Tech Foresight 2039

Needs and motivation

Tech Foresight 2039 was held on 27 June 2019 and we explored technology’s impact on the physical, emotional and safety needs of human experience. Attendees were able to explore what might be next on the technology horizon to help future-proof their businesses and organisation.

We asked questions such as how could privacy-protecting algorithms create security in an uncertain world? How could we re-frame tech to support emotional well-being? How might our physical bodies be used to control the digital world?

Attendees discussed the next 20 years of technology through a programme of showcases, interactive discussions and specialist industry workshops with world-leading academics, industry experts, startups and beyond, and gained insights into future needs of your customers, employees and the general public.

We are becoming more reliant on autonomous technologies and systems to manage our daily lives, but we often overlook the potential for catastrophic failures. These systems guide us through our day, keep us connected, and provide for many of our basic needs. Reliance raises important questions: How can we ensure that these systems are trustworthy and safe? How will humans be involved in the design, manufacture and management of future systems? How can we make these systems robust? Dr David Boyle investigates cyber-physical systems and processes, and how to design tomorrow’s systems to operate safely and reliably. He is particularly interested in how new technologies merge with our critical infrastructures. In his talk, David explains the inherent challenges and explore many of the invisible innovations needed before they can become trustworthy.

Digital technologies have made our lives easier and freed us from mundane tasks but we still don’t know the repercussions of their extended use. Often labelled as addictive and negatively impacting mental health, is the only solution therefore a complete ban of digital technologies? In her talk, Nejra van Zalk explores how we might design technologies to suit humans better, sharing examples of where technology has had an impact on mental health in both negative and positive ways.

We spend a third of our lives asleep. We need to sleep, but we don’t understand why. Internally generated circadian rhythms are essential in keeping our sleep patterns “on track”, thus helping us to be healthy. However, over the years, we have adapted to practices that negatively impact our circadian rhythms, such as low levels of daylight during office hours and smartphones in the middle of the night, impacting cognitive performances, metabolic function and inflammation in the body. What future practices might address these misregulations? Dr Marco Brancaccio and his group are exploring the molecular pathways characterizing circadian function in the brain and how we can artificially harness them to address neurodegenerative diseases and health. What might be the future of sleep? Might we in the future be able to re-create the benefits of sleep, without sleeping?