It’s all about people: SingularityU Portugal Summit Cascais, day 2
The second day of the summit started with the official announcement of SingularityU Portugal, made by Ricardo Marvão, Executive Director of SingularityU Portugal: “In August of last year I dreamed of bringing Singularity University to Portugal.” According to the Executive Director, “the leader of the future has the ability to admit that he does not know everything”, considering that the debut of the program in Portugal will inspire and better train leaders.
Next, Viviene Ming reflected on the human potential in the world of technologies. The speaker said that artificial intelligence is a tool to solve current problems, but that alone does not solve them. Ming reinforced the importance of the human side of technologies as a fundamental factor for innovation: “There are difficult problems created by humans that need equally difficult human solutions.”
About medicine and biotechnology, Divya Chander, neuroscientist and futurist, highlighted several practical cases of application of technologies to improve the quality of life of patients. From wearables to artificial intelligence, Divya concluded that these revolutions are happening and creating striking solutions that allow the resolution of problems such as access to basic health conditions. Also on this topic, Sílvia Curado, Professor and Research Director of the New York University School of Medicine, encouraged the audience to reflect on accountability versus directness in the world of science and in particular in genetics.
Nathaniel Calhoun, a faculty member of Singularity University, also reinforced the importance of people and disruption in solving society’s problems. With the increase of today’s global challenges, Nathaniel believes that with the use of technology, “various industries have to change and adapt to the society of abundance.” In this sense, Nathaniel presented several examples of cooperation initiatives that encourage participation and change, created by and for citizens, with the aim of improving the lives of the populations.
Throughout the conferences were also addressed themes that showed the purpose of exponential technologies in various sectors of activity. Energy, as noted by Ramez Naam is one of the sectors with great potential where the use of exponential technologies can create new methods and improve the way energy is used and seen. Renewable energies are the future, since according to Ramez “the growth of energies like solar and wind are becoming cheaper and growing at a very fast pace.” He also highlighted Portugal as a country with a climate propitious to the use of renewable energy and electric cars. He concluded by saying that “in the long run we will have cheaper, accessible and renewable energies, which encourages the investment of foreign companies in the country.
SingularityU Portugal Summit Cascais has also raised the question about the search for life outside of planet Earth and how we can improve the future while we are still on it. Zita Martins led this topic and explained that “the future is just around the corner. In about 40 years we will have to deal with new challenges and go further: to new moons and planets. That is why we need to develop technologies and tools today that enable us to improve the quality of life on Earth and respond to these challenges”, said Martins.
During the afternoon, other topics such as the decentralization of technologies were discussed by Alex Gladstein, Strategy Director of the Human Rights Foundation, who pointed out that “Portugal is a very inspiring country on the subject of decentralization.” He approached the differentiation between decentralization and centralization with practical cases, such as bitcoin, as an example of “disruption of financial monopolies.”
With the rapid growth of exponential technologies and with their full potential, problems arise that must be considered so that their usage is efficient and not detrimental to the future. Divya Chander and Viviene Ming returned to the stage to address ethical issues, considering that these are always present when creating revolutionary technologies. According to these two neuroscientists, their use for unintended purposes is an “obvious consequence” that must be taken into account. Both speakers alerted that “together, as a community, we must decide how and what happens. We must decide what we do with our data and choose when and how we deliver it. But above all, we need to be ready to apply our rights. “
Ethical issues must be one of the priorities of the leadership since their impact will have a determining role in future and exponential technologies. This is how David Roberts closed the summit, delivering an inspirational conference that emphasized that “technologies, namely artificial intelligence, make things easier”, giving as an example “the internet and the smartphones that changed the world.”
When comparing humans to monkeys and ants, David Roberts silenced the audience by challenging those present to reflect what kind of “species” we are, referring to hunger in various parts of the world, warning that technology makes us more “powerful, but does not make us kinder. “
David also oriented his speech to leadership, having repeated a few times that all people can make a difference and that leadership is to create other great leaders, teaching them to have a good character: “exponential leaders do not change the world, they change themselves”. Roberts ended the conference by saying he has “a great hope for the people and the future of Portugal”.
With all said and done, and with a beautiful sunset down in Carcavelos beach, it was time for networking around a pint or a glass of wine. It was a pleasure for us to make this two days journey with all the presents, knowing that what we talked and discuss will have a significant impact on most lives.
For now, is time for the SingularityU Portugal programs to start. Actually, the first one was already delivered yesterday, October 11th. Yes, we know, we don’t waste any time. That is exponential thinking.