23 March 2018

The future analysed at the GREAT Festival of Innovation in Hong Kong

Over 50 thought leaders and decision makers across industry and sector were at day 2 of the GREAT Festival of Innovation to talk about how we will live in the future. The event, running till 24 March in Hong Kong, involves industry leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, educationalists, futurologists to an audience from the UK, Hong Kong, mainland China, Japan, South Korea and wider region.

With predictions that 70% of the world’s projected populations will live in cities by 2050, the festival discussed implications for the way we experience life, eat, travel and coexist with nature through panel discussions and demonstrations. Highlights included:

Source/credit: GREAT Festival of Innovation. Dame Hall kicked off Day 2 with a keynote speech titled Social And Sustainable: The Future Of Impact Investing.
Source/credit: GREAT Festival of Innovation. Dame Hall kicked off Day 2 with a keynote speech titled Social And Sustainable: The Future Of Impact Investing.

Internet pioneer and Regius Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton Dame Wendy Hall urging the audience at her keynote to help realise a socially-ambitious future for technology, driven by a diverse workforce with equal gender representation and the input of professionals across industry sector.

“Artificial intelligence (AI) is too important to be left to the experts,” Dame Hall said.

Source/credit: GREAT Festival of  Innovation. A live fashion showcase  displayed the latest wearable technology.
Source/credit: GREAT Festival of
. A live fashion showcase
displayed the latest wearable technology.
The festival also hosted the unveiling of previously-unseen footage of Dragonfly, a concept by UK transportation designer PriestmanGoode. A 90-second trailer revealed the full extent of the much-talked-of initiative which, combining old and new technology, uses existing waterways and autonomous drones to deliver goods to customers.

The reveal was made by the company’s Chairman, Paul Priestman, during a discussion with Hong Kong’s Professor Frederick Ma Si-Hang, Chairman of MTR Corporation and Alex Cruz, Chairman & CEO of British Airways. Acknowledging the importance of protecting our environment for future generations, the three speakers agreed that a critical issue facing transport in the future is the elimination of congestion in cities, from airport to road.

Priestman said, “We’ve imagined cities in the future being adapted to accommodate drone technology leading to a big step change in city development and does not require the use of the already congested road network. Buildings, for example, could be designed to enable access from different levels, not just by the front door. The banks of rivers, where all cities first emerged, are used again as major transport corridors supporting the delivery of the drone network.”

Delegates also saw the results of a pioneering partnership between McLaren Automotive and UK startup Vector Suite, with a live demonstration of how designers are using virtual reality (VR) to develop its new cars.

Mark Roberts, Head of Design Operations at McLaren Automotive said, “McLaren is the first automotive company to utilise VR from the very beginning of the design process to fast track the way in which we design new models. We’re able to speed up the process and maximise the creativity with greater accuracy and, in turn, help our business ultimately build beautiful cars that meet our customers’ expectations."

Source/credit: GREAT Festival of Innovation. Kerridge (left) watches as Gong presents XAIRCRAFT during a panel on the Future of Food and Farming.
Source/credit: GREAT Festival of Innovation. Kerridge (left) watches as Gong presents XAIRCRAFT during a panel on the Future of Food and Farming.

Drones were also a theme for a chat between Richard Deverell, Director, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, British culinary maestros Tom Kerridge and Tom Aikens and Justin Gong, Co-Founder of XAIRCRAFT Company on the future of food. Gong shared that XAIRCRAFT used AI to create drones that can tell whether plants on farms have been treated with pesticides, so these can be skipped during pest management activities.

Asked about the future of food production, Deverell commented on improving the diversity of plants used as food to cope with the twin pressures of growing population and unpredictable climate change. He said, "We need champions who are going to experiment and help opinion formers and the public understand the incredible things that can be done with food diversity.”

The event is part of the GREAT Britain campaign, which showcases the best of what the nation has to offer to inspire the world and encourage people to visit, do business, invest and study in the UK.


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