Ethics to Ecotech: 5 Unmissable Talks at Data Natives 2018

The pace of life and industry is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. Interconnected tech, inconceivably fast data processing capabilities and sophisticated methods of using this data all mean that we’re living in fast-forward. The Data Natives Conference 2018 explored life at an accelerated pace, and what rapid innovation means for cutting-edge tech (blockchain, big data analytics, AI) across industries.

From governments to genomic projects, the quickening of life, work and research impacts every industry- and Data Natives 2018 offered two intense days of workshops, panels and talks to explore this impact. With more than 100 speakers presenting over 48 hours, the breadth of expertise at DN18 was vast. We have selected six talks that perfectly encapsulate last year’s topic and focus.

Image: Supper und Supper

1. A 21ST CENTURY PARADOX: COULD TECH BE THE ANSWER TO CLIMATE CHANGE?

Climate change is one of the greatest concerns of our lifetime- and many are wondering if technology holds the answer to decelerating the impending climate disaster. Dr. Patrick Vetter of Supper und Supper presented one use case which demonstrated the tangible benefits of ecotech: “Wind Turbine Segmentation in Satellite Images Using Deep Learning”. In layman’s terms, Dr. Vetter shared the details of his project to optimise wind turbine placement using deep learning and analysis on “wind energy potential”. Exploring the potential of rapidly accelerating data technologies to curb the rapid acceleration of climate change, Dr. Vetter’s talk is definitely one to watch.

2. CUTTING THROUGH PROPAGANDA: GOVERNMENT POLICY PRIORITIES IN PRACTICE

Any citizen of a democracy knows that there’s usually a huge gulf between the promises made in government officials’ election manifestos and what actually becomes policy. Cutting through the propaganda, is it possible to find a quantitative measure of the government’s priorities (and how they shift) over time? American Enterprise Institute Research Fellow Weifeng Zhong has been working on just such a measure: the Policy Change Index (PCI). Running machine learning algorithms on the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China, Zhong has found a way to infer significant shifts in policy direction. The PCI currently spans the past 60+ years of Chinese history- through the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and the economic reform program- and can now also make short-term predictions about China’s future policy directions. Zhong allowed us to glimpse under the hood of the PCI at Data Natives 2018, as well as shared some of the more remarkable findings with us.

3. BLOCKCHAIN: BEYOND A BUZZWORD

Over our four editions of Data Natives, we’ve seen blockchain emerge from a promising but niche sphere into a full-blown game-changing technology. However, blockchain and decentralised computing are still shrouded in hype, and have a long way to go to garner full consumer trust. That’s where Elke Kunde, Solution Architect, Blockchain Technical Focalpoint DACH at IBM Deutschland, comes in. Her talk on “Blockchain in Practice” at Data Natives 2018 aimed to demystify blockchain, slash through the hype, and enlighten the audience about how IBM clients are already using decentralised computing in their tech projects.

4. USING MACHINE LEARNING TO PREDICT (AND HOPEFULLY PREVENT) CRIME

Predictive policing has been a hot topic for many years- and the technical methods behind it have become more sophisticated than ever before. Du Phan, a Data Scientist at Dataiku, walked DN18 attendees through one particularly sophisticated model, which uses a variety of techniques including PostGIS, spatial mapping, time-series analyses, dimensionality reduction, and machine learning. As well as discussing how to visualise and model the multi-dimensional dataset, Phan also discussed the ethical principles behind predictive policing- and what we can do to prevent crime rather than predict it.

Image: jeniferlynmorone.com

5. PUTTING A PRICE ON PERSONAL DATA

Data privacy and the price of personal data have been hot topics for years, coming to a boil with events such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Even Angela Merkel has declared that putting a price on personal data is “essential to ensure a fair world”- but how do we put a price on data, and how can this be enforced? Jennifer Lyn Morone- the artist who registered herself as a corporation and sold dossiers of her personal data in an art gallery- discussed her perspective on these issues in a closing keynote for Data Natives which brought the ethics of data science into focus.

Join us for the next edition of Data Natives Conference on November 25-26, 2019 in Berlin! We will welcome over 1600 attendees and more than 100 speakers from across the globe to dissect the tech that’s shaping the way we live today — and how we’ll live tomorrow. Get your Early Bird ticket discount now!

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