In a year fraught with challenges, Future Human founder Ann O’Dea reflects on why an event celebrating remarkable thinkers, innovators and creators is more necessary than ever before.
This Thursday, 29 October, at 1pm sees the kick-off of the inaugural year of Future Human, the two-day sci-tech event created by the team behind the award-winning Inspirefest.
A common thread that will prevail throughout the event is the resilience of human beings and the celebration of human endeavour. Yes, Covid-19 will have a presence at the event, with expert speakers on the vaccine trials, NearForm’s contact-tracing app and the rise of patient-centric medtech. But also tackled will be the opportunities that this hiatus in our normal lives might offer us to reset our economy and our tech sector for the better.
Resilience is something the Future Human team has had to demonstrate in recent months, with a major event originally planned to take place in the state-of-the-art Trinity Business School now relegated to a mainly virtual event, although broadcasting live from a purpose-built studio in Dublin city.
We’re used to gathering a few thousand people in a theatre, and the connections made at our events are famous, so it would have been tempting to just postpone like so many others. But we had lined up some remarkable thinkers and in a way we felt there was never a more necessary time for an event like this. It’s so easy to lose hope in these dark and uncertain times – we wanted to look at what is possible, at a potentially better future.
Strategy and innovation expert Vijay Govindarajan was an influence in this thinking. Interviewing Vijay many moons ago, he really instilled in me the idea of selectively forgetting the past, but remembering to take the best along with you. This concept is explored in the musical opening on Thursday, but more will be revealed on the day.
Former NASA astronaut Joan Higginbotham – who flew aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery mission STS-116 as only the third African-American woman to go into space – will also share lessons from the past, followed by Emmy-award winning Félix Lajeunesse’s demonstration of how he plans to bring millions of people to space through world-class virtual reality.
Established leaders such as Verizon’s Ronan Dunne and Foundry Group’s Brad Feld will share the virtual stage with successful tech founders such as Cian Ó Maidín of NearForm and Andrea Reynolds of Swoop. Not to mention the young winners of this year’s BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition and the Technovation World Summit – future leaders to be sure.
Creativity and the arts will, as always, have their place at a Silicon Republic event. Composer and conductor Eímear Noone, the first woman to conduct the Oscars ceremony, will explore how traditional orchestras are tapping into cutting-edge technologies to keep their creativity alive during lockdown.
And we’ve only touched on the line-up here. RTÉ’s Tony Connelly will share his insights on the future for Europe with broadcaster Dearbhail McDonald. Martin Shanahan of IDA Ireland and Julie Sinnamon of Enterprise Ireland will share their experience of leading their respective organisations through the pandemic. A stellar line-up will look at the future of work, from the dean of Trinity Business School to Slack VP Ali Rayl and HubSpot’s Kieran Flanagan. These experts had all been looking at a remote future long before it was thrust upon us.
Of course, Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Brittany Kaiser is sure to be a big draw, with her extensive experience and strong views on how our data is being shared. A timely theme indeed as we all spend so much more time creating and sharing digital data.
There is so much food for thought at this year’s event, and it has never been easier to be part of it. Check out the full line-up and get your tickets at futurehuman.xyz.
Future Human is Silicon Republic’s international sci-tech event focusing on the future of work, climate, AI, security, robotics and life sciences. Live from Dublin, streaming to world on 29 and 30 October 2020. General, Executive and Student tickets are available now.
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