On September 19th this year we attended the excellent RE.WORK Technology Futures Summit in London. What follows is a short summary of the presentations delivered on the day:
Bruce Schlee, Co-Founder, Helical Robotics – Bruce discussed how robots and automation can change industries by mitigating risk and increasing profitability.
Rachel Armstrong, Co-Director, AVATAR, University of Greenwich – Rachel talked about her research which investigates opportunities to transform cities into soil-producing systems. Initial findings suggest that it may be possible to design synthetic soils that will help us transform waste into useful substrates which will however require a complete redesign of our buildings.
Skylar Tibbits, Director, Self-Assembly Lab, MIT – Skylar highlighted the potential of self-assembly and self-programmable materials for our future built environments. Smart materials that make decisions and self-configure themselves could certainly lead to innovation in construction, manufacturing and also to more sustainable cities.
The Future of our Urban Landscapes
Hedwig Heinsman ,Co-Founder, DUS Architects – Hedwig focused on 3D-printed buildings and what they would mean for the future of architecture. She revealed DUS Architect’s idea to 3D-print a version of the traditional Amsterdam canal house with the building process taking place at an open source construction site that functions as an expo- and event space.
Wearable Technology, Embedded Technologies & Design
Chris Brauer, CAST co-director and Senior Lecturer, Goldsmiths, University of London – Chris described how his team used mixed ethnographic and quantitative research methods to investigate the applications and impact of wearable technologies.
Despina Papadopoulos, Owner, Studio 5050 – Despina focused on the relationship between design, technology and ethics and highlighted how design principles can inspire sustainability.
Andy Goodman, Fjord – Andy gave several vivid examples of how emerging technology is changing our lives, increasingly blurring the lines between digital and physical, between the human body and the machine.
The Internet of Things, Data & the Citizen
Anab Jain, Founder, Superflux – Anab presented Internet of Things Academy –Superflux project that encourages creativity, collaboration and technological literacy. The IoTA is a web-based platform to that aims to help people build projects, share expertise and tackle the biggest challenges of our time.
Vlad Trifa, Co-Founder, Evrythng – Vlad explained how everyday products become smarter when they are connected to the web – allowing users to connect to their belongings in a smart ways as well as brands to build one-to-one relationships with their customers.
Emerging Tech, Creativity & Innovation
Anna Haupt, Founder, Hövding – Anna presented Hövding’s incredible invention – a bicycle helmet cleverly disguised as ordinary clothing. The airbag is worn like a stylish collar or a scarf around the neck. In the case of an accident, it inflates to protect the cyclist.
Cathrine Kramer, Founder, The Centre for Genomic Gastronomy – Cat introduced the Centre for Genomic Gastronomy, where she and colleagues research the biotechnologies and biodiversity of human food systems. The various projects and events run by the Centre for Genomic Gastronomy aim to map food controversies and prototype alternative culinary futures.
Damien Walter, Columnist, The Guardian – Damien’s inspiring talk argued how fostering a culture of creativity is the key to both personal and economic growth. He argued that the creative fulfilment of every human being should therefore be a mission for educators, government officials and business leaders.
Technologies in Resource-Constrained Environments
Ken Banks, Founder, kiwanja.net and Erik Hersman, Co-Founder, Ushahidi – Ken and Erik discussed how technology, combined with the right approach, could bring about positive social change in the developing world.
The Future of Health & Medicine
Aubrey de Grey, Chief Science Officer, SENS Foundation – Aubrey argued that in the next few decades it will be possible to control aging and extend life due to rapid advances in neuroscience and regenerative medicine.
Hagan Bayley, Prof. of Chemical Biology, Oxford University – Hagan discussed the importance of basic research for both scientific and economic progress.
Giuseppe Battaglia, Prof. of Molecular Bionics, Dept of Chemistry, UCL – Giuseppe discussed how interdisciplinary approaches combining basic science and engineering could lead to new solutions for clinical challenges such as the delivery of drugs in the brain, to solid tumour treatment.
Mohammad Hajihosseini, Sr. Lecturer in Developmental Neurobiology, University of East Anglia – Mohammad highlighted how eating disorders are increasingly straining health budgets in countries around the world. He argued that since appetite is regulated by the brain, rewiring the brain might be the most effective solution to tackle eating disorders and to control eating habits.
Digital Health: a New Revolution
Joel Gethin Lewis,Co-Founder, Hellicar & Lewis – Joel showcased the work of Hellicar & Lewis – software that produces visuals based on music and how this has been applied in projects like Hello Cube (Tate Modern 2013).
Big Data & AI Predictions
Stuart Armstrong, James Martin Research Fellow, Future of Humanity Institute – Stuart delivered a truly interesting talk discussing what we can learn from the success and failure of famous AI predictions.
Shamus Husheer, CEO, Cambridge Temperature Concepts – Shamus presented DuoFertility – an innovative solution that helps women battle infertility and start a family without expensive fertility treatments.
Paul Watson, Professor of Computer Science, Newcastle University – Paul discussed how advanced digital technologies and pervasive computing can considerably improve the lives of both young and old people who are victims of social exclusion. He gave an example of how a sensors embedded in utensils can help old people suffering from Dementia execute simple everyday tasks such as cooking.
Daniel Hulme, CEO, Satalia – Daniel explained how Satalia bridges the gap between academia and industry in the field of software development and highlighted some of the implications of Big Data on the future of work and jobs.
The Future of Robotics
Jamie Paik, Director of Reconfigurable Robotics Lab, EPFL – Jamie explained the Robogami (robotics origami) concept and discussed the challenges associated with the building of fully functional Robogamis.
Nick Hawes, Senior Lecturer in Intelligent Robotics, University of Birmingham – Nick explained why we still see robots mostly in highly constrained environments such as factories and discussed the challenges and approaches taken to transfer truly autonomous, intelligent robots from research labs to the real world.
Nick Bostrom, Director, Future of Humanity Institute – Nick discussed the changes in the human condition over the past 100 years and highlighted that that rapid technological progress might lead to either a post-human society or to human extinction, depending on both our use of technology and our values.