Portugal hosted the Web Summit for the second year since the conference moved from Dublin, Ireland. The event met all expectations with over 60,000 attendees from 160+ countries, more than 1,000 speakers, CEOs, celebrities, and activists. The intersection of many different technological sectors made for an interesting 3 days of networking, speeches, panels and a *little* bit of beer. So here I wanted to document some of my experiences, the people I met, and the places I saw.
Web Summit Brings Together Tech Minds From Across the World
The world is going to continue to see a massive digital revolution in the next 5 years, the Web Summit brought the “who’s who” all into one place. It was an amazing feeling and the conversations were always top notch. Everyone at the top of their game with insights from all different backgrounds and experiences. As I flew through London and on to Lisbon, Portugal I really had no idea what to expect. But as I checked into my what would be my accommodations for a week and a half, the reality started to set in. Lisbon was a beautiful city and the Web Summit was just around the corner.
The event was held at Altice/MEO arena on the Northern coast of Lisbon. With 5 separate pavilions near the arena and huge outdoor areas, the event space was massive. There were over 25 stages of varying sizes for speakers, panels, and Startups to pitch. Some of the stages included TalkRobot, PlanetTech, SaaS Monster, Growth Summit and the Main Stage shown here:
On the first day of the summit, we had a surprise welcome from one of the smartest minds in the world, Stephen Hawking! His message was one of hope but also a warning, view the video here:
AI Tech will need to include “a form of electronic personhood to ensure the rights and responsibilities for the most capable and advanced AI.”
-Stephen Hawking, on the rules of robotics (5:00 mark)
Summit Startups & the Pavilions
Away from the main stage, there were large areas of space where the startup booths were located. In the Pavilions, startups stood by their booths to pitch and network all day. Each day of the conference had new startups in place for the Beta and Alpha areas of the pavilions. Every day new startups joined in to connect with attendees, investors, and speakers.
Larger companies also showcased including IBM, Google, Microsoft and many others.
Speakers Forum Lounge
Speaking of speakers…where did they all hang out before they went on stage? Right near the Media Village where I was volunteering! It allowed me to go down and network with some of the most sought-after people at the event. I met some fantastic people and was able to see the Prime Minister of Portugal up close and personal.
Communication & Networking at the Summit
Networking at the conference was a bit different, the traditional method applied but many including myself utilized the Web Summit app.
A fantastic tool that allowed you to chat with anyone who was there, you could connect based on common interests or search for anyone you wanted. Also the ability to create a custom schedule for the stages, so much going on you need to prioritize!
Paddy Cosgrave the Founder of Web Summit organized a fantastic event which concluded with an inspirational speech from Al Gore. There are way too many things to cover about Web Summit in this post, so I decided to cover the top three things I learned and include a video link from the event for you to get inspired and learn more about the topic. What did I learn?
Three Things I Learned at Web Summit
Sustainability is important for the Earth
The Web Summit offered a unique view into the environmental and sustainable topics. I learned there a ton of advanced and innovative companies that have a sustainable competitive edge. For example, take a look at a Web Summit company Gogoro. Short-term electric scooter rentals with replaceable battery system!
Artificial Intelligence (AI) could create or destroy
If technology is growing exponentially then AI tech is exploding exponentially. Something to keep an eye on, what kind of AI tech are we humans developing? Think unlimited potential where computers can “think”, collaborate, and calculate an infinite number solutions, scenarios and possibilities all at once. Seem scary?
In the hands of certain people, it could turn bad, but I have faith that smart AI developers will only work for the betterment of humankind. We will still need to be vigilant to make sure we ethically develop our technologies. With artificial intelligence, we can build almost any possibility, let’s make sure we create the world we want to live in tomorrow (watch the video from Stephen Hawking for a very interesting viewpoint).