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The legendary technology, movie, and music festival South by South West took place in Austin, Texas. Kruso’s Client Partner Kasper Sauders Bang took part in the first half of the conference with focus on “Intelligent Future”.
During the 9+ days the conference lasts, it attracted more than 100.000 people from all over the world. They came for the special “SXSW Buzz” as Austin transforms to one big buzzing beehive of people, opinion-leaders, and speakers from the top shelf, e.g. Melinda Gates, Elon Musk, Bernie Sanders, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sadiq Khan to mention a few.
SXSW is known for the ability of mixing robust professionalism with opinions and attitude, and the ethics behind the technology was essential in a lot of the presentations and speaks. In many ways, SXSW’s choice of speakers symbolizes the general theme of the conference; a time where we are able to do (almost) everything, we need to remember to keep the ethics and sustainability in mind, in the process, and in the choices we make for the future.
If Kasper should point out three headlines setting the tone for his SXSW 2018 experience it would be:
Automation, prerequisite, and coherence in the technologies
The divert ethical dilemmas in and by technology
Blockchain and Artificial intelligence
This is massive, global topic and throughout a short week you are taken away by the impressions, possibilities, and opinions in a steady flow. That is why, it is important not only to take it all in but also to transfer it into opinion and sense.
A quote from one of the speakers that really hit the head on the nail;
”Now you’ve got it! What are you going to do with it?”
Or put a bit in a nutshell:
“When your coffee machine is able to make decisions on an informed basis, faster than yourself, will you let it?”
In a historical perspective, we have become able to do so unimaginably much in a very short amount of time. Actually, to a degree where the limit of what we can do with technology moves way faster than we are able to comprehend.
Machine Learning, Internet of Things, and Artificial Intelligence linked together in neutral networks create a technology swarm. It has an incredible potential, and we have to admit that we do not necessarily know what to do with it or how it works. And maybe that is okay.
It is a bit like driving on autopilot in a Tesla. Most of us probably do not understand how it does this, but it does, and it works. That is why, we willingly let go of control and drive 130 km/h with no hands. We do that because it does something we seek and demand on such a level, we will put our faith directly in the hands of technology.
John Verdi from the American Future of Privacy Forum (FPF) made an excellent example on this point. We, as humans, are so busy with the idea of controlling the technologies, but after all a “technology user” has a tendency to choose with the heart and not the head.
John Verdi said;” Conveniencewins over Compliance, and that is why we are willing to let go of control in return for something cool and automatic.”
Especially, he mentioned the paradox, Internet of Things, as related to GDPR; “GDPR is the promise of data protection. Data is your property. The challenge is just that in practice a lot of consumers would give up this ownership in order to get something smart in return and the consumers decide everything and drive the development.” This is probably not the last time we will wrestle with this paradox.
Amber Baldet, Executive Program Lead for the American bank, J.P. Morgan’s Blockchain Center of Excellence, held a brilliant presentation about the financial sector’s work with Blockchain. This center did not exist three years ago but is now some of the hottest in the company. As Amber Baldet expresses it;
”From a technical perspective, Blockchain is very immature today. It would compare to how the internet was in the late 80ies. You knew it would be important, but you did not know why, or which influence it would have, and from a technical perspective it was super immature. But at the same time we just KNOW that Blockchain will mean everything for out sector without really knowing why and how. That is why we have to be a part of the primary research if we want to succeed as a company. We have to invest and sometimes fail for it to succeed.”
The last statement is extremely important for our ability to embrace future technologies and opportunities. We have to allow ourself to fail in order to succeed – also in our work with other at present more down-to-earth technologies than Blockchain.
SXSW is an amazing experience and left me with a mix of distant concern and immense excitement. On the one hand we, in particularly Denmark, have come so far in our efforts and successes with digitalizing our society and making our processes more efficient. At the same time, we look down the road and see some massive transformative technologies changing everything - some places we even see this already. It has never been more exciting to work with IT and technology than now.