Technologies that will change the world

Monday, September 02, 2013

18:00 - 20:30

Voltaire argued that the world contains an amount of suffering too great to justify optimism.

It was unfortunate for Voltaire that he was never able to meet Andy Stanford Clark. Andy is a self-confessed geek and "Master Inventor" at IBM, and following his inspiring speech at Green Corporate Energy '13 we were delighted that he returned as our host for September.

Andy invited three leading minds to explain the technologies that he believes will change the world. We heard why;

- Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino sees the Internet of Things having implications for the design of everyday products. From monitoring your home, your health & your loved ones abroad, the IoT is also allowing businesses to find a new level of efficiency.

- Christopher Barnatt believes that, in a decade's time, around 20 percent of manufacturing will involve 3D printing, opening the door for increased customisation, material savings and localisation. Christopher has recently published "3D Printing:The Next Industrial Revolution", while his 3D printing videos and web pages have received over two million views.

- Lisa Felton explained the implications of 788 million mobile-only internet users globally in 2015. Described as "the single most transformative technology for development" by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, mobile internet has the potential to transform healthcare, education and agriculture, especially through partnerships with NGOs, government and different business sectors.

All of our experts explored how large organisations can incorporate these technologies into their strategies. These are highly disruptive technologies that have the power to build a better world, and to take render individual businesses obsolete. They are both inspiring and dangerous.

Speakers

Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino Good Night Lamp

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Andy Stanford-Clark IBM

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Christopher Barnatt ExplainingThe Future.com

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Lisa Felton Vodafone

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Round Tables

Carbon Strategies

Using data to reduce carbon. What are the new ways of using data that are driving drive carbon reduction in corporate strategies? We expect this table to cover carbon management systems, inter-company benchmarking, asset benchmarking and more.Using data to reduce carbon. What are the new ways of using data that are driving drive carbon reduction in corporate strategies? We expect this table to cover carbon management systems, inter-company benchmarking, asset benchmarking and more.

Communications

Communicating technology. Many of the technology solutions to a better world are often demonised in the press – GM, nuclear, the Internet of Things etc. How can companies who are pursuing these solutions win hearts and minds?Communicating technology. Many of the technology solutions to a better world are often demonised in the press – GM, nuclear, the Internet of Things etc. How can companies who are pursuing these solutions win hearts and minds?

Corporate Strategies

Mobile internet - a force for good? As the number of connected individuals increase from 1 to 3bn within the decade, mainly in developing economies, where will the benefits lie? Health care, education, agriculture etc. Which types of companies should be engaging, and how?Mobile internet - a force for good? As the number of connected individuals increase from 1 to 3bn within the decade, mainly in developing economies, where will the benefits lie? Health care, education, agriculture etc. Which types of companies should be engaging, and how?

Resource Efficiency

The technologies for a circular economy. With an increasing number of companies adopting the circular economy principles, this table will explore the technologies and materials that enhance the ability to reuse and which have a broad application from many companies.The technologies for a circular economy. With an increasing number of companies adopting the circular economy principles, this table will explore the technologies and materials that enhance the ability to reuse and which have a broad application from many companies.

