I was delighted to attend the Wired Live 2017 event in London, where Accenture were headline partner.
The great thing about Wired Live is the range and quality of the people who come—both as attendees and as speakers. We had senior people from the world of big business, tech giants, and start-ups. We had entrepreneurs. We had people from research and education too. It’s such a massive array of talent and skills. But they’re all brought together by the fact that they’re thinking about technology and the impact it’s having, and going to have. It’s fascinating to see so many different viewpoints coalescing around an idea of what the future looks like.
The big theme of this year was, of course, artificial intelligence. And I think the whole event—speakers, interactive sessions, and showcases—really got everyone thinking about the world of AI and how we can use it to solve societal problems as well as business problems. This was a theme that came up time and again in the conversations I had with other attendees.
AI was also the thread running through the demos we were showcasing at the event. At the Accenture Interactive Innovation Centre Pod, we had the chance to show attendees breakthroughs like our programmatic advertising technology that can seamlessly insert brands into online video—and even replace any existing labelling. We also demonstrated our brilliant work for the National Theatre in using augmented reality and smart glasses to make a real difference to captioned theatre performances for the audio-impaired.
On a more light-hearted note, we also showcased Swiggy—the virtual bartender who can mix you a drink and make small talk while you wait. It was a fun way to show off what the technology is already capable of, and how it will be impacting every aspect of how we live work and play. And this, of course, is just the start. Everything’s happening so fast.
Throughout the event I got a real sense that people are thinking deeply about the ethical dimensions of AI, and the responsibility we all have when we use AI to design solutions for our clients. There was a definite feeling of moving beyond what the technology can do, to deeper questions about what it should do.
So, the potential consequences, or unintended consequences, of using AI are now very much at the forefront of people’s thinking. And, in particular, how bias can sneak into AI solutions without us ever intending that to happen. That was a really strong message, and it’s something I think everyone will take away from the two days.
All in all, it was a pleasure to be involved in another fantastic Wired Live.