San Francisco MoneyShow featured innovators in the blockchain field. The result of Gilder’s focus on the potential of the blockchain is his latest book, Life After Google. Life After Google predicts that the foundation for the current security porous internet will give way to a new secure internet architect defined by the blockchain.

The focus of COSM is Gilder’s Life After Google vision. The Discovery Institute of Seattle, Washington, co-founded by Gilder, did an excellent job organizing and presenting COSM. The inaugural COSM included commentary by Peter Thiel, Ray Kurzweil, Steve Forbes, Andy Kessler, Carver Mead, and many other leaders in their field. Panels included discussions on artificial intelligence (AI), China, cryptocurrency and money, the blockchain, 5G deployment, augmented and virtual reality advances, biotech and medicine, and the impact of government regulation. Concluding the conference was a discussion between Gilder and Michael Kratsios, the Chief Technology Officer of the United States.

COSM promises to be an annual event. COSM 2020 is scheduled for September 30-October 2 in Bellevue Washington.     

Gilder edited slightly for detail a review I wrote of COSM. He included it in his October 30, 2019, Daily Prophecy. I focus on the China issue, which is at the center of current geopolitical and economic policy initiatives and requires a cooperative solution. Here is the excerpt.   

But first an edited commentary on COSM’s technology message from Mike Kendall, my “Man on the Margin” blogger and pilot, who guides much of what I do here on cryptocurrencies, trade policy, and the role of gold. I amplified some points and translated acronyms:

 

Advances in computational power are what is driving everything — from artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous vehicles, the blockchain, adjusted reality, virtual reality, 5G next-generation wireless, and everything converging in-between.

 

Ray Kurzweil of Google made the point that it was only in the last 18 months that computational power has increased to the point where the recent advances in AI, such as protein folding, were made possible.

 

Kurzweil sees the continuing increase in computational power and what it enables drastically changing our world by the next decade. (That’s good news for those awaiting more realistic sex robots.) The computational power and data storage required for one autonomous vehicle is massive. Increasingly cars are becoming mobile datacenters.

 

Then there is 5G, wearables that will replace the smartphone, and holographic renderings allowing a convergence between AR, VR, and the real world. We learned from Jules Urbach of Otoy that we will have to wait for 6G before Star Trek holograms become a part of our daily life. Gilad Garon of ASOCS, a Gilder investment, announced that his Israeli company is already working on 6G.

 

Amid all this potential, the political world is diligently working to blow up the global technology supply chain that enables it. Primarily the damage comes through our geopolitical and trade war initiatives and increasingly shrill rhetoric toward China. There was an excellent panel on China. Moderated by the former Microsoft VP, now managing partner of Ignition Partners, Bob Kelly, the panel included George Gilder, Wendy Liu, a Chinese representative of UBS headquartered in Hong Kong, Gary Rieschel, a long-time venture capitalist active in China investment, and Jim Michel, a local U.S. manufacturer who has to deal directly with China. There was excellent perspective from a wide variety of views, including Michel’s experience waking up in Shanghai to see a drone peering in his window.

 

Overall, at the grass-roots level where people actually engage in commerce, all agree that there are many problems on China’s side that need to get corrected. Both Chinese producers and foreign investors want to see these problems corrected. In the big picture, it is not working well for either side.

 

The US political solution of seeing China as a nail and wielding a hammer is not constructive. If US and Chinese political policy continue on this path, the global supply chain that is producing the foundation of computational and technology advances is at risk of getting disrupted, with all the negative ramifications. This was the issue cogently addressed by GG.

 

Inflamed rhetoric about the evils of Chinese communist government is exacerbating the mistrust. By percentage of GDP, China’s government is less involved in its economy than the US government. China launches three times more initial public offerings, fosters more business starts, and educates millions more engineers than we do.

 

If China was truly communist, they couldn’t produce anything that anybody wants. It was the communist China government that created the Shenzhen Economic Zone that was the foundation for China’s economic miracle beginning in 1980. This led to exponential growth that unleashed the Chinese economic miracle. The U.S. would do well to pattern our own cities on that model. We would also do well to keep a perspective on the big picture. The world advances by cooperation, not by conflict.

 

Thank you, Mike for that excellent report.

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