Will AI destroy or save the world? Is there any hope for humanity? How to humanize business in the age of machines? Those were a few of the questions addressed during this year’s “House of Beautiful Business”, a one-week conference taking place before and after the Websummit, the world’s largest Tech Conference, in Lisbon, Portugal.
I attend conferences quite often but The House of Beautiful Business is something I’ve never experienced before. It was mix of activities, lectures and workshops that you wouldn’t expect to see together. I never thought I would, in the same day, practice mindfulness, talk about Blockchain Technology, watch contemporary dance performances, hear about the development of an AI personal assistant and end up by learning about storytelling and how to feed the world’s growing population. This balance between art and science, in my opinion, is what makes this conference so special. We tend to look at technology and the humanities as separate and incompatible subjects but, when we think about it, we see how one influences the other and how they are parts of the same body, that is humanity. Here I’d like to share with you three experiences that transformed me during this adventure:
Humanity as a Startup
In the opening night of the event we were introduced with the idea that humanity and startups share many characteristics. They have to deal with uncertainty, fast growth and transformation and they both seek for sustainability. We had very interesting talks on these three topics, from which I can highlight the power of the unknown by Aditi Khorana and a lovely reflection by Ethan Imboden, where he discourses about the foundation of the Startup Humanity and the position of humans as supporters of the planet as I quote: “And even in our coming age of smart machines, it will still be people, augmented perhaps, but people nonetheless. It will be people, bringing their curiosity, creativity, experiences, desires, interactions, audacious notions, emotions, serendipity, flaws – their humanity – that will still be at the heart of progress.”
Why Technology can save the world
During the entire week, we were presented with several stories that prove technology will help us save the future of humanity. Two examples that touched me the most are related to education and innovation. The first is by Anne Kjaer Riechert, founder of the ReDI School of Digital Integration, a school that teaches refugees Tech skills so they can entry the Digital Industry and, consequently, be integrated in the society. The second one is Tought for Food , a NGO founded by Christine Gould, that encourages the young generation to use technology and innovation to find ways to feed the world’s population that, by 2050, will pass the mark of 9 billion people.
Building a Beautiful Business
The concept of a beautiful business is dynamic and will be different for each individual. During this workshop facilitated by Ariadna Esteve, we were invited to go deep into ourselves in search of our own values and purpose and what it means to build a beautiful business for us. The thoughts shared in this section were very rich and could be applied not only in the creation of real business but, mainly, in our day-to-day life. As it was said by Angela Lester during the second day of the event, each one of us is one person and there’s no such thing as personal and professional life. We are all in search of our Ikigai, the place where our passion, mission, vocation and profession comes together, our “reason of being”.
If you’re interested, you can learn more about The House of Beautiful Business 2017 complete agenda here.
Andrielle Sousa for Girls in Tech