The Hawk and the Dove
Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War
Technology is changing everything, but it’s also moving more quickly than we can keep up with—how can we make sure it works for us instead of against us? Nicholas Thompson, CEO of The Atlantic and former editor-in-chief of WIRED, says that innovations have improved our lives in countless ways—"We live longer, eat better, and keep powerful computers in our pockets”—but we need vigilant journalism and an engaged society that is prepared to keep Big Tech in check. An award-winning author and former editor at The New Yorker, Nicholas teaches us how we can thrive in a future defined by new rules, new values, and new possibilities.
“Nick is singular; we've seen no one like him. As to leading and supporting Atlantic strategy, Nick brings a surround-sound coverage of relevant experience. Having been an editor, he is committed to the undergirding tenets of our work—superior editorial standards and complete editorial independence.”— Laurene Powell Jobs and David Bradley
Nicholas Thompson has occupied the most prestigious positions in the world of tech writing and journalism—staking out a bold, optimistic vision for what our future will look like. He was the editor-in-chief of WIRED magazine and is the CEO of The Atlantic, overseeing work that has won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Magazine Award, and has even led to Oscar-winning films. Nicholas’ ground-breaking investigative reporting on Facebook was a finalist for a 2020 Loeb Award.
Nicholas played a pivotal role at The New Yorker—first as senior editor, then as editor of the magazine’s digital platform, where he helped re-design the website, launch the New Yorker app, spark an eight-fold increase in monthly readers, and quadruple the number of new digital subscribers each month.
He’s also the author of the critically acclaimed biography The Hawk and the Dove: Paul Nitze, George Kennan, and the History of the Cold War, a brilliant and revealing biography of the two most important Americans during the Cold War era—written by the grandson of one of them. The New York Times said that the book was “brimming with fascinating revelations about the men and the harrowing events they steered through.”
Nicholas is a former Senior Editor at Legal Affairs and a former contributor at CBS. With a massive and vigilant following on social media, he’s one of LinkedIn’s most-followed individuals. He earned the 21st Century Leader Award from The National Committee on American Foreign Policy, was a Future Tense Fellow at the New America Foundation and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Nicholas is also an accomplished runner and is currently the American record holder for men over age 45 in the 50k. He is also ranked in the top ten marathoners in the world for his age group.
“He was unbelievable. Not one person had anything negative to say, in fact, the opposite. Everyone thought he was so entertaining, smart, insightful and compelling. We want to hire him again.”BMO Nesbitt Burns
“Your speech was extraordinarily well received and your moderation of the panel was done with great skill. The conversations that followed amongst our senior leadership during the rest of the day's programming proved that the experience was invaluable for everyone in our organization.”Caesars Entertainment
“I am fairly certain that was one of the most interesting sponsored events ever. You gave even those of us who are deep into these issues much more to think (and worry) about. Every single client, all of whom deal with these issues on a daily basis, are still talking about your presentation and the importance of understanding the quality of data and potential biases that go into A.I. in the first place. Thank you!”Orrick, Silicon Valley
“Aside from organizing the call, I wanted to thank you for your time at the conference. Your presentation added to our day, making it full of interesting discussion and topics.”Berenberg Capital Markets
As the former editor-in-chief of WIRED, Nicholas Thompson is an unparalleled insider with corner office connections at Facebook, Google, Apple, and more. Any oracular ability he has is tempered with deep pragmatism—a sense of great possibility in tech—and the knowledge that nothing comes for free. In this intellectually thrilling keynote, Thompson breaks down the nine trade-offs that all of us, whatever our business, should be aware of when it comes to adopting new tech. What should you consider when it comes to security versus privacy? What about social biases embedded in AI? As Thompson discusses, certain biases might be beneficial to your business and to society. Then there’s retail: how will data-driven AR in in brick-and-mortar outlets affect our perception of reality, let alone how consumers make purchases? With clear takeaways and fascinating precedents, Thompson will initiate you and your audience into the trade-offs of an increasingly innovation-driven economy—and help guide you towards your priorities.
As WIRED’s former editor-in-chief, Nicholas Thompson was committed to pushing the magazine to the forefront of technology. And as a veteran public speaker—a great explainer and entertaining moderator, comfortable with hosting, interviewing, or delivering keynotes himself—he’s uniquely situated to offer informed commentary on everything new and vital in this inexhaustible field. How will artificial intelligence and robotics change our devices, the way we work, earn a living, fight wars, solve problems—our very selves? How will privacy, security, and cyber-espionage evolve in the coming years of interconnectivity (and how much should the average person or company care)? How will the world’s dominant tech corporations—Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft—interact with citizens, help write policy, and exert power over governments and citizens? And how can the media continue upholding the truth throughout, especially under an administration that’s declared war on journalists? No matter the subject—design, culture, media, tech, ethics, or our digital future—Nicholas Thompson is more than ready to break the news with big ideas and fearless takes.
Prior to taking the helm at The Atlantic, Nicholas Thompson held positions at WIRED, where he boosted digital subscriptions of the magazine by a whopping 300%, and The New Yorker, where he spearheaded a radical makeover at NewYorker.com to expand the magazine’s online readership (a move that ultimately increased circulation in the print edition as well.) How did Thompson successfully draw 25% more visitors to the storied magazine’s digital platform? While diversified social media and cutting-edge SEO strategies are all part of the plan, Thompson’s counterintuitive approach was to resist the trend of fast, disposable online media. “The main strategy for growing audience is to publish more, better stories,” he says. “The stories we’re prouder of, the stories we put more effort into, attract more readers” (Poynter). In an age when listicles and clickbait seem to hold court, Thomson’s illuminating keynote explores the “wonderful value in aligning your business model with your editorial model” (CJR)—and how consistently excellent content is the first action item in transforming digital platforms.
When WIRED was founded, it heralded—even celebrated—a coming revolution in technology. For former editor-in-chief Nicholas Thompson, that revolution has arrived—just not in the way he’d hoped. Today, despite its abundance, tech is still unevenly distributed across society, with disruptions already having a massive impact on previously dependable employments; our journalists face a new era of alternative facts and ‘fake’ news; Facebook users often sit in an algorithmic echo chamber of ideas; and a cynical suspicion of science means even expert consensus is cast into doubt. But, as Thompson argues, today also marks a critical time to protect WIRED’s early vision: to “make sure science keeps going forward, that we can all agree on facts, and make sure all that information makes our lives richer” (CNN). In this keynote, Thompson discusses the ever-changing frontier of business and technology, science and design, from Silicon Valley to Wall Street—and how good design and the highest values can help ensure the digital revolution remains at the service of human beings. “Technology and science continue to make the world a better place,” Thompson tells CJR—and we can’t lose sight of that truth.