Inspirefest 2018: Sci-tech, Arts and Diversity

Daniel Coxon


2018 is delivering great conferences and events which Graphic Mint are naturally attending. The most recent one was Inspirefest 2018 held in Dublin. Thousands of people attended the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre over the two days to listen to dozens of talks. Speakers shared their insights on technology, science, Design and the arts. We found two of these talks very inspiring – Tim Leberecht and Karen Contet Farzam.

Inspirefest 2018 Logo

Tim Leberecht – Business Romantics

Tim Lebrecht is the co-founder and CEO of The Business Romantic Society. He began his talk at Inspirefest 2018 on the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and if it will replace people in the workplace. From this he set out 3 rules to keep your company human in this digital age:

  1. Do the unnecessary
  2. Create intimacy
  3. Suffer (a little)

“When you cut the unnecessary you cut everything.” Tim cited the example of two companies who were merging. 10,000 orange balloons were ordered for the launch, the colour chosen for the new combined company. However the balloons were then seen as an unnecessary expense and the order was cancelled. The two organisations never succeeded in becoming one. This wasn’t a direct result of cutting the balloons, he explained, but the ‘kill the orange balloons’ mentality permeated everything else and marked the beginning of the end.

In a world where we have never been more connected, how is it that sociologists are talking of social isolation and an age of loneliness? Tim quoted Richard Bach who says, “the opposite of loneliness is not togetherness, it’s intimacy”. Hence intimacy is needed in this digital age. We are craving to be treated as unique individuals and not as targets of algorithms. “We don’t want personalised experiences, we want personal experiences.”

In order to experience intimacy we need to be vulnerable. This is actually counter intuitive to the way most workplace and customer experiences are designed. Most of them are designed for instant gratification, convenience and ease of use. But the human brain still craves invigorating and energising experiences that make us come alive. People still need to feel emotions like frustration and confusion to feel human. If these emotions are taken away then it takes away a piece of our humanity.

Tim Leberecht Inspirefest 2018

Karen Contet Farzam – The Future of Money

Karen Contet Farzam is the co-founder She spoke on the evolving cashless society in China. A term that she mentioned regularly throughout her talk was ‘fintech’, which is “anywhere where technology is used in financial services”. China is currently the world leader when it comes to Business to Consumer (B2C) in fintech. Furthermore, it is also the world’s largest ecommerce and retail market with over 500m users with a fintech adoption rate of 70%. In comparison, the US and Ireland have only a 30% adoption rate. This means that “China is the largest innovation hub in the world”. According to Karen, fintech in China is 2 years ahead the rest of the world. They have gone straight from cash to digital payments, skipping the implementation of credit card systems altogether.

Not only do we have fintech but techfin companies. Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu are leveraging technology to penetrate the financial industry. Tencent is mainly known for its social app ‘WeChat’ which has over 1 billion users worldwide. An average user of WeChat spends about 4 hours a day on it, compared to an average Facebook user which is around 20 minutes. Alibaba leverages its ecommerce platform to penetrate the finance industry. They entered the digital payments world with their app Alipay which has over 500 million users. Finally, Baidu is one of the largest AI and internet companies in the world. With a user base predominantly in China, it is the second largest internet search engine in the world, yet is widely unknown here in Ireland.

Karen Contet Farzam Inspirefest 2018

Inspirefest 2018

These are just two of the talks we found very interesting over the two days at Inspirefest 2018. There were many other fascinating talks taking place. For example, Bharat Krish, CEO at RefineAI, discussed biases and stereotypes in the world of Artificial Intelligence. While Gerry Ellis, Accessibility and Usability Consultant at Feel The Benefit, talked about the everyday accessibility of technology to those with disabilities. Finally John Cormican, General Manager at Jaguar Land Rover, told us about the plans to make Ireland the central hub for autonomous vehicles in the near future. Already plans are underway for Inspirefest 2019 and we hope to be there again next year.

Until then we will be working hard on our own Design projects taking inspiration from all around us. Contact us today and we could go on an inspiring Design journey together!