“The biggest challenge to technological advancements is our apprehension” says Jason Silva at PHD Dubai’s BrainScape 2014

The exponential growth of technological developments, the possibilities of artificial intelligence and the transcendence between the real and digital in the future were key topics of discussion at this year’s BrainScape, PHD’s annual conference. The event – which took place on October 20 and was produced in partnership with Choueiri Group’s subsidiary, Digital Media Services – was designed to ‘reboot’ the minds of its 240 participants in order to refresh their perception of the future and open them up to new possibilities.

The speaker line-up consisted of Jason Silva, a renowned techno-philosopher and the Emmy-nominated host of National Geographic’s ‘Brain Games’; Nigel Gwilliam, head of digital and emerging technology at IPA; and Dan Zeff, founder and CEO of content consultancy Evidently.

Jason opened up the day’s discussions, elaborating on how technological advances will lead human beings into the next era of civilization, one where we begin to explore our world on a micro-level – the power of the atom, for example – for the next stage of developments. “We use technology to transcend our limits, to move exponentially and transcend our world,” said Jason. “What happens next when biology becomes the new canvas for our genius, for our artistry? What can we create? The very rules of what it means to be human are up for grabs. The future of us is ours to dream of.”

Nigel followed with his thoughts on the diffusion of technology and how exponential growth forecasts need to be rationalized. He delved into two critical generations – the millennials vs. the ‘oldsters’ (the world’s aging population – a growing demographic), and explained how advertisers must remember both when considering the needs of the future. “Think of two generations – the millennials as an insight into the future, and the ‘oldsters’ because there are a lot of them around,” urged Nigel.

Daniel made the connection between future trends and today with a talk on how despite the emergence of technologies such as artificial intelligence, some human truths will still prevail.  “A single technology will not overturn everything for marketers, but it will change things”, explained Daniel. “The tradition of story-telling has adapted to technology brilliantly.”

In her introduction of the event, Elda Choucair, managing director of PHD UAE, stated that marketers’ current perception of the future is past-tethered, and that we look at what will happen through the lens of what has occurred. She stressed the need for the communications industry to reorient itself and become more forward-looking in order to embrace the next big thing or trend. The event concentrated its presentations and conversations around this theme, with guests gaining insights on how the exponential growth of technologies will impact human behaviors in the future.

“This year’s conference focused on the possibilities of what may come,” said Elda. “It certainly opened up our minds about how we have to adapt in order to be able to react to these rapid developments. The event was a success largely due to the ideas shared in Jason’s explosive keynote presentation, as well as the application of these ideas to the communications industry in Nigel’s and Dan’s presentations. I am left with a greater enthusiasm for the future and can only look forward to next year’s event.”

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