Inspiring highlights from up North: Thinking Digital 2019

Insights

Thursday, July 25, 2019

TheTin Newcastle have been attending Thinking Digital for several years now, aside from attending key industry events such as SXSW (read our SXSW write up here), our team up North also get the opportunity to attend this event full of brand and tech inspiration.

The first speaker the team saw was a talk by author Jamie Bartlett, who wrote ‘The People vs. Tech’. Jamie discussed the impact of tech on politics, misunderstood story of Cambridge Analytica and how targeted advertising is currently the norm. The real story to consider here is how elections are changing, what does an election in 20 years time look like? A platform such as Facebook having an impact politics would have been considered crazy in 1997. How will political parties deliver their message to their audience in the future and be considerate of data protection laws? Election laws are outdated, full visibility is needed to be able to keep politicians accountable and prevent cheating.

The second speaker we saw was Simona Francese, who talked about the power of touch and laser technology. Fingers contain unique patterns of lines, they contain an entire world of information, they are made up of molecules. Do you ever stop to think about the finger prints to leave behind? Criminals often don’t either and we can recover a lot of information from them, even if a fingerprint is vague or overlaps, due to the molecules telling a story - this is also referred to as chemical criminal profiling. The molecules can tell a story of medicine that might have been taken or materials that have been touched. Even alcohol can be detected, and therefore the state of a criminal when they committed a crime can be determined.

Another interesting talk was held by Sabine Hauert, a swarm engineer. She discussed how ants, bees and flicks self organise. And how we can recreate that using nanotechnology and how a group of flying robots can follow a set of rules. They might start quite messy but then start to form organised circles in the air. This can be applied in various ways at a large scale for businesses, for clean up of bridges, in Amazon warehouses, or when building housing.

Then Dave Erasmus talked about a different way of living life. He discussed the ‘Pura Vida’ state of mind and life from Costa Rica, off the grid living and how he feels a nation state system is not fit for purpose due to personal rights and inclusiveness being at a bigger risk. Erasmus claims that technology (and its developments) is like “Discover fire and figure out how not to burn our house down with it”. We need to collectivise ourselves so we are not constrained by our world.

Chris Stokes-Walker discussed the power of YouTube and its growth over the past 14 years. Content on YouTube has the power to influence people, not always in a good way. Conspiracy theorists are incited by YouTube, giving these theories a bigger platform. It can also affect our younger generation politically and scientifically considerably, due to the volume of YouTube content they devour on a daily basis. Which means we need to educate ourselves on the power behind the platform. Algorithms promote entertaining content, without media literacy. Poor or inaccurate content can get served easily.

There were so many more insights gained at Thinking Digital this year, with plenty of inspiring speakers. We can't wait for next year!

Sabine Hauert – Thinking Digital 2018, Newcastle

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