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R. David Edelman
Presidential Technology Advisor
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R. David Edelman
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Technology Advisor to the President during the Obama Administration, R. David Edelman has spent a decade as one of the government’s foremost voices on how technology is changing our economy, national security, and daily lives. An expert on some of the most pressing challenges facing the world today— from cybersecurity and privacy threats to artificial intelligence (A.I.) and automation — his insights have helped shape national and international policy at the highest levels. In 2017, he joined MIT’s Internet policy team as Director of the new Project on Technology, the Economy, & National Security. 

As Special Assistant to the President for Economic and Technology Policy at the National Economic Council (NEC), Dr. Edelman led the White House team focusing on the digital economy — including broadband, telecommunications, spectrum, and technology trade — as well as consumer cybersecurity, domestic and international data privacy, high-tech patent and copyright issues, and antitrust/competition.

He also led engagement with hundreds of technology companies around the world; advised the President on a range of emerging technologies such as big data, drones, and autonomous vehicles; and designed and managed over $15 billion of signature programs focused on technology, education, and economic opportunity.

Dr. Edelman’s wide-ranging perspective and ability to clearly communicate these complex topics stem from his unique background as perhaps the only policymaker in the nation to have held separate appointments to three White House policy councils: the National Security Council (NSC), the NEC, and the Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP).

In his time at the White House he led the development of and co-authored over a dozen legislative proposals, national strategies, Executive Orders, and Presidential reports — including the High Tech Patent Task Force; the Big Data Report to the President; E.U.-U.S. data privacy frameworks; and various consumer privacy bills.

As chief architect of the President’s ConnectED initiative, Edelman managed the $10 billion effort that brought broadband to over 30 million American students in their classrooms. As part of this effort, he worked with over a dozen Fortune 100 technology CEOs from companies like Apple and Microsoft that pledged over $2 billion in philanthropic commitments to 25 million students in all fifty states – from tablets to wireless broadband to personalized learning software.

Edelman has particular expertise in how technology and cybersecurity are shaping international politics and business. In December 2010, Edelman became the first director for International Cyber Policy at President Obama’s National Security Council (NSC). At the time of his appointment, he was the youngest-ever Director appointed to the NSC. Called the nation’s “chief cyber diplomat,” he authored the President’s International Strategy for Cyberspace – the government’s principal doctrine on cybersecurity and Internet issues within foreign policy.

Prior to his time at the White House, Edelman served at the State Department’s Office of Cyber Affairs, where he developed the U.S. government’s early diplomatic strategy and legal doctrine on cyber issues, and later served as the United States’ lead negotiator on Internet issues at the United Nations.

At MIT, Dr. Edelman leads an interdisciplinary team of researchers, students, and policymakers to address the challenges created by technological disruption – from the international concern of cyberattacks to the economic and regulatory consequences of A.I. and autonomous vehicles.

He has written and lectured extensively on technology’s disruption of education, intellectual property, privacy, and transportation, as well as the threats of military alliances in an era of cyber conflict.

Receiving the State Department’s Superior Honor Award for his work on intelligence matters, Edelman was a two-time recipient of the Meritorious Honor Award for his United Nations negotiations and development of the nation’s cyber diplomacy strategy. He was previously named one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30” leaders in Law & Policy, and later chosen as a “30 Under 30 All-Star Alumni” — one of only three in the magazine’s history — for his ongoing contributions to national policy.

A Yale University history major, Edelman earned a Master’s and Ph.D. in International Relations at Oxford University. His groundbreaking dissertation, “Cyberattacks in International Relations,” examined which forces might restrain state use of cyberattacks.

Full Bio >
Videos
  • Edelman on Artificial Intelligence & the Economy
  • "Digital Globalization” keynote (2016)
  • Digital Northwest Broadband Summit (2016)
  • Edelman on the Future of Cars (Self-Driving Vehicles)
Speaking Topics
A.I., Big Data, Self-Driving Cars, & Drones: Innovations Disrupting the Global Economy

It was only 10 years ago that the iPhone put what was once considered a supercomputer in every pocket, changing how over a billion people communicate, navigate, learn, and spend. The next decade will be marked by far more rapid change and even more profound disruption — to dozens more business sectors and potentially entire economies.

In this talk, Edelman guides general and expert audiences alike through this period of unprecedented change — leaving them with a strong command of how technologies like artificial intelligence and self-driving cars work, as well as the implications they will have for us as individuals, for existing industries, and for global geopolitics.

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Cybersecurity & Geopolitics: Beyond the Headlines

Is “cyberwar” on the horizon for the United States, Russia, or China? Can hackers 10,000 miles away really undermine democratic institutions, and if so, what does that mean for the future of American democracy and the global order? What does it mean when hackers can discredit high-ranking politicians, or cut off a state’s electricity, with seeming impunity? These questions, once hypothetical, are now at the core of great power politics and the competitiveness of the world’s largest economies.

In this talk, Edelman guides general and expert audiences alike through this period of unprecedented change — leaving them with a strong command of how technologies like artificial intelligence and self-driving cars work, as well as the implications they will have for us as individuals, for existing industries, and for global geopolitics.

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Preserving the Nation’s Competitive Edge: Technology & Innovation

Is Silicon Valley a uniquely American phenomenon, or only a temporary boon to employment and wealth creation? What will it take to ensure that this innovative edge is not just sustained, but more broadly shared beyond California and Massachusetts?  In this talk, Edelman provides an insider’s look at the challenges to building and sustaining innovation at the firm and national level; shares the “magic formula” that has created and sustained the world’s most innovative economies; and explains the role that every voter, community, and company can play in creating the conditions for success.

