A Reflection of TEDxBerlin 2012 "Future 3.0"

Conference attendee Robert Barrett reflects on his experience at "Future 3.0":

Where better to discuss the shape of things to come than in the midst of a giant tech fair. 

I just attended TEDxBerlin’s ‘Future 3.0’ event held at the ICC conference centre on the first day of the IFA consumer electronics showcase. It was amazing.

Raul Rojas of the Freie Universität unveiled an autonomous car, a working model already capable of driving itself unaided through the streets of Berlin. Laurence Kemball-Cook demonstrated PaveGen, a surface tile that generates electricity from the pressure of people walking over it. And Nina Tandon, a TED Fellow, talked about tissue engineering – not just the idea of using stem cells to build replacement parts, but developing pharmaceuticals to each person’s physiological requirements.

Nina Gaissert of Festo described how they were learning from nature, using biomimetics to make better, more efficient robots and bionic devices. Taking that idea into the cultural spectrum, Hannes Koch of rAndom International presented their latest art installation, where motions of dancers were mirrored through the use of high tech and a cascade of light in an exploration of how even simulacrums of human movement elicit a deep-seeded emotional response.

Gabe Zichermann talked gamification, the idea of using games as learning tools in order to engage and challenge students, getting them beyond the passive to the interactive, understanding more and comprehending better.

Tanga Elektra entertained street busker style with subway soul – minimalist instrumentation turned into a big, rich sound with only a feedback-fed violin, a couple of snares, and a guitar case as a bass drum.

There was even a cool clip that you won’t see in Ridley Scott’s film Prometheus – of Guy Pearce as Peter Weyland giving a TED talk, discussing cybernetics and the emerging role of man as creator.


But, what does this all say about Future 3.0?

If our future started with the Industrial Revolution and continued with the advent of the computer and the internet in the Digital or Information Age, then what we can look forward to may be a true assimilation of all that technology and the web have to offer.

Instead of our lives being moulded to fit each new technological advance, innovation will increasingly be about tailoring itself to our specific needs and desires.

Greater interconnectivity, as outlined by Rene Schuster of Telefónica, may be the key.

Deanna Zandt proposed that the future of work will no longer be linear, our careers following no set path. Our social networks and contacts will provide us with unforeseen opportunities, which from our initial starting point may seem illogical, yet will suit us individually to a tee.  

We will learn to manage our time better, away from being ruled by our devices, as described by Ulrich Reinhardt, to streamlining the demands placed on us with the help of innovation, allowing us to treasure quality of life over availability.

As Conrad Fritzsch said, entertainment will be fit to us, our desired content personalized to our tastes and needs, as simple as switching on the box (or whatever device we choose) – sharing it with friends or family or if we want, not bothering at all.

With each successive generation, the future has always been presented as a means of making things easier. Perhaps, with the next wave, rather than overwhelming us, it really will simplify our lives.

The technological revolution is coming full circle. Having taken us from our homes into the factory and the office tower, we are gradually making our way back. Yet, instead of our endeavours merely having a local effect, their consequences can now be global.

And that entrepreneurial spirit is not just limited to services and software. Even manufacturing, that stalwart of industrialists is making its way into the garage.

Visionaries like Massimo Banzi of the Arduino Project are democratizing innovation, developing generic motherboards, sharing open source industrial design, as well as, advising communities of would-be inventors. Whether it’s the Maker Movement or Fab Labs, the tools are being made available so that anyone with an idea can make their creation a reality.

It really gives some weight to the new catchphrase, ‘If you have a brain, you’re a start-up.’

The future indeed looks bright.


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