David Ellis

David Ellis is a futurist author and speaker, and the former corporate director of planning and future studies at the Detroit Medical Center. Once upon a time he was a “China watcher” for the British and colonial Hong Kong governments, then emigrated to the United States in the early 1980s. He accepted a post as managing editor of a demographic research journal, the Asian and Pacific Census Forum, at the East-West Center in Honolulu, where he also founded and edited a series of policy briefs called Asia-Pacific Population & Policy.

The difference in careers was not as great as it might seem. The worlds of intelligence and academic research both involve the same knowledge-creation process of the collection, collation, interpretation, and dissemination of information.

His interest in applying technologies to this process, already whetted by the Center’s then-sophisticated mainframe-based editing and typesetting systems, caught fire with the arrival of the Center’s first modem — a 300 baud acoustic-coupled model with rubber cups that had to be clamped over the ear- and mouthpieces of the old-style AT&T standard telephone handset. It was clunky and awkward, but enough to make him realize that academia, intelligence, . . . indeed, any world with information and communication at its core, were set for explosive growth — with enormous implications for society.

He therefore embarked on a course of study and entrepreneurship that was to lead him to found what became the Midwest’s largest Internet service provider — Voyager.net, to write an award-winning book on technology and healthcare, and to write, speak, and consult on a broad range of policy and business issues related to the acceleration of technological innovation.

Among his prouder accomplishments, in 1991 he co-founded The Children’s Network, an organization devoted to educating children in the use of the new online technologies and one of the first to see the need to work on closing the “digital divide” between the technological haves and have-nots. With active participation by business leaders and schoolteachers, TCN was remarkably successful in devising innovative uses of the emerging network of computer bulletin board systems (BBSs — one of the precursors to the Internet), including the first interactive TV/computer network production in the world, and a similar interactive event involving the C-SPAN School Bus during its visit to East Lansing. A major Michigan newspaper, the Lansing State Journal, collaborated with TCN to produce the Lansing School Journal, a joint print-online newspaper produced by 3rd thru 6th graders in Lansing area schools — one of the world’s first “blogs,” a decade before the rest of the world caught up.

At Mr. Ellis’s urging and with his help, the Michigan House of Representatives became one of the first governmental bodies in the nation to establish a Web site and provide information about the House, representatives, districts, and the legislative process to the public. The Web site quickly won an unsolicited award from a national computer magazine.

In 1999, in recognition for his presentation to the World Technology Network (WTN) on the impacts of artificial intelligence on business, given at the Royal Society in London in October 1998, and for his work as a nominator and judge for the first annual WTN Technology Awards (Health and Medicine category) during 1999, Mr. Ellis was made a member of that prestigious network.

His ability to spot key trends in an ocean of conflicting swells was recognized by the American Hospital Association, which (jointly with Jossey-Bass/John Wiley) published his book Technology and the Future of Health Care: Preparing for the Next 30 Years in 2000. The book received the HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) Book of the Year Award for 2000. He is working on a new book, Hope in Healthcare, that will extend and update his views about the revolutionary future of healthcare. In February 2011 he published a book about the emergence of machine intelligence, called Deus ex Machina sapiens.

Mr. Ellis brought together his vision and understanding of the key technology trends affecting healthcare to co-found the Michigan Electronic Medical Record Initiative (MEMRI), a non-profit initiative to reduce the cost and raise the quality of healthcare through promoting and facilitating the creation of a statewide, standardized, patient-centric medical record system that will be controlled by patients and incorporate the best in security and privacy protocols.

He was educated in London, Hong Kong, and the United States, and holds bachelor-equivalent degrees in business studies and Chinese, and a master of science degree in the information and communication sciences.


Michigan Electronic Medical Record Initiative (MEMRI). Co-founder and interim Executive Director.

Public Sector Consultants, Inc. Affiliate Consultant. PSC is Michigan’s leading public policy think tank.

Kelley-Cawthorne PLLC. Technology Advisor. Kelley-Cawthorne is a law and governmental affairs practice formed by a merger between America’s former longest-serving state Attorney General and Michigan’s largest governmental affairs law firm.