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The President’s Geek-in-Chief: Personal Reflections on Obama’s White House

Working inside the White House provided a lifetime of stories — inspiring, hilarious, and humbling. In this intimate talk, Edelman discusses his personal experience as a policymaker in service of the “geekiest President in history,” navigating the perils of the world’s fastest-changing policy areas, engaging the most famous personalities in business and government, and reflecting on the value of public service in an era defined by skepticism toward politicians.

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Digital Globalization: Lessons from China, Europe, & California

There’s more to the digital economy than Silicon Valley, and more to globalization than tighter supply chains. In this talk about the future of the Internet and all who do business on it, Edelman explains how three drastically different visions for the future of globalization are vying to define the future of the global economy. Delving into the complex motivations of regulators in Beijing, Washington, and Brussels, and reviewing the complex and differing economies that they oversee, this talk will help audiences understand the likely winners and losers in this dynamic landscape — as well as how to prepare for the next decade of competition for the digital landscape.

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Cybersecurity: What You Can (and Can’t) Do to Protect Yourself & Your Business

In an era when Fortune 100 CEOs and top politicians are finding their careers ended by cybersecurity incidents and consumer confidence relies on protecting customers’ precious data, cybersecurity fluency is no longer optional. Gleaning insights from almost a decade at the forefront of cybersecurity — including hundreds of companies’ real experiences — Edelman helps demystify the threats that businesses face and explains precisely what can (and can’t) be done to defend both reputation and the bottom line.

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The $10 Billion Idea: Public-Private Partnerships Revolutionizing U.S. Education

How can an idea, some geekery, and a few well-placed phone calls build a national movement transforming U.S. public school education? With the immense potential technology can have to level the playing field and save money in cash-strapped American schools, public-private partnership done right can make all the difference — and provide a template for change in any area of American life. Edelman, architect of the nation’s $10 billion public-private education technology program, shares insights and lessons learned from the work that led to 35 million more American students getting online in their classrooms, with profound educational impact. Audiences will leave with a deeper understanding of how little-understood policy tools and often-overlooked approaches to partnership can combine to create social change on a national and international level, regardless of the field.

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Big Data at the Doctor’s Office: The Precision Medicine Revolution

The future of medicine — from curing cancer to managing chronic conditions — is increasingly personalized, leveraging insights from big data and patients’ own lives to develop treatments specific to them alone. The result has the potential to dramatically improve outcomes for the sick. But this revolution also comes with potential risks, from an exponential increase in the cost of care to major changes in how patients think about their medical privacy. Edelman, a leading expert on the public policy implications of big data, explains how new science and computation are coming together to usher in this revolution, and what it means for patients and the health care ecosystem.

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Priming Local Economies for the 21st Century: The Digital Edge

How can small towns and rural states compete with Silicon Valley and Boston?  Around the country and around the world — in some of the most unexpected places — local communities are discovering some of the secrets of success attracting innovators and industry, leveraging the tools of the digital revolution. Building on Edelman’s role helping connect thousands of U.S. localities to the digital economy, this talk tells the story of these often “hidden” economic success stories — and explains how more communities can come together to replicate some of that same success themselves.

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Top 10 Technology Trends You Need to Know

Separating meaning from hype, and synthetizing years advising the President on the intersection of technology, the economy, and foreign policy, Edelman provides audiences with his unique overview of the big-picture technology trends shaping the next decade of business. With specific recommendations tailored to each audience, this talk helps cut through the jargon, providing a compass to navigate changes across industries domestically and internationally, as well as a clear understanding of how and why particular advances turn from novel to landscape-altering.

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Testimonials
“The event on Sunday night was incredible. David was quite the star — I literally had to pull our residents away to get to him after the event... [David's] insightful perspective on such a grave and paramount issue was of considerable value to our residents while [his] humor and wit imbued the event with just the right amount of levity! We hope that [he] will consider returning to International House in the future.”
International House
“David Edelman was one of the very most knowledgeable and informative of the high-ranking Government leaders in telecommunications policy-making who have visited the Udwin Breakfast Group over our nearly 26 years of monthly get-togethers. 

Our guests have included top-ranking Congressional Members, FCC Commissioners and senior Administration officials for our gathering of friends from all of the domestic and oversea-based broadcasting, cable, telephone, satellite, Internet, programming and electronic manufacturing industries and from a wide spectrum of public interest groups. 

We were impressed by his understanding of the past, present and future of communications, and his ability to articulate it candidly, objectively and, therefore, so helpfully. ”
The Udwin Group
Keywords
Artificial Intelligence
Automation
Autonomous Vehicles
Big Data
Broadband
Business
Capitalism
Cars
China
Colleges & Universities
Communications
Competition
Cyber Security
Data
Defense
Democracy
Digital Transformation
Disruption
Economics
Education
Emerging Markets
Foreign Affairs
Future
Geopolitics
Global Economy
Globalization
Government
ISIS
Information Technology
Innovation
Internet
Iran
Iraq
Media
Medicine
Middle East
Military
Moderators
Nano Technology
National Security
Networks
Nuclear Weapons
Political Analysis
Politics
Privacy
Private Military Business
Russia
Social Media
Social Trends
Society
Southeast Asia
Strategy
Technology
Telecommunications
Terrorism
Trade
Transportation
Travel
Trends
United Nations
War
Work
Social Media