Spokespeople highlighted both the need for diversity in the technology industry and the power of people in an increasingly digital world at DTX and UCX Europe 2023.
Baroness Martha Lane Fox, founder of Lastminute.com, said that despite the availability of 30,000 female software developers in the technology space, statistics show that the sector will never achieve parity at current rates of growth.
“10 million adults still don’t use tech effectively or at all – and that’s directly related to socio-economic groups,” said Fox, noting that the conversation needs to go beyond focusing on gender diversity.
The line-up on the first day of the event also included Sophie Neary, director at Meta Group; Jenny Radcliffe, author of People Hacker; and Warren Tucker, cloud and digital lead at PwC.
Neary said that that “talent is equally distributed, opportunity is not. [But] we can make the change happen. Successful companies are the ones who are optimistic.” Meanwhile, Tucker pointed out that 40 per cent of business owners didn’t believe their current model would be fit for purpose within a few years and that rapid change across the sector is inevitable.
Several conversations also explored the increased use of artificial intelligence across industries and how the tool acts as an enabler for enhanced productivity.
“I’m yet to see AI replicate what a human social engineer can do – not that AI isn’t as brilliant as it is terrifying,” said Radcliffe. “[But] people are the most unpredictable entity you will ever come across. Feeding off experiential learning from a machine is never going to be as intuitive as a human.”
The second day of the event continued the focus on the power of people with keynote speakers Dara O’Briain, TV presenter and comedian, and Hannah Fry, author and professor in mathematics of cities at University College London, discussing the impact of AI on society and businesses.
Dara O’Briain and Hannah Fry explored the impact of AI on society and businesses
“The human world is random and chaotic – and the algorithmic world is clean and binary,” said Fry. “[So] smashing these two worlds together makes for some interesting stuff.”
The session highlighted how the pace of technology adoption and development depends on how ready people are for change.
“There are amazing ideas that exist, but the world isn’t quite prepared for them,” said Fry. “The first electric car was actually made in the 1890s – but people weren’t ready for it!”
O’Briain used the example of video calling as something humans took time to embrace. “It was available for years but people found it intrusive, initially,” he said. “It took a pandemic to make it popular.”
The pair concluded that certain experiences, such as comedy, will remain intrinsically human and may never be replicated by AI and that it is real people who are still in control of intention.
Furthermore, a panel on ‘managing change to make tech work for everyone’ discussed how businesses need to create a narrative when introducing new technology. The panel also emphasised the value of storytelling in technology, a skill that people can utilise to articulate and promote innovations but which cannot be achieved solely through tools such as generative AI.
“I’m so proud of some of the conversations that took place as part of this year’s show and hope they’ve gone some way to inspiring IT teams and leaders on how to maximise humans in our increasingly digital world,” said Dominie Roberts, content director for DTX and UCX Europe 2023. “We are at a pivotal point in tech right now and I hope that our superb line-up of speakers and panellists addressing these issues head-on with insight and expertise proved valuable to our engaged audience. We look forward to welcoming everyone back next year.”