GEMMA JONES GOES BACK TO SCHOOL
AT WIRED 2015
Last month Gemma Jones headed to East London to witness the Wired 2015 annual conference as part of our ‘Back to School Program’, an initiative aimed at nurturing and fostering the intrigued spirits and knowledge thirsty Space Doctors by sending them out into the world to embark on courses or attend events. We spoke to Gemma to see what she learned from what was an event packed with inspirational ideas and speakers.
I was lucky enough to attend the Wired 2015 conference at Tobacco Dock in London last month. It was an incredibly rich, inspiring and humbling experience and summarising all that I took away here is impossible. We heard from people revolutionising the education system in Brazil, saw MRI scans of beat boxers, ate cakes made of crickets, tested the future of affordable VR and had the first glimpse of shoes.com groundbreaking AI platform for predicting preference and intent while shopping. Here are three of the most personally profound points that have stayed with me:
1. The significance of physicality, matter and ‘stuff’ when we think about technological advances of the future. From Scio’s ‘In-pocket’ device allowing consumers to scan and analyse the molecular make up of every product, object or material they encounter, to Organovo’s bio-printing organs to address the donor shortage to, The SENSEable City Lab tracking the progress of our trash so we can monitor the ‘removal chain’ – the mirror of the supply chain. Digital technology is no longer to be conceived of as ephemeral or simply in ‘the cloud’. Where it has real impact is in its collaboration with the material, elemental world.
2. The role of participation in making change. We are not a unilateral race and making ‘good’ decisions as an individual consumer won’t make the difference. What is needed is shared vision and collaboration, both public and private. From helping map the surface of Mars on PlanetFour.org, to MIT’s City Farm ‘coding’ the most effective growing conditions for fruit and vegetables to make us all expert farmers, to allowing our facial expressions to be mapped by Affectiva to create the largest database of human emotion measurement. In an era of privacy and security concern – choosing when to consciously and positively share data becomes a new ethical behaviour.
3. Sensory experiences are not mere indulgence – they are part of our sustainable and humanfuture. Whether it’s Noma’s test kitchen using fermentation to make something better and more fulfilling than meat, sending Eyal Gever’s 3D renderings of human laughter into space with NASA to inject poetic humanity into our scientific narratives, or Daniele Quercia mapping the sensory components that make our cities happyplaces rather than purely smart systems. If we’re going to reform our cities, our food systems or our creativity, we need to think multi-sensory. Many of the sessions illustrated positive connections with Space Doctors’ work in Sensory branding and it was clear that leaders in various disciplines worked to the same principle: to make an impact you need to communicate with all of the senses in mind.
Overall there was a real sense that role of the technology of the future is to create self-sustaining systems that increase the opportunities we have to be more creative, healthy, happy and human on a thriving planet.