KARACHI: An extremely enlightening opening session on the last day of the Future Summit had the audience’s undivided attention on Thursday.
First up to speak was Henry Wang, founder of SmartMesh, who gave a presentation on ‘inclusive connectivity’.
He began talking about the 30-year history of the internet, and then said that today when technology seems to be everywhere, 3.9 billion people are not connected, which means half of the world, including areas in China and the US; 1.3 billion people are without power and two billion don’t have a bank account. He argued that data [on the internet] is centralised. This led him to focus on the MeshBox (wireless broadband networks) ecosystem topography, telling the attendees that “satellite is the future”. In five years 20,000 satellites will be launched and in 10 years the whole world will be connected. However, what needs to be checked is the crowding of these low-orbit satellites.
Leonid Kozlov, co-founder of weDAO, was the next speaker. He raised two often-asked questions. How to use technology to bring common sense in our lives? Will robots take over our jobs? He, in a roundabout way, responded to them by zeroing in on the music industry. He said in the 20th century the corporate sector held sway as the record labels engaged with the media [to highlight musicians]. Less than 10,000 artists became popular. Now we have more than 100,000 international artists that the industry can’t support. Change is afoot, though. There is social media which has influencers which lead the way for artists. But the data is a bit complex. He then touched upon DAO (decentralised autonomous organisation) which brings a decentralised approach to the process. “It basically means the right people doing the right thing” for international artists/events.
Nixon Chung founder, of Camloy International Limited’s topic was ‘tourism+’. He said in an era of new technologies, emerging economies outperform developed countries. Out of the top 10 [tourist] destinations, three (China, Japan and Thailand) are from Asia. “Thailand is outstanding.” He pointed out that one of the reasons why tourism is important is because it has become a lifestyle for the people; and one of its roles is that it reduces poverty. Underlining the travel trends he said there has been a rise in access economy and people’s pursuit of a healthy life. He was of the view that Pakistan has great tourism potential but is under-promoted.
Berny Dohrmann, CEO of Space International USA, spoke on the topic of ‘personal innovation’ with reference to his new book Super Change. He said we live in an age of super change where our progress will depend upon how we adapt to it. It [change] is transforming AI [artificial intelligence] to new forms of AI. Four billion devices will be ‘rolled over’ in 24 months which will accelerate e-commerce. “You have to adapt.” Holograms will make us difficult to say ‘it’s not us’”. AI is evolving. Things are speeding up. [But] humans need to calm down. “Humans that compete will perish in conflict … and those that cooperate will prosper.”
Federal Minister for IT and Telecom Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui (who arrived in the venue when the last speaker was giving his speech) was chairman of the session. He said the best way to predict the future is to reinvent it. For doing that the best thing for Pakistan is to initiate a dialogue between key stakeholders, to transform Pakistan into a digital Pakistan, and to transform its economy into a knowledge-based economy.
Darren Vogel, co-founder of ROXI and Gannet Aviation, gave a presentation on ‘future trends’. Sameer Chishti, chairman of Streeton Partners, first spoke about Pakistan’s GDP which was equal to South Korea’s in 1960 but now the latter is far ahead, stressing the need for having skilled youth [in Pakistan], more women in the workforce and the importance of “desi tech”.
Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2019