Reflect-ing on the Future: Going to Tech Festivals
Technology Festivals and Digital Conference are trending nowadays, have you wondered why there is an increasing interest in attending them?
In recent years, I’ve seen countless tech conferences pop-up around the world, every single one of them looking more interesting than the other. A tech festival isn’t something I am usually interested in but when the opportunity presented itself, I thought that Iconic Man should investigate what goes down at these conferences. So, I attended the Reflect Festival in Cyprus.
Reflect promised a blend of CEOs, entrepreneurs, managers, professionals, future enthusiasts, students and it definitely delivered. People from all professional backgrounds and relative fields were present and keener than usually to interact with us non-tech savvy mortals. I can’t stress enough how clueless I am in terms of technology or AI.
Set in a large ex carob mill factory, the vibe was definitely industrial. Vintage machines are permanent exhibits of the venue which contrasted with the uber modern gadgets that were exhibited for the festival. Walking in I saw a purple mayhem with several stations most of them focused on VR. At first glance it was daunting, but the room wasn’t exceptionally large so one could navigate easily.
At this point I should mention that the main reason I attended was to see Sophia the Robot. Sophia (for those of you living under a rock in the past year) is the first android citizen and the most advanced human-like robot in the world, created by Hanson Robotics. I thought if she is Jimmy Fallon worthy, she must be something exceptional. Luckily, I got to see her 3 times and observe this unique creation up and close. Don’t worry another article it’s on is way dedicated solely to her.
What I expected:
Being tech clueless I expected something extraordinary like self-driven cars and google glasses for everyone. I imagined that quirky gadgets would be on display and I would get the chance to play with them (although I shouldn’t, as I am super clumsy). I pictured the talks with loads of 6-D effects and the actual products present.
The only thing I knew about this technology festival is that it focused primarily on two subjects: AI and Sustainability which are both interesting and trending. Let’s not forget this tech festival focused on the future and these subjects will be on everyone’s agenda by 2030 (according to some speakers).
What actually happened:
There were some impressive new gadgets on display that as a participant you could interact with. For instance, the AI chess bedazzled me. I suck at playing chess and this little marvel can help you win any match. One of the participants is actually playing and the other observes the chess making all the correct moves to win the game. It was something Harry Potter-like, the pawns were moving on their own and I suppose is a great way to practice your chess skills if you’re playing against an AI robotized machine.
I also loved the selfie robot. This genuinely smart gadget is here to replace photo booths and to be totally honest with you as a retro fan I was at first, saddened by this. But then, I saw the super cool photo it took of me with all the nice filters that made me look prettier. It didn’t hurt that it complimented you on the screen and moved around to get the best angle.
There were a lot of amazing screens (for all you TV fans out there) from the OLED LG TV which is attachable via magnetic strips to Prestigio’s interactive Multiboard. As I already mentioned there was a lot of VR action going on with students showing short documentaries on VR to an amazing VR creation that helps the participant experience and hopefully understand autism a little better.
Way too many speakers to talk about all of them. The talks that I particularly enjoyed were by Iman Oubou, Jamie Bolding, Pablo M. Vidarte, Eva Nedelkova and Chris Duffey. They touched on more interesting subjects for me and made their talks more accessible to the non-AI savvy. Their presentations were laced with visual aids to make them more comprehensible and they showed a lot of confidence.
What I really hated was the fact that we had to post our questions through slido.com and only the questions with the most likes would get asked. So, if you are there with a group of friends, they can like your questions and Boom they get asked, if you’re flying solo sorry my friend no chance of scoring an answer. Also, as there were two rooms with talks at the same time, it was difficult to select which one you should be in and a lot of people were moving constantly from one room to another and back again.
Is it really worth it?
I think this sort of technology festival structure makes it more accessible to all audiences despite their knowledge. If you are a tech-freak or interested in motivating speeches by prominent CEO’s it’s totally worth attending such a tech festival. If you are in it just out of curiosity you will still have a good time but probably won’t understand everything that is being discussed.
Tech Festivals are expected to become bigger and with more exhibits happening in all parts of the world. Technology is a huge part of our everyday life and the need to have the latest information will continue growing.
I personally enjoyed my experience, albeit tiring and I would be interested to attend more technology or digital conferences. Science is making huge leaps with AI and some of the more complex questions asked at the festival touched upon whether humanity is really ready for it. Like it or not, AI is a reality of our near future and it is very useful to learn how to handle the technology and also how to positively implement it in our lives.
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