In May, the organizers of Web Summit announced they were moving their Collision Conference to Toronto for 2019, 2020 and 2021. Bringing one of North America’s fastest growing tech conferences here further validates the strength of Canada’s technology innovation and expertise. While the event isn’t for another ten months, we wanted to share a flavour of what you can expect to see descending upon Toronto next year.
This week Collision organizers are hosting their Hong Kong event – RISE 2018. With more than 15,000 attendees from 100 countries and markets, many of the world’s most exciting start-ups and largest companies, are in Hong Kong making connections, sharing stories and wooing investors and partners. There are 350 speakers and more than 700 leading journalists and bloggers are on site.
Our Hong Kong team is on sight and has shared these snapshots including an appearance from Sophia who engaged with her Hanson Robotics’ creators, Digital Domain talking about the future of virtual humans in entertainment, and Amazon address the importance of voice….
Sophia and friends invite you to say hello to the future
RISE-favourite Sophia from Hansen Robotics joined her creators David Hanson and Ben Goertzel to show us that robots can be creative. We’ve met Sophia before and seen her debate difficult issues and joke with Ben. She is working on developing self, special and interpersonal intelligence, as well as logical-math and other intelligence. And she can sing, paint and ‘dream’ in her neural net. Hansen Robotics is exploring multiple intelligences with Sophia to work towards general human-level intelligence for robots.
Multiple Oscar-winning production studio Digital Domain is behind such as iconic film characters as Benjamin Button, Disney’s the Beast, and Marvel’s Thanos, and brought Teresa Teng and Tupac Shakur back to perform as virtual human holograms. CEO Daniel Seah explained that instead of making virtual humans in post-production, using data captured on a special stage with a motion capture suit and headset, it can now create CG characters by capturing the live performance of a digital avatar and rendering it in real time. This takes virtual humans from the film world to the real world for the first time.
Temi CEO Yossi Wolf invited us to meet Temi, the world’s first personal robot. The ‘ultimate video-audio-AI machine for consumers,’ it allows us to be in two places at once. You can hop into your personal robot from anywhere in the world, controlling it via an intuitive app on your phone as it moves around so you can see and interact with family, friends and colleagues, and they can see you.
Future mobility and elephants in the road
Emissions-free, autonomous when you want it to be, and capable of flying: that’s the future car that Dieter Zetsche, head of Daimler Mercedes-Benz, wants to see. In reality, autonomous cars, now in trials worldwide, are only about two or three years away from availability. They will rely on AI and machine learning to meet the radically different needs and wants of customers in different countries and even in different cities. For instance, an autonomous car driving in Germany may diagnose a fault and shut down if it ‘sees’ an elephant blocking the road, but the same car in India needs to recognize it as just another obstacle.
Is China now the world leader in technology?
Many speakers addressed the potential for China to surge ahead of Silicon Valley in tech innovation and investment. Discussions on stage and around the venue considered how this could impact US-China relations as the trade war heats up.
- Hans Tung, managing partner at GGV Capital, said he expects more unicorns to come from China than the US in coming years, and that these will also surpass their US counterparts in size. He pointed to the multi-faced rivalry between leading tech conglomerates, like Alibaba and Tencent, as a reason for China’s tech rise.
- ClearVue founding partner Harry Hui also talked about the importance of ‘swarm innovation,’ where fierce competition between local players in China is driving rapid data-inspired tech-enabled innovation. Wayne Xu, president of ZhongAn International, agreed: firms are innovating to make their own operations more effective, building new tech platforms from scratch, but these can then be exported as services.
- Withinlink’s founder Bessie Lee argued that China leads in the application of digital innovation to meet market needs today, especially in mobile, social and e-commerce. Looking ahead, Xunlei CEO Lei Chen explained that China’s government is investing in developing frontier technologies, providing an opportunity for China to dominate in blockchain and artificial intelligence in the future.
- The 2018 China Internet Report, released at RISE, reflected many of these insights. It shows that giants Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba are expanding into every corner of the economy, from retail to fintech, and into rural areas, with a Social+ business model.
Voice is the key for future digital systems
Closing the day with a much-anticipated speech, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels made the case that voice represents the next major disruption in computing. He debunked the myth that smartphones can bring the internet to everyone in developing nations: to overcome illiteracy, changing from machine-centric to human-centric interfaces is vital. Voice-driven Alexa is already changing people’s lives, with special benefits for the blind and those with dementia.