With the help of Derek Robertson
A message from Ryan Heath, POLITICO’s eyes and ears on the global conference circuit:
TORONTO – Tech conferences used to be huge fan clubs for the technology itself, with customers scraping the latest cool gadgets and groping like groupies over Tech God Founders (always men).
and ok some of them still are.
But with the industry now very much in the political crosswinds — and regulators and citizens aware that the industry’s habit of writing its own rules can cause some pretty big problems downstream — you can now find tech meet-ups willing to address these tackle bigger problems -an.
The most interesting conferences now cater to a wider range of people, from startups looking for their first capital to regulators and NGOs focused on holding these tech gods to account.
35,000 geeks gather in Toronto this week collision conference, the North American descendant of the even larger Web Summit, held in Lisbon every November.
It’s part of a new generation of tech conferences, spawned by mass activist events such as RightsCon to the Code by invitation onlyby Kara Swisher.
So what is different: There is real confrontation at these events, with new CEOs attacking the previous generation (Bill Gates came under fire here for him recent crypto skepticism) to detailed debates about what kind of regulation or organization is needed to hold Big Tech accountable.
There are also many more women. According to the organizers of Collision, 39 percent of the panelists are women and 350 of the 1,557 start-ups represented were founded by women.
The assembled geeks also want to think about more than coding: speakers include author Margaret Attwood on abortion rights and Alicia Garza, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network.
What is not different: gimmicks. Want to join the ax throwing happy hour tonight (what could go wrong)? Have you tried the “nanoseptic technology” in the elevator (enjoy the self-cleaning elevator buttons at your own risk)?
If all this is too much for you: Take a robot drag queen with you for Pride.
How is the audience? Extremely mixed – and hardly a hoodie in sight. Audiences are more global as some newer tech niches like climate tech have roots well beyond Silicon Valley.
As you stroll through the halls, you’ll meet everyone from female founders from Canada’s provinces to UK regulators and academics from the west coast Investors and government affairs teams, as well as marketers at large technology companies.
I’ve… crossed paths Daniel Visevic, a European investor and former political adviser who says he could never have imagined being at a tech conference 10 years ago.
As a key member of the team that shaped former German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s global image, he knew a lot about social platforms – but after deciding in 2018 that his true life’s work would be tackling the climate crisis, he says his goal is Collision (and beyond). to help “restructure venture capital to save humanity”. He is co-founder of world fundwhich aims to finance new climate-friendly technologies.
In this world, knowing how to quickly scale a business is no longer enough. A broader range of talent is needed, Viševic said: “If you invest in climate technology and in solutions that solve real problems, you need physicists, mathematicians, chemical engineers, mechanical engineers and biologists.” He also sees something in the direction of equality: “There is a lot more female founders in this industry where you solve real problems and it’s not just about the money.”
What does the tech industry need to know? While Congress is at a standoff on technical regulation and the EU executive keeps overturning its important decision on technical enforcement in court, that’s no reason for corner office complacency. It’s clear that a generation of geeks is learning that there are ways of running the world that don’t fit into traditional Silicon Valley pigeonholes.
Yesterday the code repository GitHub has announced that Copilot, an AI tool for writing code, is now open to developers after a year of development.
In recent months there has been a wave of speculation and publicity surrounding tools such as the text generator GPT-3 or the image generator DALL-E, which use AI to draw on huge amounts of existing data and produce something like “new” content. What is the impact of training such models on code underlying our fundamental digital infrastructure?
I called Sanmay Das, a computer science professor at George Mason University, and asked him about the potential benefits and risks of such a tool, which he called “pretty smart” because it used GitHub’s vast code repositories to train his model . He also warned of the potential security risks of making code so easily reproducible: “It’s a matter of scale,” Das said. “Suppose you have an AI trained a certain way and 10,000 people need a certain code snippet, but that code has a security hole. Suddenly you have 10,000 different pieces of deployed software that contain this error.
Some critics have also worried about the ramifications of having a company — Microsoft, which bought GitHub in 2018 — have access to and control over such a tool that it built with OpenAI extrapolate from other people’s preferences and decide which ads to show you,” Das said. “There are questions about privacy, there are questions about who owns the data; There are legitimate concerns on that front.” – Derek Robertson
When Will Wright was Development of the original “SimCity”, Potential publishers were skeptical that anyone would want to play a game without a clear “win” condition.
This skepticism was obviously misplaced, as SimCity itself became a hugely lucrative franchise, spawning countless imitators and followers – including Townscaper, which uses the power of AI to give the genre a new twist.
In short how the game works: Players build a city out of very simple, non-customizable blocks. As you add and remove these blocks, the game’s procedural generation engine weaves them together in a way that’s surprisingly organic and aesthetically pleasing. It is somehow like SimCity, but you don’t have full control as the game expands your vision with its own “mind”.
The designer of the game Oskar Stalberg spoke at length recently with website Game Developer, in which he detailed the making of the game and the technology behind it – which was inspired by his desire to create huge virtual landscapes that aren’t simply the same patterns and textures that repeat endlessly, like in previous generations of video games. “Townscaper,” which Stalberg calls a “toy” rather than a game on Twitter, is just one of many projects out there use AI to create unforgettable virtual worlds. – Derek Robertson
Keep in touch with the whole team: Ben Schreckinger ([email protected]); Derek Robertson ([email protected]); Konstantin Kakaes ([email protected]); and Heidi Vogt ([email protected]). Follow us on Twitter @DigitalFuture.
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