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Opener: which technology is most applicable to reuse?
Obstacles
- To date fabrics/cloth cannot be 3D printed
- Mechanical properties cannot always be produced by 3D printing (e.g. rotary blades)
- While recovery and reuse of many materials is possible, this sometimes requires use of chemicals and produces hazardous waste
- Reusing materials usually downgrades them, e.g. recycled paper
Obstacles OR opportunities:
- Brand plays a huge role e.g. Apple vs Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola have run a successful recycling campaign, but Apple products are much more complex, the narrative around them is different
- There is currently no value assigned to the impact of a material, therefore we consider it cheap/costless (cf. carbon credits)
- The quality of recycling facilities is limiting what we can repurpose materials for – this could be an opportunity to innovate for better facilities
Opportunities
- Reverse 3D printing to recover the materials used?
- Rethinking the design spec: could design with fewer materials be the way forward?
- 3D printing represents huge opportunities for material efficiencies – in aircraft, 7 tonnes of raw material are required for 1 tonne of end product – 3D printing means you need the minimum input.
o BUT this also needs better end-of-life management (stories of aircraft being scrapped after 10 years because the parts are more valuable than the machine). The design brief needs to think beyond the user to the end of the life cycle
- New business models are necessary – white goods manufactures are providing laundry/refrigerating service etc, not just selling products
- Could the internet of things provide efficiency and recycling options, e.g. your usage suggests this model might be better for you, or you could downsize to this washing machine; you haven’t used your breadmaker for a while – you could sell it on eBay for £x today, etc
- eBay could also use data from products to display the history of a product
- IoT could enable a 21st Century rag-and-bone trade, giving in older models to be repurposed, using crowdsourcing to identify a market, etc
- Technology is a greater opportunity for the circular economy (rather than materials); you can build what you imagine
- 3D printing manufacturing techniques represent a huge potential energy saving, e.g. smelting waste metals
Red flags
- do we want to be able to print anything we want?! Can we trust the consumer to use this technology well?
- There is disagreement about whether local manufacture is most efficient (carbon emissions, energy sources, etc) – there are pros and cons to distributed manufacturing
- We know that consumerism will grow in the developing world
Examples
- Apple: look and feel is far more important than recovery or repurposing – will they ever design products with the end-of-life in mind if that compromises look and feel?
- Petrochemical plant design was revolutionarised when health and safety became the primary concern – it is possible to design for the same purpose with different criteria (e.g. health and safety; recoverability of materials) – but what is the driver?
- Coca-Cola’s plastic recycling campaign – this was driven by the rising cost of recycled PET, and Coke realised they needed to find another source of this input

Plenary roundtable - 1

The digest. This table will continue the panel conversation and explore how these technologies can be adopted by different sectors of the economy, and will seek to identify at least three examples of how organisations can use these technologies at scale

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Issues of data ownership and copyright seen as being barrier
- Existing data protection rules not likely to be capable of policing eg supermarkets selling life insurance with detailed knowledge of buying habits through 'loyalty' cards
- Public need to appreciate what data/info they are contributing (possibly unwittingly)
- Benefits vs cost (privacy) need to be clear

Rich data source already overwhelming some industries
- How can/should data noise be filtered?
- Major supermarket apparently have dedicated top educated data analysts to derive knowledge from loyalty card data/weather/season/news etc etc resulting in very low percentage waste
- others (such as buildlng services/FM) appear to have been throttled by lack of vision/focus on first cost of implementation

The 'tech' is showing tremendous growth rates
- Novel financing required
- is already changing publishing models and requires new concepts
- enables faster feedback of readers interests
- develops targeted 'published' material based on location/activity/environment provided by sensors in portable devices
- 'half world unbanked' - great potential for growth (and responsibility for actions)

Impact of 3D printing will develop far beyond the current thinking
- As the tech matures unlikely that we all will have a 3d printer
- Potential huge market in maintenance/FM

Business drivers will dominate (short term?) and could eclipse ethical concerns
- emerging markets - eg being sold loans - could be exploited without end user understanding consequences
- software and specifically security is key
- potential disenfranchised sector of population
- opportunities for retrospective litigation for providing services without due disclosure
- could be socially divisive (and already may well be)
Dilemma of 'Facebook' generation
- social disengagement through exclusion
- opportunity to decrease loneliness
- improved security through observation

When the satellite goes down do we end up with information/ knowledge famine?

Plenary roundtable - 2

Is technology a force for good? Steve Jobs argued that computers would save the world, but the founder of The North Face, Doug Tompkins, is arguing that technology is destroying the health of the planet on which all species depend. What do you think?Is technology a force for good? Steve Jobs argued that computers would save the world, but the founder of The North Face, Doug Tompkins, is arguing that technology is destroying the health of the planet on which all species depend. What do you think?

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Doug Tompkins argues that technology is:
1. Concentrating more power into the hands of the elite
2. Making us dumber
3. Creating a techno-industrial society that is destroying the planet.

However the group thought that, on balance, technology is a positive influence.

