Progress and responsibility: IFA+ Summit gives a glimpse of the future

More than 550 visitors took part in the two-day future convention at IFA, the IFA+ Summit. Under the slogan 'Shifting Patterns – The Rise of Dataism', the convention discussed the growing power of data in four Patterns, as well as the responsibility that comes along with this and the potential dangers and challenges for society’s structures.

The executive director of Mozilla Firefox Foundation, Mark Surman, opened the IFASummit with a keynote speech in the Society Pattern. His talk focused on the essential role of artificial intelligence within the most valuable public resource: the Internet. Above all, companies must take more responsibility in combining artificial intelligence and a democratic society. Robert Sparrow (Monash University, Melbourne) and Lina Dencik (founder of Data Justice Labs) also emphasised in their talks ethical responsibility during the development and utilisation of pioneering technologies. Cansu Canca, Founder and CEO of AI Ethics Lab, said about ethics and artificial intelligence: 'The integration of ethics is like solving a puzzle, only that the pieces are constantly in motion.'

The second Pattern focused on the interaction of humans and technology. Shermin Voshmgir, founder of BlockchainHubs, spoke on the chances and risks of blockchain: 'Blockchains make it easier to generate and manage a purpose-driven token at a low cost.' Philipp Sander illuminated the finance system in more detail. He shared his perspective on the debate of whether the use of crypto currency requires a renewal of the system. The Pattern ended in a closing round of discussions on which challenges and barriers are currently blocking the introduction of blockchain.

The second day took a look at learning machines and robots as part of the Intelligence Pattern. Jerry M. Chow (senior manager Quantum System Technology group, IBM), speaking on the title 'How to Ctrl-Alt-Del This Quantum Computer?', focused on quantum technology, the next big step in machine learning. Shalev Lifshitz, one of the youngest AI researchers worldwide, talked about humanity and artificial intelligence in this Pattern: 'Each new innovation brings with it both positive and negative possibilities. Dangerous is when human and AI goals are not in line with one another. We have to bring these goals in harmony in order to guarantee positive progress.'

On Monday, the participants of the IFA+ Summit also had the opportunity to take a look behind the scenes of the new Hollywood blockbuster Gemini Man with Will Smith during an exclusive workshop. Stuart Adcock, head of the Facial Motion Department at Weta Digital, presented the advanced technology with which the Oscar-winning director Ang Lee created a completely digital Will Smith for the new film.

The fourth and last session of the IFA+ Summit 2019, in the Experience Pattern, put the spotlight on new realms of experience that entail dataism. Renowned speakers such as Joachim Sauter (Berlin University of the Arts), Hazumu Yamazaki (co-founder and CSO of Empath Inc.) and Véronique Larcher (director AMBEO Immersive Audio at Sennheiser) explained the outlook of spaces in the future, in terms of their experience, and how smart design will change our lives. Digital immortality is the focus of Véronique Larcher from Sennheiser. In her short talk, she told us about how bots can give us a voice even after we have passed. How human perception and the forms of expression are continually developing further were illustrated in an additional round of discussions afterwards. At the end, the VR artist Wesley Allsbrook created live in front of the audience a virtual world as part of her performance.

IFA is taking place in 2020 from 4 to 9 September, and the IFA+ Summit from 6 to 7 September 2020. You can find all the information about the IFA+ Summit at www.ifaplussummit.com. Follow us on Twitter (@ifaplussummit) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/ifaplussummit) for the latest updates.

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