What I learnt from the
Web Summit 2018
by Cheryl Laidlaw
Having not been to the Web Summit before I had no real expectations. The web summit was, after all, in Lisbon—so what could be better?
I attended the Web Summit with friend and entrepreneur, Jo James, who runs AmberLife. We both wanted to learn about the future of the web and tech, and how we can all benefit from this. According to Forbes, Web Summit is ‘The best technology conference on the planet’.
There were 15 stages this year, all with different tech subject, so choosing which stage to attend was very challenging. There was 70,000 people of which 44% were female (yay), over 1,200 speakers and 1,800+ startups this year!
The Web Summit opened with Tim Berners-Lee (just the guy that invented the World Wide Web). He spoke about his new campaign to save the Internet called ForTheWeb. If we don’t all make an effort to control what we code and share online, the future of the Internet will continue to corrupt people’s decisions and learning. I was shocked by this opening speech because it hit home the seriousness of what is happening right now with how much influence our social media platforms and blog articles have on our every day lives. With partners from around the world, they want to build a contract, #ForTheWeb, to ensure a free, open, and fair web for everyone.
“If you’d asked me 10 years ago, I would have said humanity is going to do a good job with this. If we connect all these people together, they are such wonderful people they will get along. I was wrong.” – Tim Berners-Lee
Inventor of the World Wide Web
You can see his opening speech here.
Although Jo and I went to a lot of different talks in the 3 days at the Web Summit, it seemed that the main message throughout was security awareness. The many speakers had discussions about:
• All future coding going through a compliance.
• All news that was shared online to be tested to see if it was true to illuminate fake news.
Other than the really serious talks we went to, we also had the pleasure in meeting Sophia and Han—the robots from Hong Kong made by Hanson Robotics.
They were so cool, but it was also scary to think that we aren’t far away from these robots being a regular sight in our everyday lives. They are still working with both robots to improve their ‘brains’. Sophia actually learns every time anybody speaks to her, which is shared on the Robot cloud for all the other robots to learn. Creepy, huh? To check out Sophia and Han from the Web Summit you can see them on stage here.
There was just one other speaker that really stood out for me and that was Palmer Luckey! He is the founder of Oculus VR and designer of the Oculus Rift—a virtual reality head-mounted display who sold it to Facebook for a whacking 3 billion dollars when he was 17 years old from in his parents’ garage in 2010! He hasn’t retired, though. Palmer is now creating new autonomous technology tools for the US military. He said that if the US and its allies are to win the next war they take part in, more technology companies need to start creating intelligence software. Jaw dropping, I know! This will allow the US army to know where their enemies are at all times, making the US soldiers practically invincible on the battlefield. He went on to explain that Russia and China are also in the race to create this same software first and better.
The Web Summit has really opened my eyes to the realization that anyone can post anything they want online, at any time without any consequences. Yes, we all have freedom of speech, but there needs to be a place for everything if we are going to have a safe world wide web for the future. The Web Summit has also made me realize that the robots are nearly here, and who knows what kind of a world we will live in in 10 years time when everything is automated or voice activated with the use of AI. We need to be responsible now so our future can be safe.