I’m still buzzing with excitement and energy from attending my first Future in Review (FiRe) conference in October. I’ve been to my fair share of tech conferences, but rarely have I experienced such a dense concentration of brilliant and inspiring people from such a diverse set of fields (from cyber security to graphene, from China experts to environmental activists, and more) in such a relaxed and inviting atmosphere (we were all holed up in the Stein Erikson lodge in Deer Valley for the week, so nobody just gave their talk and took off). I see now why The Economist has called it “The best technology conference in the world.”
Another thing that makes FiRe special is how many of the participants are also speakers. True to form, conference organizer Mark Anderson threw me in the deep end with not one but three speaking slots: a 5-minute “view of the future” lightning talk, a 15-minute 1:1 interview with the BBC’s Ed Butler on “Machines Learning About People: What’s Next?”, and co-hosting a breakout session on AI and Robotics with Scout co-founder Brett Horvath. Unbeknownst to me, the first two sessions were recorded, and Mark has allowed me to share the MP3s of those talks here:
- “Hot Spots: Five Views of the Future” (first 5 minutes are me talking about how ubiquitous sharing and context-aware gadgets will soon make us much smarter about the places we visit and people we meet)
- “Machines Learning About People: What’s Next?” (Ed and I discuss why machine learning is increasingly used for personalization, why it’s both necessary and exciting, what the technical and privacy challenges are, and so on; featuring a surprise Q&A with Cory Doctorow at the end).
You can probably tell from my speed of talking in the first one that I was a bit nervous/excited to be speaking in front of such an august crowd. By the second talk (on the following day), I had calmed down a little (but this is still me we’re talking about). l hope they’ll invite me back next year, but either way, I’m even more optimistic for the future having seen firsthand how many super smart and driven people are out there tackling the full spectrum of challenges facing us!