Personal Information

Orbits Bio

Dr. David A. Bray was named one of the top “24 Americans Who Are Changing the World” under 40 by Business Insider in 2016. He was also named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum for 2016-2021. He also accepted a role of Co-Chair for an IEEE Committee focused on Artificial Intelligence, automated systems, and innovative policies globally for 2016-2017 and has been serving as a Visiting Executive In-Residence at Harvard University since 2015. He has also been named a Marshall Memorial Fellow for 2017-2018 and will travel to Europe to discuss Trans-Atlantic issues of common concern including exponential technologies and the global future ahead. Since 2017, he serves as Executive Director for the People-Centered Internet coalition co-founded by Vint Cerf, focused on providing support and expertise for community-focused projects that measurably improve people’s lives using the internet. He also provides strategy and advises start-ups espousing human-centric principles to technology-enabled decision making in complex environments. 

David enjoys creative problem solving. He began working for the U.S. government at age 15 on computer simulations at a high-energy physics facility investigating quarks and neutrinos. In later roles, he designed new telemedicine interfaces and space-based forest fire forecasting prototypes for the Department of Defense. From 1998-2000 he volunteered as a part-time crew lead with Habitat for Humanity International in the Philippines, Honduras, Romania, and Nepal while also working as a project manager with Yahoo! and a Microsoft partner firm. Dr. Bray then joined as IT Chief for the Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Program at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leading the program’s technology response to during 9/11, anthrax in 2001, Severe Acute Respiratory System in 2003, and other international public health emergencies. He later completed a PhD from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School and two post-doctoral associateships at MIT and Harvard in 2008.

David likes to be a digital diplomat and a “human flak jacket” for teams of change agents working in turbulent environments. He volunteered in 2009 to deploy to Afghanistan to help “think differently” on military and humanitarian issues and in 2010 became a Senior National Intelligence Service Executive advocating for increased information interoperability, cybersecurity, and protection of civil liberties. In 2012, he became the Executive Director for the bipartisan National Commission for Review of Research and Development Programs of the United States Intelligence Community, later receiving the National Intelligence Exceptional Achievement Medal. He received both the Arthur S. Flemming Award and Roger W. Jones Award for Executive Leadership in 2013. He also was chosen to be an Eisenhower Fellow to meet with leaders in Taiwan and Australia on multisector cyber strategies for the “Internet of Everything” in 2015.

David passions include “near impossible missions” involving humans and technology in challenging circumstances. This included serving as the non-partisan Chief Information Officer for the Federal Communications Commission from 2013 to 2017. Through the efforts of a team of positive change agents, he led the transformation of the FCC’s legacy IT with more than 207 different systems to award-winning tech. This included rolling-out new cloud-based IT that achieved results in 1/2 the time at 1/6 the cost. He was selected to be one of the “Fedscoop 50” for Leadership in 2014, 2015, and 2016 and the recipient of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronic Association’s Outstanding Achievement Award for Civilian Government in 2015. Dr. Bray also received the global CIO 100 Award twice, which usually is awarded to private sector Fortune 500 companies, both in 2015 and 2017, for his transformational leadership in change-adverse settings.

Check out his posts on Medium: 
Other published works: 

Key Coverage Areas

  • Disruption & Impact
  • Leadership & Change Agents
  • Artificial Intelligence & Internet of Everything
  • Global Trends & Social Impacts
  • Public-Private Partnerships
  • Organizational Transformations
  • Exponential Technologies & Geopolitics
  • Natural Disasters & Crisis Response
  • Bioterrorism & Outbreak Response
  • Cybersecurity & Privacy Engineering
  • Non-Partisan Public Policy
  • Humanitarian Endeavors
  • Space & Satellites
  • Networks & Computing
  • Big Data & Algorithms
  • Strategic Foresight & Forecasting

Speaking Topics

A Practical Ethical Framework for Our Exponential Era

Our exponential era presents entrepreneurs and organizational leaders across multiple sectors with the challenges of unintended consequences even for companies that mean to do good. This talk will provide a brief history of the professions – the idea of community-monitoring and correcting because the subject matter was more complicated that what the average public could monitor. Then the OARS framework will be introduced that can help with addressing unintended consequences proactively. Specifically: (1) Obligations in this Context — what principles the entity believes about its relationship with its stakeholders, (2) Acknowledgements in this Context — what “known unknowns” may exist tied to transactions and relationships, (3) Responses to Obligations — what the entity will based on expressed Obligations, (4) Safeguards to Acknowledgements — what the entity will do based on expressed Acknowledgements.

