As a citizen that is highly interested in the evolution of my beloved country into a ‘smart nation’, I had the privilege of attending the Future Everything Singapore conference held at the Art Science Museum over the weekend.
The panel of speakers were brilliant and there were a lot of discussion and take-home messages to consider. It was an intellectually stimulating afternoon – the kind of saturday afternoons I love.
Summary of key thoughts :
– Internships are boring and pointless – after a few months of photocopying papers, making coffee, many interns only learn one thing – that they don’t want to work for a particular company. Let’s do externships instead, where students work on projects earmarked by companies, under guidance of mentors. A win-win situation, so people get more out of their ‘internships’ instead of just know that they won’t work. (Ayesha Khanna, The Keys Academy)
– Alex (@iotwatch, Designswarm) is an amazing public speaker. She spoke on the maker movement, and came across as very thoughtful and (equally important) expressed her opinions very well.
– We grow into the stories we tell ourselves. For many people who are creating their own stories, having a growth mindset is an important component. This is where you improve for the future, rather than stagnate
– There were a lot of concerns from the public about trust and permissions, as we move towards a Smart Nation. There are several ways of looking at the government (@aaronmaniam).
We can see it as a control tower, where we give it the power to make decisions because we believe that it knows best, because it has the most access to data. However, this is fundamentally flawed because in this internet age, there is an overwhelming amount of data, many of which is open source, which the government cannot fully handle.
Some see the government as a vending machine, where we put in the coins (pay taxes) and expect that we will get whatever we want from it, even if it is a sugar-filled can of coke that is bad for our long term health. It’s happening elsewhere in the world in several populist governments, but that is not the model we want.
We want to look at the government as a clean slate, which collaborates with the people to write the future.
– A caring, smart nation is what we want to become. Caring is absolutely critical, because the smart nation is going to be pervasive at all levels of society. Unlike other larger countries, where you can ‘run off’ to the suburbs or countryside if you don’t wish to participate, in Singapore there is nowhere to run. You can’t tell people – go live at Pasir Ris if you don’t want to embrace technology. Tong Yee (The Thought Collective) gave a very real and honest perspective, as an outsider in the tech industry.
And several humourous insights to round off the event :
- We Singaporeans are huge risk-takers (yeah right)
- Most people would be fine if their bosses were robots
- “Humans are bugs in the algorithm.” Says Google.
- “Nobody ever listens to me.” says the yellow traffic light