The latest from this year’s Building the Future: Ativar Portugal

The latest from this year’s Building the Future: Ativar Portugal

Executives discussed dispelling fears of AI and why real journalism is the antidote to fake news

Elly Yates-Roberts |

“The future is all about technology, but there are limits” and “good old journalism is the vaccine for fake news” are some of the reflections that were heard at Building the Future: Atviar Portugal, the first major technological event held in Portugal this year.

Thousands of visitors attended the event at the Carlos Lopes Pavilion from 29-30 January and spent two days of discussing the future of technology and leadership. 

“The future is all about technology, but there are limits” was one of the most repeated messages. It was first used by Gerd Leonhard, CEO of The Futures Agency, who discussed the concept of ‘technology versus humanity’ at the event, but the idea was underlined by other speakers, namely Tim O'Brien, general director of Artificial Intelligence (AI) at Microsoft. In his speech, the executive said that technology must be regulated because it is necessary to ensure that progress does not compromise the ethical principles of society.

Other key speakers took the stage to reflect about the future, such as Jim Stolze of Singularity University, who sought to dispel fears associated with the application of AI. Meanwhile Rohit Bhargava founder of the Non-Obvious Company showed the audience how to identify hidden trends with simple daily tasks. 

There was also a discussion panel about how to put innovation in the companies’ DNA. It was led by Jorge Portugal from COTEC, Anand Vengurlekar from INSEAD, and Ana Paula Rafael from Dielmar. They reinforced the idea that innovation can be found everywhere, but it has to be nurtured by a culture of observation and participation.

In a panel moderated by Fernando Esteves from Polígrafo, dedicated to the theme of ‘Fake News, Fact Checking and Data Journalism’, which was attended by José Magalhães, deputy of the Portuguese Republic Assembly. Catarina Carvalho from DN, Luísa Meireles from Lusa and Nuno Artur Silva from Produções Fictícias warned the audience about the dangers of misinformation and the importance of the truth to convey the idea that “good old journalism is the vaccine for fake news disease.”

In addition to keynotes and panel discussions, Building the Future: Ativar Portugal hosted hundreds of meetings between start-ups, investors and incubators, as well as technical sessions and experiments. One was showcased in the Intelligent Day Area and gave visitors the opportunity to see how technology touches people daily, for example in smart homes, modern workplaces and more. 

“For two days, Building the Future: Ativar Portugal was the place where technology, digital transformation and leadership intersected to empower people and companies,” said Paula Panarra, general director of Microsoft Portugal. “We were able to combine inspiring session and hands-on sessions in one event. We had more than 100 partners, 135 brand partners and a programme with 60 sessions, which involved about 2,900 people. We are convinced that the event was very enriching for all those who were present and that the initiative helped us take another step towards activating the country."

The event was developed by Microsoft and imatch in partnership with Accenture, Axians, EY, KPMG and dozens of other partners. It also had the institutional support of entities such as COTEC, CIP and STARTUP Portugal, as well as the sponsorship of the Portuguese Republic Presidency.

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