Technical conferences for adults – POLITICO

With the help of Derek Robertson

A message from Ryan Heath, the eyes and ears of POLITICO at world conferences:

TORONTO – Tech conferences used to be giant fan clubs for technology itself. with customers grabbing the latest cool gadgets and fawning over the Tech God Founders (always male) like groupies.

And good, some of them are still.

But now that the industry is heavily reliant on political headwinds, and regulators and citizens are well aware that the industry’s habit of writing its own rules can cause quite a bit of trouble down the road, you can now find tech meetings willing to address these. more serious problems. -on the.

The most interesting conferences are now aimed at a wider range of people, from startups looking for their first capital to regulators and NGOs focused on holding these tech gods to account.

35,000 geeks gathered in Toronto this week for collision conference, the North American brainchild of an even larger web summit that takes place in Lisbon every November.

This is part of a new generation of tech conferences that stretch from mass events such as RightsCon to code by invitation onlyKara Swisher.

So what’s different: There are real arguments at these events from new CEOs attacking the previous generation. (Bill Gates has been criticized here for his recent cryptoskepticism) to a detailed debate about what kind of regulation or organization is needed to hold Big Tech accountable.

There are also many more women. According to the organizers of the Collision, 39 percent of the panelists are women, and 350 of the 1,557 startups featured were founded by women.

The gathered geeks also want to think beyond programming: Speakers include writer Margaret Attwood on abortion rights and Alicia Garza, co-founder of the global network Black Lives Matter.

What is not different: Tricks. Would you like to join today’s Ax Throwing Happy Hour (What Can Go Wrong)? Have you tried “nanoseptic technology” in an elevator (enjoy self-cleaning elevator buttons at your own risk)?

If that’s too much: get a drag queen robot for Pride.

What crowd? Decidedly blended – and hardly a hoodie in sight. The audience is more global due to the fact that some new technological niches, such as climate technology, have roots far beyond Silicon Valley.

Wandering the halls, you’ll meet anyone from Canadian provincial founding women to British regulators and West Coast academics, as well as investors and government relations teams, as well as marketing specialists of large technology companies.

I ran into Daniel Vishevich, European investor and former political adviser who says he never would have thought of being at a tech conference 10 years ago.

He knew a lot about social platforms as a key member of the team that shaped the global image of former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but after deciding in 2018 that his true mission in life would be to fight the climate crisis, he says his goal is to collide (and not only). is to help “restructure venture capital to save humanity.” He is a co-founder World Foundationthe purpose of which is to finance new technologies for climate conservation.

In this world, it is no longer enough to know how to quickly scale a company. A wider range of talent is needed, says Wisevic: “If you’re investing in climate technology and solutions that solve real problems, you need physicists, mathematicians, chemical engineers, mechanical engineers, biologists.” He also notices something close to equality: “There are a lot more female founders in this sector where you solve real problems, and it’s not just about money.”

What does the tech industry need to know? While Congress is deadlocked on tech regulation and the EU executive continues to reverse its landmark tech enforcement decision in court, that’s no reason for the corner office to be complacent. Understandably, an entire generation of geeks will learn that there are ways to rule the world that don’t fit into the traditional confines of Silicon Valley.

Yesterday code repository GitHub announced that Copilot, an artificial intelligence tool for writing code, is now open for use by developers after a one-year development period.

In recent months, there has been a wave of speculation and publicity surrounding tools like the GPT-3 text generator or the DALL-E image generator, which use AI to extract huge amounts of existing data and create something like “new” content. What are the implications of teaching such models the code that underpins our underlying digital infrastructure?

I called Sanmay Das, a professor of computer science at George Mason University, and asked him about the potential benefits and risks of such a tool, which he described as “pretty smart” in using GitHub’s huge code repositories to train his model. He also warned of the potential security risks associated with such an easily reproducible encoding: “It’s a matter of scale,” Das said. Suppose you have an AI trained in a certain way and 10,000 people need a certain piece of code, but there is a security vulnerability in that code. All of a sudden you have 10,000 different pieces of software deployed that have this flaw.”

Some critics are also concerned about the implications of one company — Microsoft, which acquired GitHub in 2018 — having access to and control over such a tool it developed with OpenAI: your preferences and using them to extrapolate from other people’s preferences and decide which ads to show you,” Das said. “There are questions about privacy, there are questions about who owns the data; there are legitimate concerns on that front.” Derek Robertson

When Will Wright was development of the original SimCity, potential publishers were skeptical that anyone would want to play the game without a clear “win” condition.

This skepticism was clearly misplaced, as SimCity has become a hugely profitable franchise in its own right and has spawned many imitators and successors, including Townscaper, which brings a new twist to the genre thanks to the power of AI.

Briefly about how the game works: Players build a city from very simple, non-customizable blocks. As they add and remove said blocks, the procedural generation game engine weaves them together in a way that looks surprisingly organic and aesthetically pleasing. it like, sort of, something like like SimCity, but you’re not in complete control as the game builds your vision with its own “mind”.

Game designer Oskar Stalberg spoke for a long time recently with Game Developer’s website describing the game’s origins and technology behind it, inspired by his desire to create massive virtual landscapes that weren’t just the same patterns and textures repeating ad infinitum as in previous generations video games. Cityscape, which Stalberg describes on Twitter as more of a “toy” than a game, is just one of many projects that use AI create memorable virtual worlds. – Derek Robertson

Stay in touch with the entire team: Ben Schrekinger ([email protected]); Derek Robertson[email protected]); Konstantin Kakaes (ur.[email protected]); and Heidi Vogt ([email protected]). Follow us on Twitter @DigitalFuture.

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