Digital Freedom Festival Keynote Speakers Share Their Vision of a Common Future for Humans and Machines

Keynote speakers at the Digital Freedom Festival explored the role and implications of technology in the future society. The central – Future stage of the festival was named in honor of the central theme of this year’s festival – Human & Machine. The Digital Freedom Festival takes place on November 30 and December 1 in Riga.

The festival’s opening presentation by Jamie Susskind, author of Future Politics, focused on how digital technology transforms – and will keep transforming – politics, democracy, and society. Jamie pointed out that our civilisation is moving towards a Digital Lifeworld which is another major transformation equal to that brought by the Industrial Revolution. Several realms where this manifests are Artificial Intelligence, Increasingly capable systems and Increasingly more data all around us.

Jamie Susskind pointed out that the future technology won’t look like a piece of hardware – a keyboard, a mouse or even a screen. Instead, tech will be all around us, and even inside us.

He also emphasized that technology will increasingly be transformed into a form of power – and those who write the code will make the rules and accumulate more and more power.

Our present world can be compared to a door with a DO NOT ENTER sign on it. The future world will look more like a locked door, as the technology will make it increasingly difficult to break the rules and commit small crimes like exceeding the speed limit or streaming a movie illegally. – Jamie Susskind

Hal Hodson, The Economist tech correspondent, in the following discussion asked Jamie Susskind if the digital world can be considered a separate space, like land, sea, and air. Jamie answered that you can exit cyberspace simply by logging off. But, in the future digital world, there will be a very little spatial distinction between where tech starts and stops.

In the following presentation “Leadership in Disruptive Times: How to Compete in the Digital World” Gabi Zedlmayer, social innovator and president of the Women’s Council at Hypo Vereinsbank Unicredit, emphasized the inequality in today’s business world, with white men still heavily overrepresented – even in relatively new tech industries such as the Artificial Intelligence (AI).

As data is doubling every day, life and work change exponentially and ‘business as usual’ is dying, we need to learn how to adapt to the new situation. – Gabi Zedlmayer

Gabi Zedlmayer’s advice to the audience is to build a very diverse network of people around you – not only consisting of your friends who think the same as you. She concluded the presentation inviting everyone to shift from knowing the rules to making the rules.

Keynote speakers gave the floor to successful startup founders, starting with Henry Ines, CEO at Shivom. His presentation “Future of Health. Reinvention of Healthcare and Wellness” explored how can fast-moving technologies help to reinvent health and medicine.

Henry highlighted the ownership of our very sensitive data as a major problem today. His startup Shivom is a blockchain-powered platform for the secure storage and sharing of genomic data, which has the potential to transform the healthcare ecosystem. However, this progressive startup was just the first in a row of many inspiring presentations by startup founders from around the world within the Digital Freedom Festival 2018.