  • Hope in Health Care: The Age of Postmodern Medicine. Forthcoming 2012.
  • “History of Surgery at William Beaumont Hospital.” Appendix 5-7 in Detroit Surgeons: 300 Years, Vol. II, by Larry W. Stephenson MD. Detroit: Dorian Naughton Publishing, 2011. (With Charles J. Shanley MD and James A. Catto MD.)
  • Deus ex Machina sapiens: The Science and Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence. Detroit: Elysian Detroit, February 2011.
  • Columns in Hospitals & Health Networks, 2004-present.
  • “Power to the Patient.” Epilog to Consumer Informatics: Applications and Strategies in Cyber Health Care, Marion J. Ball and Rosemary Nelson (eds.) New York: Springer Verlag, January 2004.
  • Privacy.” Section 34 in Michigan in Brief, June 2002. Lansing, MI: Public Sector Consultants, Inc., 2002
  • “Planning Proposal for the Development and Implementation of a Statewide Standardized Electronic Medical Record.” Prepared for the Michigan Health & Hospital Assocation, January 2002.
  • “Technology and the Future of Democracy.” Draft monograph for Public Sector Reports. Lansing, MI: Public Sector Consultants, Inc., 2001.
  • “Project E: E-Health, E-Business,E-Hospitals, and the E-MHA – Survey Report.” Survey analysis and report for the Michigan Health & Hospital Assocition. January and September 2001.
  • “Technology and the Future of the Consulting Industry.” Internal strategic planning document. Public Sector Consultants, Inc. April 2001.
  • Technology and the Future of Health Care: Preparing for the Next 30 Years. New York/San Francisco/Chicago: Wiley/Jossey-Bass/AHA Press, 2000.
  • “2000 Elections: Michigan Insight Project.” Analysis and report of political pundit panel ratings of candidates. Unpublished, Public Sector Consultants, Inc., November 2000.
  • “Building an Entrepreneurial Culture: As Easy As 4-5-6.” Invited paper presented to the 2nd Annual Michigan Legislative and Business Leaders Public Policy Forum, Traverse City, MI, September 2000.
  • “What Artificial Intelligence Will Mean for Business.” Invited paper presented to the World Technology Network at the Royal Society, London, U.K., October 1998.
  • “Report to the Committee to Review Televising Legislative Proceedings of the Michigan Senate.” Report prepared under contract to the Michigan Senate Committee to Review Televising Legislative Proceedings and to Review Senate Rules and Session Procedures, Lansing, Michigan, USA, February 1994. (With Dr. William Sederburg.)
  • “Design Proposal for a Michigan Government Television Network. Conceptual design, preliminary budget, and project timeline.” 1994. Commissioned by the Michigan Cable Television Association in conjunction with AT&T, MCI, and others, and subsequently incorporated into an Executive Order by the Governor of the State of Michigan. MGTV is now operational.
  • “Interactive Data Over Cable: A Report to the National Cable Television Association State Leadership Conference.” Washington, DC, October 28, 1994.
  • “Developing an Education Indicator System: Measuring Quality and Progress in Michigan’s Education System.” Written in conjunction with Dr. Steve Kaagan, The Michigan Partnership for New Education, and Public Sector Consultants, Inc., under contract to the Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction, Lansing, Michigan, USA, 1993.
  • “Toward a Cost Effective Telecommunication System for the 21st Century: Technology Issues.” Prepared in conjunction with Dr. William Sederburg of Public Sector Consultants, Inc., under contract to the Michigan Senate (Committee to Review Televising Legislative Proceedings and to Review Senate Rules and Session Procedures), Lansing, Michigan, USA, October 1993.
  • “Spare the Child and Spoil the Rod: Communication Technology and the Future of the First Amendment.” Paper presented to the Law Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) 1989 National Convention, Washington, D.C., USA, August 1989.
  • “The Wired City Revisited: An Exploratory Model and an Interdisciplinary Inspection of the Conceptual Foundations.” In Sprague, R.H. (Ed.): Proceedings of the Twenty-Second Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Vol. IV: Emerging Technologies and Applications Track. Washington, D.C.: IEEE Computer Society, 1989. (with Kaenel, R.A.)
  • “Development Information Needs and Uses in the Pacific Hemisphere Community: What They Are and How the New Telematic Technologies Can Meet Them.” In D.J. Wedermeyer and M.R. Ogden (Eds.): Telecommunications and Pacific Development: Alternatives for the Next Decade. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: North-Holland. (with Horn, B.R.) March 1988.

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