Innovation Summit 2017 (Berlin).

Yesterday I represented Tivix at the Economist’s Innovation Summit 2017, held in Berlin. It was quite the gathering of incredibly smart people from around the world, discussing global innovation trends and opining on where it is all going. There was an impressive amount of brain power in the room. 

The fact is, there’s a lot going on today. As several people have observed, there may be more innovation going on today than there has been since the Victorian era (the era that brought us photography, bicycles, the telegraph, flush toilets, and ice cream). 

I’ll list here, in no particular order, some of the notes I jotted down during the day:

  • Artificial Intelligence is a very hot buzzword these days, but as one of the speakers pointed out we should be thinking of it as “IA, not AI”, because intelligence augmentation is really where this is going. Humans have the intelligence, but computers are increasingly able to augment that intelligence. For example, computers aren’t going to replace physicians, but they can make physicians more effective by using AI to augment the way they work. 
  • “Data is the new oil” is a saying that one heard a lot two years ago. Now it’s “AI is the new electricity”. 
  • Although corporate marketing slogans would have us believe that technology has been a great force of democracy and equality around the world, the reality is that so far technology has increased wealth inequality around the world. We need to make sure that that does not continue to be true as we enter the next phase. Because wealth inequality isn’t good for any of us. 
  • The names of most new jobs today would be incomprehensible to our grandparents. My grandfather would certainly have no idea what a Front End Engineer or a Data Scientist was. That’s just two generations for substantial changeover of job skills in the economy (and that process isn’t slowing down any). 
  • The US and Europe today are two very different markets to serve because of the difference in digital privacy regulations (see the EU’s GDPR). This is a challenge for all the US-based companies whose business model is based on collecting personal data. 
  • On a related note, Europe doesn’t like the fact that Silicon Valley is “mission control” for the entire world’s tech economy. The global technology landscape (along with all sorts of culture and values that come with it) is being directed today by Facebook, Google, Apple – three companies located within a few miles of each other on the other side of the world. Europe is eager to do something about that. 
  • Invention can just be pure luck. But lucky isn’t sustainable, so companies today need to find ways to create methodology around invention and innovation (innovation is invention plus fresh thinking about business models). 

The coolest thing I saw during the day? An exec from Airbus showed us their new car/pod/plane concept. And I want one.