With over 50 speakers, 100 artists and 15 innovation labs Gather, the conference and festival catering for curious minds, makes a welcome return. Five headline topics investigating society and its future are discussed – urban planning and society, humans and machines, democracy and power, media, design and creativity plus money, business and transactions. We asked Gather’s Paulina Modlitba to break down the three-day event in September.
Could you give us your elevator pitch for the festival?
It’s a conference where people of different backgrounds meet up to get inspired and inspire others to try to solve the most important contemporary issues. We twist and turn topics within tech, innovation, democracy, urban planning, economy, media and design. A lovely and quite complex mix. Just like life itself.
You have five themes, but tell us more about what will be talked about.
AI and data is a common thread through it all. We talk a lot about how AI will enable and change the conditions within medicine, smart cities, democracy, art, creativity and a lot more. We will also talk at length about the blockchain as a platform for trust, origin-sourcing and new business models, for example within the music industry. The crisis in, and future of, democracy and journalism is also an apparent theme. We talk about how digital platforms can be used to increase transparency and decrease corruption. When it comes to smart cities we want to twist the perspective and instead talk about smart inhabitants. Smart cities are not supposed to be technological prestige projects, but instead places that place the citizens at centre stage by being sustainable, including and individually-accommodating.
What will the atmosphere be like during the festival?
Great of course. Not like at classic conferences, but more like a mix between a conference and a festival. It means a lot that we have such a diverse mix of people from all across the world. Entrepreneurs, students, artists, CEOs and so on and everyone is there to participate or contribute in some way.
You mention a diverse mix, what crowd exactly do you wish to attract?
It’s the mix we want to attract. We want CEOs, entrepreneurs and politicians to meet up to tackle the possibilities and challenges we raise during the conference. You should go and listen in case you are curious, want to understand the world a little more and widen your horizons. You should also be prepared to contribute in some way. You can of course just listen if you want to, but you are more than welcome to participate in discussions and workshops and so on. That’s where the magic happens.
Which of the speakers are you most proud to present?
God, so hard to say. I’m in love with them all. But if I have to choose three:
Azmat Khan who is a young and prize winning investigative journalist who exposes herself to danger when travelling to places like Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other war zones to monitor the USA’s warfare over there. Investigative journalism is today more important than ever, and that’s why it was an obvious topic to have as part of our speaker program.
Ed Boyden who is already one of the world’s leading scientists within biotech and brain research, even though he’s not yet 40 years of age. His team at MIT Media Lab are challenging our techniques of understanding, controlling and repairing specific functions in our brains. That is super exciting and important for the healthcare of the future. I think Ed will receive the Nobel Prize at some point in the future.
Florence Toffa is an award-winning tech entrepreneur from Ghana. Now he’s involved with the Swedish start-up Klarity, who are producing a digital platform for whistleblowers. Corruption is still a large problem around the world and it will be incredibly exciting to hear Florence tell us about how tech can be used to reduce and counteract corruption.
Gather takes place across several venues, 13-15 September