2. It is the age of the Systemic Internet
AOL founder and tech investor Steve Case says we are now living in The Third Wave of the Internet –beyond the web and apps into the Internet of Everything. And so leaders of global corporates such as Johnson & Johnson, GE, IBM and Ford took to Austin this year to discuss how the Internet should focus on invisibly and systemically integrating – through AI, big data networks and joint corporate / innovative tech entrepreneur / government partnerships – into how society operates day to day. This could relate to how the healthcare system saves more lives as well as saves money through better cloud access to personalised medical and behavioural data, or how we are educated, or how buildings are constructed or the autonomous cars we eventually drive.
3. It is all about AI
Unsurprisingly many sessions this year were focused on the new digital oil of AI, on cognitive computing and the proliferation of bots. But Adam Cheyer, who founded and sold Siri to Apple and who is building a new more advanced cross platform version called "Viv", was keen to emphasise how the singularity is unlikely to come any time soon and we should view AI as just another evolutionary tool to augment human intelligence.
4. Ethics is the next Internet protocol to be cracked
Author Kate Crawford named her talk about the misuse of population profiling "Dark days: AI and the rise of fascism". Corporates talked about the importance of clear ethical codes around AI and data privacy. Tech development now outpaces our ability to think through its implications. Fierce debates are clearly to be played out here.
5. Diversity rightly continues to be fought for
There was much content this year on the need for greater diversity in the tech community, business and society at large. The tech billionaire Chris Sacca – who invested early in Twitter, Uber and Instagram – said, "If you don't invest in diversity you must hate money". The founder of female empowered dating app Bumble, Whitney Wolfe, talked about more women "being the CEO your parents wanted you to marry". Wharton's top rated professor on management, Adam Grant, warned against the pitfalls of hiring too similar people when the focus is on "cultural fit" as opposed to "cultural contribution".