Artificial Intelligence

Exponential changes in what machine learning, neural networks, and other forms of artificial intelligence are capable of equally are transforming the nature of work, leadership, and how organizations need to empower their employees to be positive #ChangeAgents. These transformations includes pairing humans with machines to encourage “augmented intelligence” where the strengths of both are amplified. Organizations themselves need to become learning, adaptive, and resilient, using sensors, data, and algorithms to achieve these goals. Recognizing there is no textbook for the future ahead, this talk will highlight the near- and mid-term trends for AI on the horizon and discuss new forms of leading and teaming to augment these data-driven, algorithmic capabilities.

Augmented Intelligence: Towards a Convergence of Human and Machine Collaborations

On 16 Jan 2019, the U.S. Intelligence Community announced the “AIM Initiative: A Strategy for Augmenting Intelligence Using Machines”. The announcement cited that the “pace at which data are generated, whether by collection or publicly available information, is increasing exponentially and long ago exceeded our collective ability to understand it or to find the most relevant data with which to make analytic judgments.” This talk considers what R&D and practical leadership activities need to be done to achieve successfully the goals of pairing humans with machines to augment intelligence capabilities. The talk will be both technically grounded and inspirational, seeking an interactive dialogue on what efforts are needed now to better understand human and machine collaborations at team, organizational, and societal levels for the future ahead.


Exponential changes require organizations intentionally to design how they operate to decrease the time required to bounce back from unforeseen events. Our exponentially changing world is putting more people online and connecting more devices daily, which also makes it nearly impossible to forecast exactly how many new risks and potential vulnerabilities are being created in the process. This talk will focus on how each of us can be positive #ChangeAgents to respond quickly to a variety of events that may not typically fall under the domain of security, yet still require a prompt response to be resilient. For the future ahead, it is important to address the various challenges that will multiply alongside the Internet of Everything as well as consider how the public and private sectors must build bridges to develop resiliency for the Internet with academia, nonprofits, and the general public.

Exponential Organizations, the Internet of Things, and Big Data

Positive #ChangeAgents are leaders who “illuminate the way” manage friction of stepping outside the status quo. Technology is rapidly changing our world. The 7 billion networked devices on the planet in 2013 have doubled to 14 billion in 2015, and 2022 is forecasted to have more than 50 billion network devices globally relative to only 8 billion people on the planet. The amount of data also is growing exponentially, such that by 2022 estimates suggest there will be more data than twice all the conversations we ever had for the entire history of human species. With these rapid changes, so too is the nature of leadership changing. All organizations, sectors, and societies are feeling the impacts of these changes. We must adopt new leadership strategies to deliver results differently and better for private sector companies, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, public service at-large, and local community organizations. Technology is augmenting what people and communities can do, both in good and bad ways. So too must we think about how to navigate second- and third-order effects of the technologies we employ. This keynote will highlight strategies and examples of how each of us can be positive #ChangeAgents and help lead the way courageously in our period of rapid change. The ripple effects of what technologies empower us to do are spreading faster and at a broader global scale than ever before.


Exponential changes in the world bring new technologies that can potentially improve lives and livelihoods — yet may also have unforeseen side-effects that also impact individuals and communities. This talk will focus on how to consider governance in a world in which “just governments” or “just nation-states” may not be the future for the decade ahead; instead, each of us as positive #ChangeAgents may need to think of new networked ways of helping to govern why, where, when, and what outcomes new exponential technologies are incorporated in to societies.

The Exponential Future of Work, Governance, and Leadership

Exponential technologies are transforming how we work, how we co-exist, and how we lead as positive #ChangeAgents. This session will explore some of the debates about what the future of work will be if exponential trends continue, as well as the ripple effects of such trends on how societies govern themselves in a networked era and what new strategies private or public sector leaders will need to employ to be effective. Come prepared to both learn and share your thoughts on the hard society-level questions for our shared exponential future ahead.

The Future of Resilience, Security, and Governance

Our exponential era is creating ripple effects that impact how we co-exist as communities and societies. Some experts are concerned about what they call “surveillance capitalism” and others are concerned that open societies cannot survive waves of misinformation and disinformation. This talk will consider “quo vadis?” — specifically, we’ll explore where open pluralistic societies might want to go in the exponential era ahead, and what each of us, as positive #ChangeAgents, might want to do to help ensure a future that uplifts communities and societies around the world.

The Future of Work and the Future of Jobs

We are facing unprecedented technological change. By several estimates, the next 7 years will see more change than the last 20 years combined which will have ripple-effects on organizations, societies, and nations. Unlike past revolutions, this digital revolution probably will improve organizational productivity without needing more productive humans. Yet for us humans, jobs matter immensely. If humans sense too large an imbalance, they will destabilize national marketplaces and regimes globally. This talk will consider the big picture questions associated with the Future of Work and the Future of Jobs in the context of possible job creation and destruction, possible lag effects, and whether these trends will benefit everyone or be disproportionate in their effects. In the end, each of us as positive #ChangeAgents can help ensure the world as a whole does benefit from the expected future changes ahead.

Video example: Seeking People-Centered Solutions To Complicated Problems