Web Summit Day Three Snapshot

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It was another beautiful day in Lisbon, and another busy day for the thousands of entrepreneurs, innovators and other tech industry insiders here at Web Summit 2017.


Ride-sharing in the sky

After revolutionising urban transport on the ground, Uber is eyeing the skies. Chief product officer Jeff Holden took to centre stage to detail Uber’s plans and partnerships to make urban aviation a viable means of transport for today’s cities, at prices comparable with UberX. Uber is working with aircraft companies, real estate developers and others to get uberAIR off the ground. But the day’s big announcement was Uber’s partnership with NASA to develop air traffic management systems for flying taxis. Jeff also premiered a technically accurate visualization of the uberAIR experience.


If all goes to plan, and with the support of aviation regulators in the US and Europe, we could be hailing flying taxis as soon as 2023. In the meantime, Uber is working hard on driverless car solutions that bring the cost of using the service below the cost of driving one’s own vehicle. It has just surpassed its one-millionth autonomous driving mile.

Watch the replay: http://bit.ly/2AttIVw


Future gazing  

Many of us are thinking about how tech is changing our society, for better and for worse. Web Summit speakers and panels delved into a range of sectors to consider what’s ahead.

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  • eSports, competitive gaming from casual amateur to global professional levels, is growing worldwide. Traditional sports club are now getting involved as a way to engage with younger fans. In fact, eSports are not a threat to traditional sports, but instead take young people’s attention away from TV. German football club FC Schalke 04 sees synergies with eSports and has big plans for its eSports team. Traditional sports can learn about content sharing from eSports.
  • The digital pornography industry has always been innovative, introducing subscriber models and now VR ahead of other sectors of the media. Industry experts believe that VR is the future for the sector. However, others worry that porn dehumanizes participants and leaves users unable to form real-world relationships, and that this is already profoundly distorting human sexuality. People are becoming disconnected from one another, and abuse is becoming normalized.
  • Accusations of “fake news” have dominated the media landscape over the past year. The term refers to fraudulent content created to go viral for financial or political gains, but is also used to cast doubt on accurate news stories. Surely, big platforms, like Facebook or Google, as aggregators of content, have a responsibility to identify and remove fraudulent content—as traditional media companies do? But the onus will probably increasingly be on content consumers to discern what is real for themselves.

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So how can established brands stay ahead in this uncertain future?

  • Lego has remained relevant for the past 85 years by telling stories and letting users link to its universes and storylines. Lego built its social media competencies from scratch over the past two decades and is now most digital engaging brand and most watched YouTube brand. Lego has identified ‘building together’ and ‘pride of creation’ as its customers’ social needs. It uses social media to improve the company’s bottom line, with diversity and agility both crucial to its success. Watch the replay: http://bit.ly/2zo9tuX
  • Reddit, the content-sharing site that calls itself the “front page of the internet,” is undergoing a huge redesign to make its user interface more visually appealing. CEO Steve Huffman said that while people still need a home online where they go to “be a part of a community and find things that they’re interested in,” many Reddit users will have grown up never seeing a front page.

    Steve’s experience at Reddit leads him to believe that most people will behave with intelligence, humour and generosity when given a chance to do so. And he expects that content algorithms will evolve to show people a wider range of different perspectives and prevent the creation of echo chambers where people are only exposed to opinions they agree with. Watch the replay: http://bit.ly/2jaNqkH


Growth Summit celebrates disrupters

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Growth Summit continued to celebrate some of the most exciting companies disrupting industries around the world. Among the stand-outs on day three were:

  • Dublin’s SilverCloud Health, which offers online support programs to help individuals cope with a range of mental and behavioural health issues
  • Barcelona’s Marfeel, a cloud company that helps publishers optimize and monetize their content for mobile platforms
  • Paris-based Selency, an online marketplace specialising in second-hand, antique and vintage furniture and decor items that brings dealers and individual sellers together with buyers
  • Toronto’s ai, which uses natural language processing and machine learning tools to help make its automated executive assistant as useful as a human one

Web Summit concludes tomorrow with a remarkable line-up of speakers that includes Amazon’s Werner Vogels, Google’s Matt Brittin and Ofo’s Zhang Yanqi, along with Caitlyn Jenner on gender and Al Gore on the climate crisis. We’ll also find out this year’s PITCH competition winner.