Yet, my own recent experience of many conferences is disappointing. Most presenters continue to focus on traditional debates without paying attention to the challenges and opportunities created by new technology. Participants want to remain in their “comfort zone”, and that means focusing on the conventional issues.
And when I say “traditional debates”, I mean very “traditional”. I attend many business and law related conferences, for instance, and if we built a time machine and travelled back ten or more years, the same issues would be under discussion. Very little would have changed.
There are, of course, exceptions, but generally speaking the issues and arguments are settled, and all we get is a repeat performance. Even when “new technologies” are discussed, old models are used to frame the discussion, understand and explain their implementation and effects.
For sure, this is a pity. It is a lost opportunity, because — even in a digital world — conferences have enormous potential to be a unique “platform” for engaging with the meaning and effects of important new technologies and their applications.
This is particularly true for artificial intelligence.
AI is Much More than “Just a Technology”
AI is more than a “tool” that improves, for instance, manufacturing processes. It is more than the next step in compliance. It is more than a system to make predictions that facilitate action. It is probably even more than a disruptor of “knowledge work”, more generally.