MultiMinds visited Supernova in Antwerp. Here's what we learned.
September 27–30, the city of Antwerp hosted the first edition of Supernova, an international techfest. This event was the result of joined forces by FlandersDC, Scale-ups.eu and the Flemish Government. Around 2 million euros were invested to showcase how technology and innovation will impact our daily life in the near future.
All of this resulted in an impressive speaker line-up, a tech fair with over 80 companies displaying their innovative ideas, an investor’s lounge where start-ups can pitch their ideas and pavilions in which visitors can discover the future of health, food, cities...
Such a program creates great expectations. So, did Supernova deliver? MultiMinds visited the techfest to find out.
In my opinion, they did meet the expectations.The speaker line-up was simply impressive. My personal favorites were Neil Harbisson, Anna Rosling Röhnlund and Ray Kurzweil.
Neil Harbisson became the world’s first cyborg after he had an antenna surgically implanted in his skull in 2004. Neil, born with a rare kind of color-blindness, uses the antenna to identify colors through sound frequencies. Although,still very experimental, his presentation showed how cyborg technology can improve one’s quality of life.
Anna Rosling Röhnlund, co-founder of Gapminder, devotes her career to develop a fact-based worldview everyone can understand. She wants to make it easy for everyone to understand the world. So, she sent photographers all over the world to document how people live. The data from these pictures is than ranked and visualized, so we can better understand how we live related to people in US, Peru, China, ... Her theory is that a better understanding of our relative position (based on facts) will decrease ignorance and will increase our emotional connectivity with other people around the globe. Working at MultiMinds, I also believe in the force of data so it goes without saying that right after her presentation I had to order her book (Factfullness). Which I can recommend.
Ray Kurzweil, technology philosopher and inventor, claimed that by 2030 nanobots will flow throughout our bodies to cure every disease known to mankind. We will live long and healthy lives.
Supernova was all about the positive effects of technology. Cure cancer through AI and nanobots? Check! Speak strange languages by simply upload them in your brain or fly your car to work? No problem, you can buy your flying car online. Smart cities using connected data to avoid crime, resolve traffic jams and decrease air pollution... At Supernova, the future looks bright.
However, all this technology does raise some ethical questions. How do we handle cutting edge technology as human beings? Are we willing to give up privacy? Should we worry about deep learning technology combined with robots? Supernova missed the opportunity of organizing an ethical debate about the impact of technological development on our human identity. Next edition,I hope they will gather philosophers, artists, politicians and scientists to openly discuss the ethics of new tech.
The Supernova audience was tech savvy. I met a lot of engineers working for a start-up, digital marketeers and service designers... People who embrace change and love to experiment. Personally, I rather would’ve seen a more diverse audience. Sometimes it felt like the presenters were preaching to a choir.
At MultiMinds we want to inspire the widest possible audience about new technological possibilities in the field of data and analytics. So, we are always open to talk about how analytics can enhance your business.
When working with data you have to be aware of the sensitivity of your actions. That's why at MultiMinds we always involve an end user's perspective into our projects. What would the user think of feel when we capture data? What does he get in return? How does it improve something? Technology should always serve the end user. Your customers should get the benefit from new technology, not the burden.
A long road ahead
Although I was blown away by the fancy presentations and tech boots, I also realized before technology will solve all of our daily problems. When leaving Antwerp, I got stuck in a huge traffic jam. The smart city project of Antwerp still has flaws, so it seems.
Feel free to contact us to know more about how we create value from data and analytics.