Talking tech in a taxi: TNW2018

‘Technology is no longer an industry, but rather the underlying driver of change and innovation for every business everywhere.’ TNW

Talking about the Solar System for 2 hours over breakfast with experts in finance or accidently having a great GDPR discussion in your taxi with experts from New York and Washington – things that can only happen at TNW!

Last week around 15.000 attendees, including two members of PLASMA, gathered at TNW in Amsterdam. It was the first time for us, and it will definitely not be the last one! Starting with around 500 attendees in 2006, TNW has efficiently brought together an ecosystem of technology agents driving business innovation. Twelve years later, they have expanded into 19 curated tracks, including Future Generations, Creative Commons and Machine Learners.

Identifying how new technologies such as blockchain and AI will directly affect industries in the future, and the new GDPR law were the focus of this year’s presentations. But it didn’t finish there. Most presentations touched, at one point or another, the importance of innovation lead by inspiration from both art and science. So it wasn’t really hard running out of business cards. It was pleasantly surprising to see such an enthusiasm for interdisciplinary collaboration at such a high quality event in Europe.

As part of the Creative Commons track, PLASMA presented one of the topics of the upcoming issue: MARS – SCIENCE and VISION, which outlines how the film industry has inspired the next steps in Aerospace Engineering. With the arrival of the 18th century and the industrial and scientific revolutions, technical specialisation and advances in research and machinery have required professionals to specialise more and more, enlarging the gap between humanities and sciences. As we all know, Jules Verne was one of the greatest literates, using his scientific knowledge to create plausible visions which became realities over hundred years later. During the past decades art seems to have taken on a new function. Not only it has the potential to communicate scientific knowledge but it also has the ability to introduce new topics of research and points of view to contribute to the advancement of contemporary science. As technology has advanced, so has science fiction, painting more and more realistic portraits of what life in space could look like. Science and Sci-Fi are slowly coming together forming a new reality where the craziest dreams have started to become true. Projects such as ‘Flying to Mars’ are actually nothing new… Tsiolkovsky and Goddard already dreamed of going to Mars! Almost 70 years later, Musk might actually do it. But which impact does the life as an interplanetary species have on politics, economy, culture and philosophy? That’s some of the important questions we have to face the next years.

In fact, not only the conference tracks, but also the presentation topics and the speakers were extremely open minded about projects in which technology and art collide. All attendees and TNW team members were ready to discuss the craziest ideas while eating a free raspberry popsicle next to a friendly service robot. However, they built a Buckminster Fuller inspired Dome just for two days and almost every volunteer was a tech nerd. It was a shame that the conference only lasted for two days, as it is impossible to attend all the great presentations, talks and roundtables. Sometimes it felt like going to two great weddings on the same day!

If you enjoy reading PLASMA, you should join us at TNW Amsterdam in 2019. Meeting such inspiring people in a single place with no digital barriers is a life-changing experience!

PLASMA magazine

PLASMA magazine


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