Steven Johnson

Bestselling Author & Host of PBS six-part series: How We Got To Now

Steven Johnson is a best-selling author and the leading mind of today’s interdisciplinary, collaborative approach to innovation. He unites a deep understanding of scientific progress with a sharp sensitivity to contemporary online trends. Johnson was chosen by *Prospect* magazine as one of the Top Ten Brains of the Digital Future, and The Wall Street Journal called him “one of the most persuasive advocates for the role of collaboration in innovation.”

Steven is now the host of TED Interview Podcast. He takes over the role from TED founder Chris Anderson.

Johnson’s newest book, Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer, is an entertaining, wide-ranging and surprising look at how human species managed to double life expectancy in just one hundred years. How many of those extra twenty thousand days came from vaccines, or the decrease in famines, or seatbelts? What are the forces that now keep us alive longer? Behind this breakthrough lies an inspiring story of cooperative innovation and brilliant thinkers bolstered by strong public support systems and collaborative networks.

Johnson’s writing on the history of innovation inspired the Emmy-nominated six-part series on PBS, HOW WE GOT TO NOW with Steven Johnson. The book version of How We Got To Now debuted at #4 on the New York Times bestseller list, and was a finalist for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. His TED talk on innovation has been viewed more than five million times.

In his book, Farsighted: How We Make the Decisions That Matter the Most, Steven examines consequential once-in-lifetime decisions by drawing lessons from cognitive science, social psychology, military strategy, environmental planning, and great works of literature.

In Enemy of All Mankind: A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History’s First Global Manhunt John[1]son deftly traces the path from a single struck match to a global conflagration. He doesn’t just write about the heyday of piracy, but connects it to the growth of nation-states, the history of the first multinational corporation, the origins of democracy and the birth of the tabloid media.

His book, Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World, revolves around the creative power of play: ideas and innovations that set into motion the many momentous changes in science, technology, politics and society. Inspired by the book, Steven launched a podcast series about the past and future of play and innovation, which became a #1 iTunes podcast on innovation.

Johnson’s bestselling book, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, considers breakthroughs as different as Darwin’s theories and the rise of YouTube by looking at the core set of innovation principles that have encouraged creativity across history. It’s a practical guide to making any space or organization more innovation-friendly.

Everything Bad Is Good For You, one of the most discussed books of 2005, argued that the increasing complexity of modern media is training us to think in more complex ways. Emergence and Future Perfect explore the power of bottom-up intelligence in both nature and contemporary society.

He is a regular contributor to Wired magazine, as well as the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and many other periodicals. He is @stevenbjohnson on Twitter, where he has 1.1 million followers.

Session Info

Wednesday, May 17 9:00 am – 9:45 am General Session | Hall B

Where Good Ideas Come From

Drawing on his books and TV series on innovation, bestselling author Steven Johnson will discuss the secrets behind unusually creative individuals and organizations. Sharing fascinating stories from the history of technology, manufacturing, and human health, Johnson will explore the importance of multi-disciplinary collaboration, the challenges of anticipating long-term consequences, and the enduring connection between progress and new ideas.

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