Unearthing deeptech innovation worldwide — Meet our Curators — #2

With less than 10 days left to apply to the Global Challenge, Hello Tomorrow is more than ever on the look for the best deeptech startups around, working with incredibly talented individuals, dedicated to sourcing the best projects. Here’s a little behind-the-scenes view with an interview of one of our most active curators, Loïc-Yann Bardon, based in Paris.

What was your motivation to become a curator at Hello Tomorrow?

There’s a great saying in Chinese that says “ If you want to know about the future, ask your children.”

I have had a passion for deep tech since my elder son was born, 6 years ago. Becoming a dad, I started to think about my role, and I realised that I wanted to give my kids the keys to understand the future so that they could choose the part they want to play in it.
In my opinion, deeptech breakthroughs will totally disrupt our society with an unprecedented scope, velocity and impact.

I attended a Hello Tomorrow summit in Paris, 2 years ago. I really liked the state of mind and all the keynotes. Everyone was brilliant and open-minded, just like science Jedi using the Force to empower humanity. So I want to help to create the best tools for deeptech. The future has a massive potential for us as people. I believe we all should be active, futurist thinkers and doers.

Any advice for an early-stage deeptech startup?

Our world is moving from an economy dominated by digital platforms to one dominated by AI-first companies. This AI-first strategy is driving their new business models. So my advice would be: Learn from the best. Adopt an AI-first strategy and create value from the data you gather.

Indeed, embracing the power of data is a must. The more data you have, the better your product will be; the better your product is, the more data you can collect; the more data you can gather, the more talent you can attract; the more talent you can attract, the better your product is. There you go, you’ve got yourself a virtuous circle!

Use data to track and maximise the overall customer engagement. Customer experience should be your primary concern in a world where little differentiates products other than the user-experience and services wrapped around them. Use data and neuroscience principles such as nudge theory, to become a master of personalisation and engagement.

Nowadays, the most influential brands are creating content that’s tailor-made for its customers.

Nonetheless, as you are using data, you will face the “privacy paradox”, i.e. being caught between using data to provide better consumer experiences and violating consumer privacy. So I would advise combining AI algorithms and blockchain to create an open, decentralised, and privacy by design value proposition as a key differentiator to your competitors.

What makes you excited yet worried at the same time?

Technology has no ethics because technology is a tool. It’s only our humanity that can make a difference. The future is much too important to be left to intelligent machines and algorithms.

We’re entering a new relationship between man and machine, and it’s only a few years away. We live in a world of exponential technological changes, where science fiction edges closer to actual science, every day.

We are leaving the early days of Blade Runner. For example, last year, Saudi Arabia has granted citizenship to Sophia. It was the 1st time a country has granted a robot the same basic rights and privileges as humans. A few days after, Tokyo became the 1st city to grant residence to an artificial intelligence officially.

How will we respond, as these next-gen robots become integrated throughout society, in our communities, offices and homes? How do we converge man and machine? How do we build protection for humans? What is our social contract for this?

If we keep thinking linear, the future is going to be bad for us. Politics, government, and business we have to think exponentially.

Let’s forecast a little. What kind of trends do you see emerging in the next 10 years?

In 10 years, 7.5 billion people will have access to all human knowledge via the Internet with mobile devices, in their pocket, and with massive storage and processing capacity. But the challenges humanity is facing are tremendous.

Let’s take 3 examples:

  1. Automation & geopolitical issues

We don’t need a general AI to kill jobs. Automation will come through many narrow-specialised AI, quite dumb actually, to drive us to a societal, cultural singularity.

Considering mass unemployment, who will pay to educate or retrain people in tasks AI isn’t good at? One solution would be that governments could raise taxation rates on wealthy companies. This could be feasible in AI champions countries like USA or China, but what about other countries? Such a solution would reshape today’s geopolitical alliances.

2. Education/competitiveness to machines

I think that schools of the future will not be about knowledge anymore, but about brains. What if future education would start in utero?

China is already working on a process that mixes genetic sequencing and data analysis from supercomputers. Their aim is finding the key of superintelligence and produce generations of Einstein. If they succeed, there would be two human types: Einstein-like vs average people.

So to stay competitive, are we going to have to connect with machines directly? Augmentation ethics are going to become a central question. If bio-enhancements become popular products, we humans will be transformed into a kind of assessed, measured and exchanged platform.

3. Longevity

For the past 150 years, human life expectancy has grown 3 months longer every year. We are on the verge of transforming our healthcare, to predict and repair bodies rather than curing. Alphabet, combining genomics, big data, supercomputers and AI wants to extend our lifespan by 20 years as soon as 2035.

Extended lives would have a tremendous impact: job openings given fewer retirements, copyright durations, prison sentences, social security, pensions, crime, inheritance being transfer later… Lifespan extension could even influence political and social change.

Thank you for your insights, Loïc-Yann !

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