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Hi, I'm Laura and welcome to my blog. I write about business, philanthropy, corporate social responsibility (CSR), technology, and entrepreneurship. I'm a storyteller and I'm passionate about women designing their lives. Enjoy!

The 5 things I Learned From The Smartest People In The World This Week

The 5 things I Learned From The Smartest People In The World This Week

This week I had the pleasure and the honor to attend the World Summit on Innovation and Entrepreneurship 2017 (#theWSIE), the theme of this years summit, Human x Machine: Business in the Age of Intelligence. The event brought together business leaders from many different industries and hosted 140 speakers and panelists throughout the two day intensive.

It was pleasure because it was so much fun! I’m a closet nerd; my mind was blown by the diversity of academic and business excellence in the room. On the flip side, I was honored and humbled because quite frankly, in those two days I was privy to conversations that I typically wouldn’t have access to. I am however curious, and my curiosity lead me to the summit where I got to dialogue with some of the most intelligent and powerful people in the world about the tools that will shape the future.

In the various sessions, these women and men described technology they are working on that we will be using 20 years from now. Technology that will alter not only the way we live from day to day, but technology that will flip the world as we know it on its head.

Again mind blown, check out what I learned:

1. AI is coming and there is nothing that you can do to stop it

AI is here. For us common folks, that looks like Siri and Alexa. For the tech junkies out there, it’s a deeper dive into tools like the algorithms that keep getting Facebook in trouble (see next bullet point). As I learned during the summit, AI can be loosely be defined as, “the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence.” It is very complex and there are many different layers, but most importantly, it’s here to stay. Will AI take our jobs? According to the thought leaders, yes and no. Some jobs will be replaced, but the hope is that new technology will also create new employment opportunities.

2. AI is sexist and racist

Speaking of AI, the summit also had a healthy dialogue around AI being both sexist and racist. Rosiland Hudnell of the Intel Foundation was the first to answer the question, is AI sexist? “Whether it’s sexists or not, it’s not fully inclusive of the world. If we aren’t careful, there will be pockets of the world that are left out. AI is not fully inclusive.” This debate points back to the ongoing conversation of diversity and inclusion in the tech sector. If all people are not allowed a seat at the table, how can the technology of the future be made for everyone? Black and brown friends, let’s encourage the next generation of our children to enter STEM and STEAM fields.

3. What should you teach your kids?

While technology is reinventing the world we live it, a computer can never replace human interaction. Panelist from different sessions agreed that basic coding and technical skills are absolutely necessary for the future, but parents, don’t overlook the soft skills that can’t be replicated — the things that nurture and build emotional intelligence in children. “We still want someone to talk to,” a panelist told the audience, “When I’m hiring I’m looking for creativity, straightforwardness, and candor.” The consensus among the group was that if you’re not agile and open to learning (young or old) you’re going to be stagnant. Curiosity and continuous learning is the key.

4. The sharing economy presents an opportunity

Robin Chase, co-founder of Zipcar gave a compelling keynote on the future of the sharing economy, ie: Uber, Airbnb, and Zipcar to name a few. Her latest book, Peers Inc, explains her theory on our “profoundly broken democracy” and how the collaborative economy is the future. Peers Inc is currently in my Amazon cart. CEO of Shutterstock, Jon Oringer, also spoke about the sharing economy and how he’s used AI and algorithms specifically to exponentially grow Shutterstock since its launch. His tip for all entrepreneurs looking to disrupt any industry moving forward: take advantage of the sharing economy. “Build a business where others can build a business.”

5. You’ve heard it 1,000 times, but here it is again: purpose

We hear it everywhere from articles online to podcasts, to inspirational quotes, to self-help books. What are we living and working for if we can’t find meaning in what we do? The consensus among some of the brightest minds in business is really that simple, “If you want to do anything disruptive, you must have purpose…making intelligence work for a purpose is important. It’s about the human spirit.”

And there you have it. I hope you learned something too!

 Peek Inside Her Agenda: Iman Oubou (Miss NY & Founder of SWAAY Media)

Peek Inside Her Agenda: Iman Oubou (Miss NY & Founder of SWAAY Media)

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