Dec 8, 2016


What an ordinary conference can turn into...

Karel J. Golta

Today, German car manufacturers don’t enjoy a truly good reputation anymore. Nor does Google or even top sportsmen. The first are cheating with technology, the later not paying taxes properly. Is this a mega trend or just coincidence?

Two weeks ago, I was invited to speak at a conference about the future (‘Zukunftssymposium’). About technology, creativity and the exploration of a new mobility. The speaker's list was curated accordingly: Google’s Chief Innovation Evangelist, General Manager from Porsche and Mercedes Benz as well as Matthias Horx, the German Trend Guru, among others.

That is going to be exhaustingly funny, I thought, especially when 300 people are sitting in the audience, not at all interested in the typical corporate PPT frenzy. And indeed, the presentations were as expected… But: the moderator triggered questions and conversation that turned the entire event.

Suddenly we were not talking about technology, about drones delivering parcels or brands being electrified. We were talking about human-centricity, about how to use all the knowledge and power at hand to put us, human, in control again. And not just a few of us but most, if not all. There was a big red ribbon of valuable questions being prompted: How can we transform workspace in order to work longer in life, with joy and ease? How can we use digital technology to experience new physicality and analogue interaction? How can we use design thinking to democratize innovation?

And most importantly: how can we, the technology savvy, transform society to reach the lost ones, to bring back the feeling of being human in this computational age.

In the end, this conference on the future of mobility turned almost into a political debate about a social disconnect. Maybe because people are tired of listening to acclaimed pros talking about technology and business. Maybe they are more interested in hearing what we can do for healthy future society. However, I keep wondering, what an ordinary conference can turn into.

Header pic by Alex Holyoake on Unsplash

Karel J. Golta

Managing Director

Karel, CEO and founder of INDEED, is Swiss but far from being neutral. When he's not planning "the next big thing" with clients, you can controversially discuss with him the value of design. And above all, how design preserves humanity in the age of AI and automation.


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