While the IAA premiered in the Bavarian capital Munich, around 200 invited guests gathered at the BMW World, to discuss one of the most pressing topics of our time: sustainability.
Researchers are convinced that the astonishing power of quantum computers and quantum networks will help solve future problems in the fields of medicine and environmental protection, thus changing the world. But not quite yet – the first practical, and usable, quantum computer is still more science fiction than reality.
DLD looks to the future
However, DLD is known for recognising digital trends at an early stage, gathering experts, asking them interdisciplinary questions and helping them network. This is how the topic of quantum computers directed the discussion throughout DLD Munich.
"Building a fully scalable quantum computer is the equivalent of taking a person to the moon and back", said Ian Walmsley, just one of the many quantum computing experts that DLD invited to Munich. In the panel A Quantum (Computing) Leap in European Collaboration, he discussed quantum technologies and international cooperation on this topic.
Stefan Oschmann from Merck also made an appeal to the audience and his panel for international cooperation: "We have to intensify global interdisciplinary cooperation. The gigantic computing power that will be needed in the future will require us to form partnerships across borders." In the panel Disruption & Trust, he spoke to other experts about such opportunities and challenges. The following lecture by economist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus also addressed this topic, but from a completely different perspective.
New goals need new approaches
Muhammad Yunus shook the audience with his speech on the second day of DLD Munich: “We live in a world where 26 people have as much as 50% of the entire world population. What are they doing with it?” he asked the crowd. "The question DLD is asking this year – What are YOU adding? – is not an easy one. The path we have taken has brought us to the edge of the abyss, so we have to find a new way together. Why should you only give a loan to wealthy people – the right to a have loan is a human right”, warned Yunus. Afterwards, Yunus took part in a panel with the founder of Janngo, Fatoumata Ba, Peter Bakenecker from Mastercard and Burda board member Martin Weiss about how entrepreneurial strength can be used to benefit the greatest number of people.
"What are YOU adding, Europe?"
To answer this question, DLD organisers invited Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, who is also responsible for topics concerning space and defence: “Europe missed the first wave of data. My job is not to miss the second wave and to use it as an opportunity for Europe,” Breton said, explaining that Europe could be the world leader in 5G patents. After all, Europe controls more than 50% of 5G patents.
Paradigm shift for the EU
Breton predicted paradigm shift in the EU for data in the post-cloud era: Only 20% of the data will be stored in data centres, while 80% of the data will be stored locally where it is produced. With such a huge amount of data, we will need quantum computers to process this information in the future.
There are no excuses
Jeremy Rifkin of The Foundation on Economic Trends painted a very different picture: "The end of the fossil fuel industry is near", he said, calling for a complete realignment of energy production and distribution. "The technology is here now. We do not need further research and development. There are no excuses."
Digital dark age
Tristan Harris, Director and Co-Founder of the Center for Humane Technology, also brought a thoughtful perspective and spoke of the digital dark age: On platforms like Youtube, for example, conspiracy theories have been disseminated that claim the earth is flat. This is incredibly dangerous in countries like the Philippines – where the population spends around ten hours a day on social media – because Google and Facebook could greatly influence public opinion with the world’s most powerful supercomputers.
"What are you adding for yourself?"
The question "What are you adding?" should not only be addressed to politicians, tech experts and visionary thought leaders; it is also a question that everyone has to ask themselves: "What am I actually doing for myself? What do I do for my physical and mental health?" Here, too, DLD opened up new perspectives and added innovative topics into the mix.
Natural chemotherapy through food
“Food is our medicine”, said researcher William Li. “According to new research, soy or tomatoes can 'starve out' cancer cells and thus fight cancer.” The scientist compared our daily food intake to a regular, natural form of chemotherapy.
Trust in interpersonal relationships
According to psychologist Esther Perel: "When trust is broken, the basic question of 'What is my value?' is broken as well." Perel explores the tension between the need for security and the need for freedom in human relationships. "Relationships focus on interdependence,” she said, “but some of you grew up thinking that asking for help is weak."
"What are you adding, Art?"
Art and new technologies have always inspired each other. Artist Alex Israel and Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel discussed this interesting fact. Together with Israel, Snapchat installed an augmented reality exhibition in a museum in Cannes. Augmented reality is a computer-assisted expansion of the perception of reality. As soon as visitors pointed their smartphones at the works of art, animated three-dimensional images appeared on their screens. “Together with Alex, we are making AR accessible to everyone. We are letting the community define the future of augmented reality”, Spiegel predicted.
Free image material from DLD Day 2 for editorial use can be found here on Flickr.