Inside of START Summit Day 1.

Joining a technology conference is always interesting. Joining a two-day conference with 600+ founders, 1000+ students, 250+ corporates and 200+ investors is inspirational on many levels. Even if I would have joined a couple of talks, the mindset of these entrepreneurs is amazing. They are the ones who try and try until all the pieces of the puzzle fit into place. They are the crazy ones. The trouble makers. They are the ones who question today to change tomorrow.

Keynote: Opening Ceremony (Main stage)

After the mandatory cool tech video, Deborah Grace Dörig (president of START Global) and Sophie Bree (Managing director START Summit) welcomed the visitors and gave a short introduction of the focus of the conference and introduced other programs like START Hack, START Incubator. I have to mention that the two ladies were more prepared with their presentation than some of the presenters from industry leaders.
Professor Thomas Bieger, Dean of the University of St. Gallen thanked the 300 volunteers. He mentioned the importance of creating programs, connecting students with companies and emphasized the responsibility that relates to the entrepreneurs who have a chance to shape the future. The University of St. Gallen is an award-winning business university providing a vision of leadership, economic, business and social matters implemented in a responsible way. The school aims to provide personal growth as well as providing a holistic education. The professor mentioned the importance of providing more than just a school, the University functions more like a hub connecting industry members, and students all over the world. A message for young entrepreneurs: like, understand and convince people.
Thomas Scheitlin, mayor of St. Gallen gave the next speech. He is opening the Start summit for the fourth year. Mr. Scheitlin mentioned the importance of fiber optics in the city of St. Gallen providing high-performance connectivity and the startup hub located in St. Gallen. As a smart city, they would like to be the leader in this area, they nominated a Chief Digital Officer for St. Gallen: Christian Geiger in 2017. They have the plan to develop a chatbot which would be able to answer questions about the organization and other topics. The Digital Sports Hub Switzerland which was founded in St. Gallen combines knowledge, technology, business ideas, investors, management resources and politics around digital sports topics. With a lot of strategic partners, this is a pioneering hub where startups, technology, and marketing come together to develop current sports to the next level and create new ones.

Fireside chat: Higher, Faster, Further: Driving Change through Technology

Igor Perisic Chief – Data Officer LinkedIn
Tanja Wittman-Sutter – Presenter & Journalist
This discussion gave insights on the current and future place of LinkedIn which platform is based on mathematical and statistical algorithms. The architecture separates a few key areas like profiles, search and knowledge graph engine. LinkedIn uses machine learning to optimize their products i.e. search results, updates, recommendations. They use a near real-time content processing framework. As other large providers LinkedIn continually improves their user interface and underlying the updates there are hundreds of user tests running at any given time. I had a chance to develop similar user tests for hotels.com a few years ago. The importance here is to make sure that we have confidence in the data. Running a test with hundreds of users is meaningless, running it with millions of users is meaningful and provides results within days.
Mr. Perisic mentions the different mindsets between Switzerland and Silicon Valley. He lived in both environments. The Swiss environment is shaping slowly and accepting more the try, fail, try, repeat method which is essential of the entrepreneur mindset. There are no real failures just steps in the learning process.
Swissnex, the Swiss global network for education, research and innovation is mentioned as an important platform for innovation.
Mr. Perisic has a positive outlook on the future and on the topic of artificial intelligence will kill jobs. He thinks that more jobs would be created than eliminated. We are in the fourth industrial revolution. The rate of change is exponential. LinkedIn is 15 years old, Google is 18 years old. This means an incredible amount of improvements if we look at the internet and any technology related to it. Fear of the technology behind self-driving cars is very relevant, meanwhile, there are 1.5 million truck drivers would be needed in the US. Imagine a world with zero emission transportation system. The legal framework is missing or being developed, however, the technology is developing daily too. Mr. Perisic mentions an interesting thing: how trivial would be to introduce self-driving cars into different countries. As drivers in different cultures follow the rules in a different way, the introduction of AI could be quite different in terms of legal framework and implementation difficulties. He thinks that in Switzerland the introduction would be quite trivial as the traffic rules are very much followed. The toughest question naturally came up: ethics of self-driving cars. In case of an accident who is responsible: the owner, the car company, regulators? Who would decide the driving guidelines in case of an emergency situation? Are the rules developed by each country, a committee overlapping country borders? As (at the moment), we humans develop the software of artificial intelligence if there is an accident we decide. Let me rephrase this a bit. The millions of data point fed into the system and the algorithm processing the data decides what happens in each scenario. If the millions of data points are biased in a way, the resulting actions might be biased too. In another panel, I’ve heard the idea of a remote operator taking over the controls of an autonomous vehicle. This might solve some problems, however, will not resolve the ethical questions of what should happen if the algorithm has to decide between protecting the family on the road, or the driver in the car or the animal, etc. Developers of such systems which could cause injury and death need to take responsibility.
For many years data privacy was not a topic, the GDPR initiative from EU is a wake-up call and some companies like LinkedIn follow the guidelines. Brazil, Japan, and Switzerland developed similar frameworks. Understanding of GDPR of the visitors is very mixed between 1 and 10. I assume that on average the understand less than we should of the GPDR and it’s impacts as well as implications for the future and future technology.
LinkedIn puts members first and focuses on transparency. They looked at gender inequality and share their findings.
He is optimistic but not naive about AI. Geopolitical differences could also define how the future and certain countries develop their systems.

Please check back, as this article will be extended with many more interesting events and talks. New content will be added in the following days.

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