Technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate and humankind is pushing the boundaries of what is possible. But what are the unintended effects and consequences of such technological progression? Which developments will advance society, and which will hinder it?
These are just a few of the questions that will be answered by some of the brightest intellects on planet Earth when they converge on Deakin University’s Costa Hall on the Geelong waterfront for Pivot Summit on May 3 and 4.
Held annually in Geelong with the goal of facilitating local and national innovation as well as developing, and significantly driving Geelong’s digital and start-up sectors, Pivot Summit is a two-day event with a substantial focus on acting as a catalyst for networking digital and creative professionals with global leaders in the related industries. As Australia’s answer to the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, the conference aims to motivate, inspire and educate its audience of creatives and arm them with innovative ideas to increase growth within their businesses.
This year Pivot Summit is moving beyond the surface and will look at some of the darker impacts of technology and why we need to be smarter about how we incorporate it into our lives, embracing the theme ‘Tech vs Humanity’.
This proves to be a timely subject to traverse with the possible new Australian laws criminalising internet companies which do not quickly remove “abhorrent” video and images, aiming to prevent the “weaponising of social media platforms” by terrorists and criminals following the recent and devastating Christchurch terror attack which was live-streamed on Facebook for 17 minutes.
“It is this interplay and balance between technology and humanity and the ramifications of not really understanding the platforms that we create, and the upside as well as the downside. The discussion now is about not just using technology for the sake of it; but actually thinking about the implications of the devices and platforms that we’re using,” explains Pivot Summit founder Leighton Wells, a Geelong based marketing strategist guru. “Tech can be fantastic and really help us be productive and get more done, but equally, it can be a massive distraction and really impact our overall well-being.”
“Bill Gates has been quoted as saying, ‘Busy is the new stupid’. People confuse being plugged in all the time and this constant thrum of information being fired at them and being uber-connected with actually being productive. He said, ‘The most valuable thing I do is actually carve out time where I can think and be by myself and spend time thinking about what I need to be doing today, next week, or next month’.”
While it’s clear Pivot Summit is not an anti-tech event by any stretch of the imagination, it is the absolute pinnacle of conferences for business enterprises looking to move onward and upward and as part of that, this year they’re taking on the role of initiating thoughtful discussions about what constitutes too much tech, too much of the time.
“This time we are saying, ‘Well, which pieces of technology are going to help me be more productive? Which technology is going to benefit me personally and professionally? How do those technologies influence my overall well-being?’,” Wells explains.
Guided by the theme ‘Tech vs Humanity’, Pivot Summit will see some of the brightest minds on the planet tackle these hard-hitting questions. The CEO of beyondblue, Georgie Harman, will talk about the importance of addressing mental health issues in today’s society while Project Rockit co-founder Rosie Thomas will address the urgent need to respond to cyberbullying. Attendees will also hear from global leader in neuroscience and psychology, Alfred Deakin Professor Michael Berk, who will address the pressure of being an entrepreneur and living in a technological age.
While this year Pivot Summit is addressing some of the serious topics within technology, it simultaneously takes on the aspirational approach, inspiring creative minds with big dreams with a slew of diverse speakers from around the world who are leaders in their fields. Alongside mental health, well-being, mindfulness and the impacts of artificial intelligence, Pivot Summit will also explore everything from branding, going global, start-ups, tech, and human centred design, to IOT, coding, future tech, gaming, esports, space, pitching, productivity, streaming, entertainment tech, and music.
One exciting addition to this years’ incredible line-up of avant-garde thinkers and creators is Torquay-raised NASA rocket scientist Dr Elizabeth Jens who will discuss how NASA is pushing the limits of technology and the challenges of exploring Mars. Currently working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, Dr Jens spends her time developing hardware for the next Mars rover in 2020, and devising new ways of fueling small space vehicles that will orbit around other planets. With the childhood dream to be an astronaut is still an ambition of hers, which she hopes to fulfill in the not too distant future, Dr Jens is an inspiring inclusion to the Summit.
“We know that people who have invented things throughout the ages have come from all corners of the world, so there’s great entrepreneurship messages in there, as well as great technology messages. You could be from Torquay, you could be from the middle of regional Victoria, and you could still end up working for NASA or Microsoft.”
Alongside Dr Jens, guests will also hear from renowned futurist, author and tech commentator Steve Sammartino who will discuss how technology is shaping society and the economy; Deakin University Vice Chancellor and President – Professor Jane den Hollander AO, tech evangelist from IBM, Steve Cooper and Microsoft’s CTO-in-Residence Andrew Harvey, a specialist in helping start-ups scale their technology.
Hosted by brilliant TV presenter, author and videogame critic Stephanie ‘Hex’ Bendixson, accompanied by outstanding Australian actor Francis Greenslade, the event will also feature artist and music producer Alice Ivy who will discuss the technologies in her craft, Melbourne entrepreneur extraordinaire Michelle Mannering and Bec Martin, MessageMedia’s API evangelist, among many others.
With mind-blowing presentations from these speakers, along with a number of masterclasses and a sensational exhibition space, Pivot Summit will deliver technology and innovation-based experience unlike anything you’ve ever seen, whether you’re an established business enterprise looking to move onward and upward, or a budding entrepreneur.
“It’s people in business, from any business, whether it’s a micro-business or an enterprise-level business, and across any industry who will benefit from this event,” Wells says. “The message is really that technology influences everything that we do, from the moment we get up in the morning to the moment that we go to sleep; when we’re outside of work, when we’re at work, technology influences what we do. So it’s about how do we build a healthy relationship with it as business people, as entrepreneurs, as just humans, that’s a healthy one and actually moves us forward as opposed to just being a big distraction.”
Pivot Summit 2019 promises a two-day visit to the future.
Pivot Summit 2019 runs from 3 May – 4 May 2019 at Deakin University’s Costa Hall in Geelong. Visit www.pivotsummit.com.au/
Feature images by Katrina Lawrence