Singularity University Germany Summit 2018

"All truck drivers in the USA will be jobless in 5 years." Exponential technologies, exponential richness, exponential poverty...where will Virtual Reality (VR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain etc. take us in the next few years? Read ambuzzador ABC's review of 2018's Singularity University Germany Summit in Berlin.

“Our biggest risk is to not think big enough.” This quote by Amin Toufani sums up my learnings of this year’s Singularity University Germany Summit in Berlin. For those of you not too familiar with the concept, the think-tank behind Singularity University deals with exponential technologies and their fundamental impact on global economy and society.

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My social entrepreneur’s heart skipped a beat when I noticed that the two days would not only be about exponential technologies, blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR). Several speakers had non-IT backgrounds and most sessions finished with a wake-up call on societal and environmental matters.

As an Agile Business Coach, I can summarize that ...

  • ... whereas certain types of jobs might soon become extinct (according to Rob Nail, all truck drivers in the USA will be jobless within the next 5 years)
  • ... my profession will gain even more importance in future. Omar Abbosh, CSO of Accenture, recommends that about 50% of companies’ investment money should go into innovation projects away from the core business. After all, the rate of change that we experience today will never again be this slow. An idea so crazy and true that my grandparents would have a heart attack.
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For those of you not able to attend this year’s Germany Summit, I would like to share a short review including my personal highlights and learnings:

Exponential Technologies and their impact on our lives:

Amin Toufani’s exonomics focused on the work that we see as Agile Business Coaching. According to him, exponential systems are adaptable, scalable and self-manageable. Thus, companies in future needn’t have a look at people’s IQs, but rather at their AQs (Adaptability Quotient). The AQ will be much more important for predicting and measuring whether someone will be successful in their job or not. It is the responsibility of leaders (managers) to create environments where unlearning can be done safely. According to Toufani, every company should have something like a Chief Adaptability Officer. That’s what I call the Agile Coach Cercle or Transformation Office.

Furthermore, Amin Toufani made me realise that our real estate market will drastically change once self-driving cars become affordable to the masses. After all, who will really want to live in a city when you could lean back and watch a movie, eat, sleep or work on your way to and from the office? Just like the elevator led to people not caring about what floor they live on, self-driving cars will change real estate investment.

Jeffrey Rogers shocked me by stating that an iPhone 5S already has more computing power than what NASA had to put 2 men on the moon. Singularity University challenges our society to really ask itself the question of whether we are using this computing power as well as we could / should be?!

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My absolute highlight was Jaya Baloo, who gave me new insights into the mind of a hacker. Her summary of the usual process is that hackers go from doing it for fun (childhood / teenage years) to hacking for profit to hacking for political reasons. This is an analysis that needs to be taken seriously, as hack volumes are increasing. Furthermore, it is shocking that our political system is lagging so far behind - currently, there is no Geneva Convention on cyber warfare, meaning that there are no rules to a game that is mostly hurting civilians. This issue of hacking is actually so large, that China has built a hack-proof quantum computer network. Strangely, no other country has done this so far. However, some companies have understood that the threat is real, leading to competitors working together to safeguard each other from being hacked. Here’s a Dutch example. However, if one day you or your company get hacked, Baloo’s advice is to never pay the hackers' ransom. Instead, one can get help at www.nomoreransom.org.

Virtual Reality against sexual harassment:

Neil Jacobstein blew my mind with all the possibilities that VR will bring along. Just imagine getting soft skill trainings, such as “How to notice and act upon sexual harassment in the office” using virtual reality? Or what if – as a C-level manager - you do not have to explain to your employees the need for change anymore, as instead you can make them experience the effects of not-changing via VR? Instead of teaching pupils all about other countries, you could virtually travel there (see Google Expeditions). According to Jacobstein, VR will be so important that in a few years’ time, companies will need to have an online virtual world. According to SingularityU, most companies don’t seem to be aware of this - just as 15 years ago, not all companies realised that they would need to have a website.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) paving the way for more Agility:

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How will AI change manufacturing towards more agility? Thanks to 3D or 4D (= 3D + time) printing, it could be ideally used for printing one’s own spare parts. Currently, too much money is lost due to bad suppliers and 3D printing allows production to move closer to the point of use. A good example of how supply chain issues could immediately be solved would be by being able to print missing parts on oil rigs.

Blockchain as a leading instrument towards more political freedom at Singularity University:

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Who understands Blockchain?

According to Alex Gladstein, bitcoins can be seen as a political statement, as they help citizens of poorer countries to avoid hyper deflation. Consider this: more than 4 billion people currently live under oppressive leadership. 2.4 billion people don’t even have an official form of ID. Yet, bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies provide them with a new-found freedom, since bitcoin wallets can be used when fleeing a country to pay and pave one’s way into freedom. However, don’t be fooled! China’s WeChat wallet for transferring money is in place for the exact opposite reason of better monitoring its people.

For further examples, here’s some super cool links:

Living in a transforming world or Singularity University Germany Summit in a nutshell:

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Mission to the Moon. (by vodafone)

The conference had a unique, fun and open atmosphere that could immediately be noticed when entering. I was happy to get to experience a Virtual Reality Escape Room Game during the breaks and squeeze past the landing module ALINA from Vodafone’s Mission to the Moon. In hindsight, I even learned new words, such as “uberisation”, describing the just-in-time delivery of services. I have also been reminded that one should go forth to fail and to be creative. As Pascal Finette said: “to fail” simply means first attempt in learning, while creativity is the necessary connection between these learning experiences. I am looking forward to attending again next year and add to our collection of reviews on Singularity University Summits.