Gaining future insights for the benefit of our clients

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Gaining future insights for the benefit of our clients

It has been dubbed the "elephant in the room" - with the advance of technology, will we continue to exist for much longer? Or are we to be replaced by the machines that we are working so hard to create and advance.

These grand and extensive themes were the subject of this year's TEDxCern event, which took place in Geneva recently and heard from 14 different speakers who considered the future of humanity in an ever-changing world.

The conference was of particular interest to Lombard Odier as part of our on-going focus on the development of technology and how these changes can benefit our clients. Our 'Rethink Everything' philosophy has seen us develop our own bespoke IT solutions in house and events such as TEDxCern give us a valuable insight into where the next steps we need to take are.

Amongst the many themes discussed during the day were:


Halting the spread of fake news

One of the most important and worrying themes of our times, the spread of fake news, was analysed by MIT professor Sinan Aral, who illustrated how false news stories can spread even faster than real ones. This was seen recently when the twitter account of the Associated Press was hacked and a fake post was retweeted 4,000 times in the space of five minutes. Such is the spread of false news that one quarter of all information available during the last Swedish election was fake, he said. The spread of false over real is largely down to the nature of the information itself - it is seem as an inside narrative on what is going on. Aral looked at how truth can be drawn from the false - through regulation, technology being used to limit the spread, and using artificial intelligence to separate the real from the fake.
 

…false news stories can spread even faster than real ones. This was seen recently when the twitter account of the Associated Press was hacked and a fake post was retweeted 4,000 times in the space of five minutes.


Is Blockchain the new internet?

In 1993, there was a scepticism about the internet in how it would work and function. That same scepticism still exists but is now focused on blockchain. Shermin Voshmgir, who has a PhD in IT-Management from the Vienna University of Economics, spoke on the new system and how it operates. As the founder of Blockchain Hub, she is an advocate for blockchain, smart contracts and the decentralised web.

New opportunities with artificial intelligence

Maja Pantic, the research director of the Samsung AI research centre in Cambridge, said the choice of how to use technology - and whether this was for good or otherwise - was a decision that we have to make. An example of this is the use of facial recognition - for those who suffer from depression, it can be used to understand emotion in different situations. But in the opposite case, prices could be altered in shops depending on people's reactions to different products.
 

…the choice of how to use technology - and whether this was for good or otherwise - was a decision that we have to make. An example of this is the use of facial recognition


Bringing testing into the home

The possibilities of bringing medical testing into the home was raised by Janice Chen, a recent PhD graduate in molecular and cell biology from the University of California. Chen is the co-founder and chief research officer at Mammoth Biosciences, a biotechnology company working on a gene-editing tool called CRISPR, which is used for the rapid and affordable detection of disease.


Making stronger food

The growth in world population and the onset of climate change has resulted in concerns around the type of vegetables that we are eating. Sanushka Naidoo, associate professor in the department of biochemistry, genetics and microbiology at the University of Pretoria, told of how new tools will be able to address how plants respond to pests and pathogens for the benefit of future production. In order for us to survive into the future, she said, plants need to be made stronger.

Technology has been lauded as a saviour of society in many ways but it comes with an alarming array of pitfalls. Even today, we cannot truly comprehend how far technology will take us and it likely extends beyond our current imagination.

Innovators, influencers and rethinkers need to come together to guard against these concerns, find ways to sustainably move in this increasingly digitalised world and consider new techniques to regulate and safeguard technology. This is why events such as TEDxCern are important. They lend valuable insights into future developments and investment opportunities across a number of different sectors and fields. And we, at Lombard Odier believe in driving forward a sustainable, better tomorrow where technology augments the human experience.

Important information

This document is issued by Bank Lombard Odier & Co Ltd or an entity of the Group (hereinafter “Lombard Odier”). It is not intended for distribution, publication, or use in any jurisdiction where such distribution, publication, or use would be unlawful, nor is it aimed at any person or entity to whom it would be unlawful to address such a document. This document was not prepared by the Financial Research Department of Lombard Odier.

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