From Crypto-Bros to Death Hacking: Experiences from The Next Web 2018 Conference

Racepoint Global

Written by Edward Armstrong – PR Client Manager, Racepoint Global UK

This is the worst way to start a blog.

Especially one that is being proofed and hosted by your employers who pay you.

I know very little about technology.

I work in technology, read about it every day, and write about it every day…..but I still don’t know much about it.

This realisation hit me halfway through attending The Next Web 2018 conference in Amsterdam after I listened to a talk about the role of death hacking in Silicon Valley.

Death hacking is our attempt to beat death. Ultimately our DNA is code.

This code can be hacked, or have patches downloaded to it. We can re-write the programs that we are running on to live longer, to experience reality differently, to heighten our senses. Our future is one where artists and poets will be recruited to write lines of genomes; an actual living canvas for artistry.

Thankfully I was able to get back into the real world after this talk, away from the potential horrifying dystopia of manic over-grown Harry Potter fans literally being able to write a love of the series into my DNA.

Spending just one day at this event was worth a year of reading articles.  Full credit should be given to the organisers as they have captured both the prevalent trends of today, tomorrow and most likely future planets. Everything from re-creating the experience of a plant in VR to the difficulties in breaking the Chinese market. This was not just a dystopian trip, but one with a firm grasp of the real world challenges that are being faced by everyone from marketers to developers.

One trend that seemed to constantly appear was that of the role of ethics in technology. In a year when technology companies became the new Wall Street traders in the eyes of consumers, with all the trappings of sexism, greed, shoddy regulation and arrogance, the realisation that technology is not a neutral platform is the new guiding principle. Technology must be built to be transparent, as must the companies building it. Technology must be built on morals and principles into its very code. A wonderful talk by the CEO of Headspace looked at the role technology, specifically mobile devices, can play in preventative healthcare by nudging users towards daily meditation and health advice. These are not simply apps designed to rinse you of your data so someone else can become rich, but ones built on compassion.

When you spend so much of your time online, reading about technology that is also outside the immediate physical space, it can be easy to become detached. The beauty of this event was to make you feel as if you were at the heart of the personalities building technology.

The only negative was despite the best efforts of a gang of crypto-bros…….I still don’t understand crypto-currency.