Business Insider’s flagship IGNITION conference featured some serious heavyweights in the digital world, including leaders of massive companies like Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, and next-generation innovators like NextVR’s Brad Allen.
All the IGNITION speakers and panels provided some excellent, specialised insight on the future of tech.
Here are our favourite pearls of wisdom from this year’s conference.
1. Your phone is probably ruining your health.
Thrive Global CEO Arianna Huffington thinks we need to put our phones to bed — literally. That’s why her new health-focused initiative sells “phone beds” to get you in the habit of putting away your screen before jumping under the covers.
We all know that advances in personal technology have made the world more connected, but they also have a dark side. It’s easier than ever to become dependent on our screens, which can lead to a lot of unhappiness.
It’s Huffington’s new mission to prove that hard work and success don’t require burnout and sacrificing health. In a world that seems to be speeding up every day, it’s an important lesson for many of us to internalize.
2. You shouldn’t be scared of artificial intelligence.
As a society, we’ve watched “The Terminator” a few too many times. Whenever someone brings up the subject of AI, people might imagine things like machines stealing jobs from people (best-case scenario) or all-out robot war (worst-case scenario).
We were glad IBM Watson chief David Kenny was there to provide some calming words on the subject.
“This is a technical change like the industrial revolution,” Kenny said. “It’s a fundamental shift.”
Therefore, it’s natural to have some worries, but AI presents so many positive opportunities, and it’s important not to allow unfounded fears get in the way of progress. Watson itself has already made strides, especially in healthcare.
Kenny believes AI’s ability to eliminate many tedious activities will allow humans to eventually enjoy more leisure time and become more creative. That’s a future we all can definitely get behind.
3. Amazon will continue to thrive.
To start, Mark Mahaney, managing director of RBC Capital Markets, guilted us all for not investing in Amazon stock in the 1990s. (We’d be up 51,000% had we bought the stock in 1997.)
He then shared some exciting ideas about what’s next for the giant tech company. He predicts Amazon will move into AI, voice technology, online ads, entertainment, shipping logistics, and even groceries.
“Big winners pay for experiments,” he told the audience.
Basically, Amazon’s a company to watch. If Mahaney’s right, its reach could expand to so many areas of our daily lives.
As a result, Mahaney said it has potential to become a company with a trillion-dollar market cap.
You read that right. Trillion. Sounds like an exciting road ahead for Amazon.
4. Fake news is going to get more sophisticated.
As we’ve seen from this recent contentious presidential election, fake news is an issue that extends beyond the digital realm and into the political world.
CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter, Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan, and Onion CEO Mike McAvoy teamed up to discuss the topic with Business Insider senior editor Josh Barro.
The discussion was lively, insightful, and a bit pessimistic — these panelists were not about to sugarcoat the problem. They largely believed fake news would become more sophisticated over time.
The biggest takeaway from the talk was that there are limits — and downsides — to the free flow of information on the web. Since attempting to unravel the complex web might lead to additional problems, people must play a part and be more critical of the stories they read.
5. Teens love YouTube and Instagram.
The teens have spoken, and they’re not huge fans of virtual reality. (Not yet anyway.)
To wrap up the conference, the marketing firm Smarty Pants gathered a panel of funny, outspoken, and candid teens. They shared their honest thoughts about the digital world, along with their technological habits.
So what does the younger generation like? YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat for sure. In fact, it sounds as though Snapchat is playing into high-school popularity, with more popular students receiving more points.
What would they like to see in the future? A group-FaceTime feature, for starters. The panel was a great opportunity to get some upfront feedback about what the next generation wants when it comes to the digital world.
So if you missed out this year, make sure to attend our flagship conference next year.
Buy your ticket today to take advantage of our lowest price!