Overall Summary
• The direction of technology relies on human motives and values. As long as people have the right values and motives technology will ultimately be a good thing.
• Technology is bringing power to the people not the elite. For example the Arab Spring.
• A Virgin Media survey of 2000 people across Great Britain found that the majority of people thought technology brought more positives than negatives to the world
• We have more knowledge and awareness as a result of technology, which brings increasing responsibility. Social and behavioural change is required.
• Hardware impacts. There are finite resources available for technological equipment. This requires proper management in order that technology may be sustainable.
• Technology is depleting carbon activities. People are now able to hold a videoconference rather than fly across the world, although sometimes flying may be necessary.
• Technology like Skype is bringing people together regardless of geographical differences. However there is also a danger that technology is dividing families. For example, a family at the beach that spent their time on mobiles and ipods rather than enjoying the beach, raising concerns about values and morals, particularly in the next generation.

Red Flags
• Technology is irreversible. We have no option but to make it good.
• The morals of people who control the development of technology are fewer due to the domination of a minority.
• Value subset of the next generation.

Plenary roundtable - 3

Collaborative consumption – a threat or opportunity for big business? M&S has launched “schwopping” and Avis bought car sharing company ZipCar and B&Q have Streetclub. But if peer-to-peer markets disintermediate institutions, it this really their space? Discuss

Ecosystems & Natural Capital

How should companies assess the benefits of new technologies using natural capital evaluation? From resources to in-use to disposal, how can companies avoid perverse environmental and social outcomes?How should companies assess the benefits of new technologies using natural capital evaluation? From resources to in-use to disposal, how can companies avoid perverse environmental and social outcomes?

Plenary roundtable - 4

The Internet of Things: Life beyond the connected fridge – does the IOT have the potential to create meaningful change?The Internet of Things: Life beyond the connected fridge – does the IOT have the potential to create meaningful change?

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Key topics of interest to the table:
• Where 3D print is going and its applications
• How it relates to sustainability
• The importance of potential impact to investors
• The role of technology in shaping the future
• What meaningful change do we want?
• Towards an IoT Academy

Opening comments from Chair:
• Digital technologies can help create change by:
o providing the right information to the right people at the right time.
o enable people to self-organise in problem-solving communities.
• The internet of things provides a new set of tools to help businesses and communities do both of these things and create solutions.
• The problems we face demand technology to be applied to actual needs, not to gimmicks (such as the connected fork!). Self-organising communities are doing this: eg. Air pollutions sensors such as the Air Quality Egg; Japanese radiation data collection

Key points from the discussions:

This is not new technology but perhaps some new applications and layers added. The internet of things already exists. Unilever is collecting data on hygiene habits through soaps. Another company used connected toothbrushes and apps to challenge children to brush for longer.

Service providers and data collectors must collaborate over data use. Data must be shared for solutions to reach scale, and this raises questions of trust in technology and maturity of processing systems. A third party could help to build trust, offering non-commercial ‘safe spaces’ for data sharing.

How can the data be used to meet consumers’ needs? Sometimes a company’s aim is to give consumers ‘what they don’t want’, ie. To change their behaviour. But it’s also important to work with communities to co-create solutions – early prototypes of this behaviour e.g. Air Quality Egg

Other uses for data:
- to benchmark behaviour, and to influence it through ‘gamification’ (although some object to this term)
- to link environments and infrastructure in smart ways: this needs to be factored into planning at an early stage
- to create communities through intelligent infrastructure, eg Crossrail
- to enable traceability in supply chains
Importance for investors of making business sense of solutions: what are the likely returns of efficiency gains? How can data be used to create incentives for action, helping us to move beyond the landlord/tenant conundrum, where the benefits are not enjoyed by the investor?

The full potential won’t be known until further down the line, but the smart infrastructure can already be in place. What’s needed is a strong interface between data collection, tech solution creators and end users.

Wrapping up:
The technology is the easy bit. What’s difficult is how people think and whether they talk.

Energy Strategy

Massive renewable energy programmes:  insane or genius? IKEA, Apple, and Google are investing billions in renewable energy, with IKEA planning to be off-grid by 2020. This table discusses whether these companies are mavericks or a glimpse into the corporate future.Massive renewable energy programmes:  insane or genius? IKEA, Apple, and Google are investing billions in renewable energy, with IKEA planning to be off-grid by 2020. This table discusses whether these companies are mavericks or a glimpse into the corporate future.

Venue Detail

Bank of America Merrill Lynch: The Auditorium

The Auditorium | 2 King Edward Street | London | EC1A 1HQ

Please note that The Auditorium is located in the main Bank of America Merrill Lynch building. Please enter through the revolving doors into the main reception area just off Newgate Street.