Future Human 2022 shines a light on what’s next

13 May 2022

Jack Kavanagh. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

As Future Human draws to a close for another year, we look back at some of the highlights from day two.

Following a full day of inspirational talks yesterday (12 May), Future Human returned for its second day, with another set of speakers as well as an all-new set of masterclasses for both its in-person and online audience.

Kicking off the main stage was Aon’s global president, Eric Andersen. In her introduction, Future Human curator Ann O’Dea explained that she flew out to New York to sit down with Andersen to discuss the future of leadership. “Here’s one we made earlier,” she said, before a video of their fireside chat played.

Andersen talked about what leaders need to think about as we move into what we have come to know as the new normal. “How you lead the people … starts with the right culture,” he said.

Andersen was followed by Prof Catherine Welch, chair of strategic management of Trinity Business School. She shared really valuable insights for start-ups and entrepreneurs around how they can mitigate risk as they scale.

She called out Atlassian in particular, a software company that de-risked by prioritising product over sales and marketing, and became known by word of mouth. While she did talk about the risks that start-ups can face, she ended on a positive note, simply saying: “I’ll end on the word opportunities.”

The audience was then treated to a fireside chat between SiliconRepublic.com editor Elaine Burke and Enterprise Ireland’s Jenny Melia, who manages the technology and services team.

Melia discussed the country’s start-up ecosystem and shared wisdom for any leaders, entrepreneurs and budding founders. “When start-ups are formulating their idea, it’s important to build it for an international audience, not just an Irish audience,” she said.

‘If you don’t bake in inclusive behaviour at the early stages, it is much harder to do it later’

The event then shifted focus towards accessibility and healthcare, starting with a fireside chat between Burke, Trevor Vaugh and Keith Davey.

Vaugh is the principal investigator at the Maynooth University Innovation Lab and is also known for his work on RTÉ’s the Big Life Fix, while Davey is the co-founder and CEO of Marino Software.

Together, they are the inventors behind the software that has given broadcaster Charlie Bird back his voice. The audience enjoyed a fascinating discussion about voice banking technology and the benefits it can bring to those with motor neurone disease.

As part of the discussion, the audience also got to see an exclusive clip from an upcoming documentary about Bird and technology, which will air on RTÉ on 13 June.

While the audience was already on a high from that fascinating conversation, they were then introduced to Jack Kavanagh, a disability advocate who suffered a spinal cord injury a decade ago in a swimming accident.

The entire room was captivated as Kavanagh shared his story of how he “went from being a person to being a patient” and how that experience completely reshaped his mindset and how he views health in our society.

He closed his discussion by talking about the negativity bias we all have and how it’s important to change that mindset by bringing positivity, gratitude and compassion into our lives.

Next up was Alice Pannier, who leads the geopolitics of technology programme at the French institute of international relations, Ifri. Pannier gave an intriguing and timely talk about how current issues within the geopolitical system can effect the tech world and vice versa.

To close off the main stage, Astia CEO Sharon Vosmek dialled in to give an honest insight into the problems with inclusivity. “If you don’t bake in inclusive behaviour at the early stages, it is much harder to do it later,” she said.

After the main stage closed, attendees were treated to a brand-new experience with masterclasses, which were available for both online and in-person attendees.

Classes ranged from disaster forecasting in a changing climate, to mitigating the risks of trade secret threat, and the deployment of robotics in healthcare – featuring Mylo, a monitoring companion robot for vulnerable people.

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Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic