Melissa Geiger explores her takeaways from our key note presentations from Eleanor Winton - founder of Foresightfully, and Dr Pippa Malmgren – founder of H-Robotics and advisor to US presidents and the UK government.
I spent less than an hour in the presence of Dr Pippa Malmgren but days later I am still humming with inspiration.
Her view that digitalisation is delivering a world driven by ‘radical transparency’ is exhilarating. Data and our ability to interrogate it with ever more power and speed will drive everything, from an entirely new financial system and global currency to a cure for cancer. And hers isn’t a vision of the future – this stuff is already happening!
We emit data wherever we go and whatever we do – even the pattern of our footsteps give the smartphones in our pockets insights into who we are. Channelling that to positive effect as tax professionals but also as global citizens is a challenge that is hard not to be excited – and a little daunted – about.
It’s reassuring that even Pippa, a former special assistant on economic policy to Ronald Reagan, doesn’t fully understand blockchain beyond its ability to date stamp information. It was interesting to learn that innovation is coming from unexpected corners – who knew that Nigeria leads the world in coding capability but everyone else is cutting and pasting!
Our former colleague Eleanor Winton, now founder of Foresightfully, was similarly impressive.
She demonstrated how much easier it is to identify the habits, objects and technologies that have had their time than it is to anticipate what will come in their place. But she has faith in collective imagination, predicting a powerful role for tax in leveraging digital solutions to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. The plastic crisis. Global poverty. Climate change. From informing policy to the platforms that can effectively apply it, we have a key part to play.
Finally, far from digitalisation rendering intelligent and imaginative human beings obsolete, both Pippa and Eleanor think we will be more relevant and have more work to do than ever before. Phew…