North by northeast – NXNE 2013 – is situated at the intersection of musicians, comedians, artists and tech. And on the second floor of Toronto’s downtown Hyatt Regency, NXNE Interactive (#NXNEi) brought together tech-leaders, social media pioneers and the occasional wind-up robot for a three-day conference that bridged the gap between creators and all things digital.
NXNEi kicked off Wednesday, June 12 with keynote speaker Mike Serbinis, CEO of global-reading company Kobo, speaking about the power of recognizing possibilities.
Serbinis’s final message to delegates was “think bigger,” setting the tone for the talks, panels, and workshops that ranged from discussions over the future of YouTube to glasses that allow a paralyzed artist to draw with his eyes.
Ramona Pringle asks What is the Good Life?
RdigitaLIFE host Ramona Pringle took to the stage on Thursday morning and challenged audiences to think about the unintended consequences of the role that technology plays in our lives. In the middle of a technology-driven conference, Pringle encouraged the audience to think beyond gadgets and see the human side of machines.
“We talk about technologies but we are the end users,” she told NXNEi attendees. Pringle presented different images of what the future could look like, and pointed out that when people consider the future, we tend to see flying cars, robots, and big cities but we rarely picture ourselves in it.
When we envision the future, Pringle says we need to ask ourselves “what is the good life?”
For the panel of humanitarian entrepreneurs moderated by Etsy’s Nada Alic, the “good life” means doing meaningful work. “We need to have a much deeper imagination that sees ourselves as part of a much bigger net,” said founder of Centre of Gravity yoga and meditation community, Michael Stone.
Someone who had no shortage of imagination was Jared Ficklin, who delivered his talk “The Other Singularity” to a packed crowd on the final day of the conference. While most people understand “The Singularity” as the moment machine intelligence surpasses that of human beings, Ficklin wowed the crowd with demonstrations of the connection between humans and computers.
From crowdsourcing playlists to replacing conventional DJs to lights that turn on and off with simple commands, Ficklin demonstrated what could happen when computers and communities can work together.
So what does the high-tech future look like? If NXNE 2013 Interactive is any indication, we’re already there. We’re interested to hear what you think.
By: Ishani Nath (@ishaninath)