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Addressing the fear and promises of new technology

On September 10th, the Silicon Valley ecosystem gathered once again for a night filled with knowledge sharing and networking at the second co-hosted event by Ericsson D-Fifteen and WIRED Magazine. This exclusive, sold-out industry event featured Beth Comstock, author of Imagine It Forward : Courage, Creativity and the power of Change and former head of GE Business Innovation, as the speaker. Her conversation with journalist and moderator of the evening, Virginia Heffernan, touched on various topics, such as innovation theater, the importance of culture, and how technology like 5G and IoT will influence our future.

Closing the “Imagination Gap”

In a world that continuously undergo change, with technology and innovation being key components, how does a company keep up? Comstock emphasized on the need for philosophical discussions and for employees to see beyond checklists and the urge of feeling productive. The “imagination gap”, in Comstock’s own words, is the gap between when businesses are putting too much effort in completing tasks today rather than spending time for creative thinking about the future. New technologies will challenge us and organizations in this way, forcing us to reduce this gap.


Change comes with consequences

Comstock and Heffernan further spoke about the impact of this new technology beyond commercially, where we are often blinded by the novelty and “wow factor” of a new technology solution to such an extent that we don’t think about its negative consequences.

Comstock added; “We are in a whole new level of tech innovation, and that should lead to new conversations about the consequences of those changes”.

The fear of new technology

Comstock and Heffernan did not only speak about the downsides of innovation and new technology, but also its positive impact. Comstock discussed the world's fear of technology and said; "In technology, the fear comes because they haven't experienced it." Heffernan further stated, "It is very rare to have a positive conversation about technology, but there are a lot of reasons for optimism." She mentioned how industries like healthcare is using more technology, where it is a complement to the human factor.

The promises of 5G

When speaking to WIRED magazine, Comstock further elaborated on a positive note on the topic of 5G: “5G sparks our imagination. What I think it will allow people to do is collaborate, share information that hopefully connect people in ways that they can innovate faster”. She also emphasized on its potential for environmental sciences, tackling the pressing environmental crisis; “The ability to have faster bandwidth to get the feedback and the data, is going to bring a whole revolution to farming and hopefully get a faster handle on climate change”.


Beth Comstock - Author and former head of GE Business Innovation

Beth Comstock

Author and former head of GE Business Innovation

Until December 2017, Beth Comstock spent nearly three decades at GE. As Chief Marketing Officer and then Vice Chair of Innovation, she led efforts to accelerate new growth, develop digital and clean-energy futures, seed new businesses and enhance brand value. As President of Integrated Media at NBC Universal, Comstock oversaw TV ad revenue and digital media efforts, including the early development of hulu.com.  Prior to this, Comstock held a succession of roles at NBC, CBS and CNN/Turner Broadcasting. Her first book Imagine it Forward was published in September 2018. Comstock am a director at Nike, trustee of The National Geographic Society and former board president of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian National Design Museum. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in biology.

Follow Beth on LinkedIn!

Virginia Heffernan - Author and Columnist at WIRED

Virginia Heffernan

Author and Columnist at WIRED

Virginia Heffernan is a journalist, critic and author, most recently, of MAGIC AND LOSS: The Internet as Art (Simon & Schuster, 2016). She is a contributing editor at WIRED, a cohost of Slate's Trumpcast podcast, and a columnist at the Los Angeles Times.

Heffernan has been called "America's preeminent cultural critic," "a public intellectual for the 21st century," and among the "finest living writers of English prose." Edward Mendelson in The New York Review of Books called MAGIC AND LOSS, "surprisingly moving...an ecstatic narrative of submission." Kevin Kelly, the co-founder of WIRED, writes, "Heffernan is a new species of wizard. It is a joy and a revelation to be under her spell."

Connect with Virginia on LinkedIn!

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