What I learned at the 2017 DLD Conference in Munich

January 27, 2017

Hey there, Vasco here. A few months ago, I was invited to be a speaker at DLD17 in Munich, from the 15th to the 17th of January, 2017. It was my first time both at a Digital Life Design conference and in Munich and it completely exceeded my expectations.

I was hugely inspired by the combined talent and intellect of the hundreds of scientists, technologists, entrepreneurs, politicians and artists assembled by the organisers, all in an attempt to answer the question, “Whats the plan?” for the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Apart from being pleasantly surprised that two “random” people I spoke to turned out to be Amazon’s CTO and the designer of Fitbit (#humblebrag!), a few of the talks really stood out for giving me either a new perspective on a topic I thought I knew everything about, or completely blowing me away with something I’d never even wondered about before, like Julian Savulescu’s talk about how gene modification could lead to changes in human morals.

Or the radical new syringe designs that will change how we deliver injections and vaccines as discussed by Wolfgang Buttress, Tim Landgraf and Marc Koska at the Bee-Inspired panel.

But what really fascinated me was the Fixing Education For The AI Age panel, with Tabitha Goldstaub from Project Placed, Dr. Rose Luckin from the UCL Knowledge Lab, Jürgen Schmidhuber from IDSIA, Esther Wojcicki from the Center for the Collaborative Classroom and Conrad Wolfram from Wolfram Research Europe.

I have 4 daughters and education has long been one of my passions. I’m tremendously frustrated with where educational learning is right now — somewhere in the 19th Century. Some of the solutions presented by the panel, from teaching mathematics assuming that computers exist (as revolutionary as introducing the mobile phone to horror movies), to Esther’s work on peer-to-peer learning in a collaborative classroom environment, were beacons of hope for me. I hope my youngest daughter will get to see some of this in her classrooms!

Finally, my own panel, The End of Apps: Why Bots Are The New Human/Machine Interface, where I had the honor of talking with Alexander Del Toro Barba from VisualVest, Adelyn Zhou from TOPBOTS, David Hanson from Hanson Robotics and Greg Williams from WIRED UK, who moderated the panel.

In a world where three quarters of mobile users don’t download a new app every month, it’s clear that chatbots — programs you can have a conversation with (not always intelligently!) — are going to play an important role in rolling out new experiences and content. My view is that they certainly don’t need to solve the “hard problems” of artificial intelligence to provide value, but I’ll let you watch the video to see that the conversation did get somewhat heated at times!

DLD truly exceeded my expectations. If you get a chance to speak or attend, I would highly recommend you take it!

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About the Author

Profile Photo of Vasco Pedro
Vasco Pedro

Vasco Pedro is a co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Unbabel. He founded Unbabel and its new category creation, LangOps, in 2013, alongside João Graça, Sofia Pessanha, Bruno Silva, Hugo Silva during a surfing trip in Arrifana, Portugal. Under this leadership, Unbabel has since expanded globally with offices in San Francisco, California, and additional US hubs in New York and Pittsburgh, and a subsidiary office in Portugal. Leading brands like Pinterest, Skyscanner, Under Armour, Trello, and Oculus use Unbabel to make their customers happier and their support operations vastly more efficient. Vasco developed his love of both languages and technology during his time at Carnegie Mellon University, where he earned both his Master’s and doctorate in Language Technologies. Vasco then worked at both Siemens and Google, where he helped develop technologies to further understand data computation and language.