A Morning at Microsoft’s Future Now Conference

Daniel Fish
4 min readMar 30, 2019

This week I was lucky enough to attend the Microsoft Future Now conference at Carriage Works in Sydney (one of my favourite venues in this fair city by the way). It was my first time attending this event and the first post our Series B round of fundraising recently. You can read more about this, and some thoughts as to why the Microsoft team invested in GO1, below.

Speaking at the conference was a fantastic selection of Microsoft heavy weights and guests. Kicking off proceedings was Microsoft Australia Managing Director Steven Worrall. He spoke passionately about “people first, technology second” and paid a heartfelt tribute to two Microsoft Partner representatives who lost their lives in the terrible Christchurch terrorist attack. Following Steven was Brad Smith, Global President for Microsoft, who passed on great insight and thinking from within the business over the last 2 decades. Closing proceedings was an experienced panel of speakers providing real insight around how to win the battle for talent in today’s ever evolving society. The panel was chaired by Narelle Hooper (Editor of Company Director) and included Chuck Edward (Corporate VP, Head of Global Talent Acquisition at Microsoft) and Sara Caplan (PwC Australia’s National Skills Lead and CEO of PwC’s Skills for Australia).

Now onto a couple of the highlights from the Future Now conference itself:

Genevieve on stage discussing the future is here. A photo taken in a Japan subway on 2003 pre smart phones

Genevieve Bell — Anthropologist, Professor Engineering & Computer Science at The Australian National University and former Intel exec.

Genevieve delivered an incredibly engaging talk called ‘The future is now: the intersection of culture and technology’. The discussion broke down into some key areas:

A world of Data and its dis | contents

  • Think about how attendees got to the conference today e.g. tap on/off public transport, ride share, scanned coming into buildings etc

Life in the age of Algorithms?

  • A lot of what we do is predicated on a notion of like, like and like. So we are surfaced those things that are familiar or that we ‘like’.
  • Think about the ‘cultural’ phenomenon of reality TV and programs like Desperate Housewives; Orange County, Melbourne, Beverly Hills etc.
  • There is also the feeling that we do not experience any more of being lost. I felt it in Venice when Google Maps ceased to work in the narrow alley ways of that amazing city and I felt like a kid again.

Is everybody Listening?

  • The question marks and issues around Privacy and trust. A big and topical piece throughout the conference and what is happening in society today.

The logic of Cyber Physical Systems

  • Think about lifts of today and the role AI will be playing in something so simple. There are no buttons, people get in, panic etc initially. However, it will get you to where you need to go in the most efficient way possible

New Metrics

  • 10% of energy bills spent on server farms

Is there a role for Wonder

  • Shakespeare’s Globe theatre in London has been embracing technology to deliver both an interactive 360 AR App as well as starting to integrate the digital world into certain plays. One production recently used more computer processing power than it takes to keep a shuttle in space.

And how will We encounter the future?

  • AI technologies are heralding the next industrial revolution. We are now seeing their rapid convergence into systems — cyber-physical systems — that will have unprecedented impact on humanity through deep economic, social and cultural shifts. In order to face these challenges head on, Genevieve is running the 3Ainstitute. She called out for any willing participants to reach out and get involved as she cannot do this on her own. You can find more details below.

https://3ainstitute.cecs.anu.edu.au/

If you’ve not heard any of her work I would strongly urge you to check it out. There are are many videos and articles to be found. Click here to start watching.

Mikaela Jade delivering the Welcome to Country, Future Now Sydney 28 March 2019

Mikaela Jade — Founder & CEO of Indigital.

Mikaela delivered the Welcome to Country but also spoke about her amazing business, Indigital. I would urge you to check it out. One of the best utilisations of Augmented Reality (AR) I’ve seen.

They are using AR to help educate and inform Aboriginal children and adults about their culture in the most magical way. It really is one of the most effective uses of AR I have seen to date. I’ll let the technology do the talking.

https://www.indigital.net.au

For more information on this event or the speakers please do not hesitate in reaching out on the details below.

http://iamdanfish.me/

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