Weekend takeaway: Inspirefest dishes up some food for thought

25 Aug 2017

Lunchtime at Inspirefest 2017. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

From robotics to ransomware, we take a look back at some of the movers and shakers that graced the Inspirefest 2017 stage.

Earlier this week, the dates for Inspirefest 2018 were officially announced. Hurrah!

Since 2015, sci-tech enthusiasts have flocked to the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin for the summer conference that plays host to “the best and brightest minds in Europe”.

We have seen a myriad of inspirational speakers come through the Inspirefest doors over the years, from Kimberly Bryant to Brenda Romero.

For the eager beavers among you, Ultra Early Bird tickets are now available to buy online at the reduced rate of €175. Snap them up before they’re gone!

In the meantime, though, what better way to mark the occasion than to take a look back at the highlights of the event that took place last July?

1. Leadership and change: Motherhood, at 40, taught me what both really are

Having accomplished just about everything in business, Dr Anita Sands thought herself a fearless changemaker – until her baby girl showed her what one really looks like.

In a guest column for Siliconrepublic.com, Sands sums up her Inspirefest 2017 speech with a clever and humorous take on the birth of Baby Rosie.

2. Shelly Porges busts the five most common funding myths

What do investors really want? Shelly Porges has the answers.

Returning to Inspirefest stage this summer, Porges offered some sage words of investment wisdom, backed up by decades of in-depth entrepreneurial experience. Here, Ellen Tannam derives the best nuggets from her speech and presents the five investment myths, as debunked by Porges.

3. John Romero: A boy from the desert who learned about STEAM the hard way

Another returning speaker, veteran video game designer and programmer John Romero – who is co-owner of Romero Games along with his partner Brenda – appeared at Inspirefest to discuss his role in some of the most iconic video games of all time.

Delving into the importance of the ‘A’ in STEAM, Colm Gorey examined Romero’s legacy, and maps his journey from the desert of Arizona to the west of Ireland.

4. Ransomware is the best problem infosec has had in decades

People have come to fear ransomware more than ever before, picturing it as an evil entity ready to infect our computers, our phones and our software at any given moment. But did you know that it might actually be a good thing in the long term?

Tarah Wheeler gave a riveting performance at Inspirefest 2017, and Jenny Darmody was on hand to compile her best quotes into a bite-sized portrayal of the world of infosec.

5. Arlan Hamilton represents the new wave of venture capitalism

As a black, lesbian woman, Arlan Hamilton is rewriting the rulebook of venture capital.

John Kennedy finds out more about the woman behind Backstage Capital, a VC firm that is bringing diversity to Silicon Valley.

6. Ana Matronic: ‘Robots confuse the boundaries between life and death’

If you couldn’t tell, the name Ana Matronic is a sure sign that someone has not just an interest in robots, but an outright fascination and love for them.

That was made clear on stage at Inspirefest 2017 when the Scissor Sisters singer, DJ and author took us back through her life, from an obsession with The Bionic Woman, to dressing as a robot at a burlesque show in San Francisco.

7. Fundamentally, the goal of humankind is to save time – Marcus Weldon

What’s the greatest ever idea posed by creators of science fiction? Is it aliens visiting Earth? Humans developing superpowers? Time travel?

The latter could well be the answer, with Marcus Weldon, president of Bell Labs, adamant that saving time (or even creating time) is humanity’s sole goal.

8. Productivity is the buzzword that’s killing creativity

Who is sick of hearing the word ‘productivity’ in the workplace? Dropbox’s Adrienne Gormley certainly is.

“Everyone has a buzzword they never want to hear again,” she said on stage at Inspirefest. “For me, that buzzword is productivity.”

9. Is AI as important a breakthrough as electricity? No, it’s much more

One of Ireland’s brightest stars in the field of artificial intelligence, Intel’s David Moloney offered a prophetic vision of an incredible future at Inspirefest 2017.

However, he warned that humans pose the biggest risk to its success.

10. What is dividing the genders at work? It may stem from the Constitution

There’s a pay gap between men and women. There appears to be a substantial professional opportunity gap, too. But why? In Ireland, it may well be written in black and white.

That’s according to Dr Michelle Cullen, a managing director, and diversity and inclusion lead at Accenture Ireland.

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM. Ultra Early Bird Tickets for Inspirefest 2018 are on sale now!

Shelly Madden was sub-editor of Silicon Republic