For those who did not have the chance to attend the KIMConference in Barcelona on the 7th day of May 2019, I am graciously sharing some of my key takeouts below:
Jordi William Carnes, President for LEITAT Technological Center, opened the debate praising the City of Barcelona for its innovative environment. In his opinion, Barcelona is well positioned in Europe but there is a catch: the city fails to retain Talent in favour of other capital such as London, Berlin or Amsterdam.
The main issue seems to be a lack of money. Public funding is scarce and discretional when innovation requires long term continuous support.
Jordi also mentioned the need to build more bridges between SME and large companies and to foster internationalization even further.
Marc Pous, CEO for thethings.iO then brushed a picture of how our future could look like with all those innovations going on.
He started talking about the technological singularity, the time when machines will reach a state of self-consciousness; the challenge for mankind being that our brain is linear whereas technologies are exponentials.
In his opinion, the following technologies will reshape the world:
- Internet of Things
- Artificial Intelligence & Cryptocurrencies
- 3D Printing (we are now printing organs)
- Energy and Electricity
- New Materials (Graphene)
- Neuroscience & Biotechnology
- Quantum computing
New technologies are empowering us to the point that can now do some of the extraordinary things that our Greek and Roman ancestors only attributed to deities.
- Will the man of the future be a Deus ex machina?
- Greek deities could fly, so can we... with appropriate wearables
- Greek deities were stronger, so are we with exoskeletons
- Greek deities were ubiquitous, so can we be with holograms and the internet
- Greek deities could heal, so can we for most diseases
- Greek deities were immortal, so are... Hmm, not yet but life expectancy is rising and we may soon be able to print telomeres...
Sounds great? Well, not quite.
According to Marc, the problem with innovations is that our society has become addicted to dopamine. We want short term satisfaction, we want to be just one click away from the next episode of Game of Throne or from the tweet that will make us feel good, even if is a piece of fake news.
The way our society is leveraging technology is not optimum. In fact, it is rather the opposite. Marc bluntly asserted that without a dramatic change in our consumption habits, mankind is heading towards extinction and the point of no return is only 20 years ahead.
We only have 20 years to sort many issues:
- Hunger in the world
- Climate change
- Fatal diseases
- Clean water for all
- Energy shortage
- Switch to sustainable economies
According to Marc, the secret potion would be to swap our dopamine addict society for a society addicted to serotonin, where people would only aspire to live in peace and serenity instead of becoming richer, faster, sooner.
And that could be done through education.
To survive as human beings, we shall need to learn how to live in an exponential world, cohabiting with machines, and to feel happy about it.
What do politics have to say?
A panel of politics from all parties voiced their programme but since VC-A is an apolitical organisation, I will not comment here...
New cross-sector opportunities for SME and large corporations
Victor Saéz talked about the ITER programme. The fusion nuclear reactor under construction in the south of France near Aix-en-Provence comprises over one million components. €4 billion have already been invested, another €6,2 billion are budgeted.
From 2008 to 2014, ITER created 40 000 jobs; it will create 83 000 jobs until 2030.
The conference ended with acknowledgements, of which it may be worth mentioning the project EyeHarp financed by SIFU foundation, a gaze-controlled or head-controlled digital musical instrument that enables seriously handicapped people to learn and/or (re)play music.