This week, we bring you the first VB Engage to have been recorded live on stage! That's right: At Web Summit in Lisbon earlier this year, we got to interview Alan Schaaf of internet phenomenon Imgur about the evolution of the company, geek culture, community, and what it takes to create a success from seemingly meagre beginnings. In the news segment, Travis quizzes Stewart about his trip to Helsinki (where he spoke at Nexterday North and Slush), and discovers what he learned about the near future, artificial intelligence, mobile marketing, and where technology is taking us next.
As part of Interaction16, in a packed room at Finlandia Hall in Helsinki, Chris Noessel gave a fascinating and compelling talk on the dawn of agentive technology, and the implications for UX designers. The audience provided a mixed response to the opening question, "Who is afraid of Artificial Intelligence (AI)?" Chris elaborated from his experience with students that perhaps the question might be, "Who is afraid of what humans will do with AI?" Chris talked about the emergence of a new category of technology that works on behalf of users to complete tasks. This category, which he is calling agentive technology, can be seen as a particular form of Artificial Intelligence. The Roomba vacuuming robot automatically vacuums your floors, navigating the space, returns to its charging dock when needed and cleans according to a schedule you set. Get Narrative is a wearable camera that automatically captures images by default every 30 seconds.
Chinese tech giant Tencent has urged European companies to focus on ethical applications of artificial intelligence, leaving higher-risk ventures to the US and China. Speaking at a conference in Helsinki, Finland, David Wallerstein, Tencent's chief exploration officer, said he was encouraging the European Union to "embrace AI and deploy it in the areas that would have a maximum benefit for human life, even if that technology isn't competitive to take on an American or Chinese market". "By the time you get better at AI in Europe, the planet will have 8.5 billion people and most of the additional billion will be in the developing world. Energy is an area where there's a huge opportunity on the planet, and it's a huge opportunity for Europe. "I've heard lots of people saying how do we catch up with China and the US in the next 15 years, but we may not have much of a planet left by then," he said.
The'City to City Digital Declaration', signed by the cities' Chief Digital Officers – London's Theo Blackwell and Helsinki's Mikko Rusama – sets out several new areas of collaboration between the two capitals, including: Both cities have recently set out their smart city plans and both have a strong technology community. More than a third of all Europe's tech giants are based in London and contribute over £56 billion to the UK's economy. Helsinki produces almost 50 per cent of the tech sector's turnover in Finland – more than half of the country's IT companies are based in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. The partner cities say they are now keen to share best practices and expertise in order to meet social, environmental and economic challenges. London's Chief Digital Officer, Theo Blackwell, said: "London has made huge advances in the application of data and smart technologies for the benefit of those who live, work or visit here. "We should always embrace the opportunity to share our civic tech innovations, particularly with fellow European cities, as we are demonstrating through the Sharing Cities initiative.
British healthcare workers are hostile to their robotic co-workers, committing "minor acts of sabotage" such as standing in their way, according to a recent study by De Montfort University, which chided the humans for "not playing along with" their automated peers. The researchers contrasted the "problematic" British attitude with that of Norwegian workers, who embraced their silicon colleagues, even giving them friendly nicknames. Some 30 percent of UK jobs will be lost to automation within 15 years if current trends continue apace, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. The percentage is even greater in the US (38 percent) as well as Germany and France (37 percent), but falls to 25 percent in Scandinavian countries like Norway and Finland. Perhaps this explains the difference in workplace interactions between the British and the Norwegians - the latter aren't as worried about losing their jobs to an electronic interloper.