Mobile World Congress 2018, Day 4: Creating a better world with mobility, Women4Tech and 3 trends from #MWC18

By Jasmine Henry

It’s been an action-packed four days in Barcelona as Mobile World Congress 2018 draws to a close. The world’s largest gathering on mobility, MWC 2018 drew 108,000 attendees and 2,300 exhibitors from 204 countries worldwide.

Some of the most influential minds and innovative organizations in the tech industry convened around mobile development, AI and cognitive intelligence, IoT and more. On the ground at Mobile World Congress, attendees braved torrential rain to talk the ethics of applied AI, spectate the first 3-D selfies and gain inspiration that mobile will create a better future for everyone.

Today, some of the brightest minds in business called for better diversity in the keynote “Women4Tech.” The primary theme of this year’s MWC was creating a better future, and speakers and panelists provided a call for immediate action to address ethics, poverty and diversity in technology.

Gender diversity begins at the top

Mobile innovations aren’t just technology. Keynote speakers at MWC offered many inspiring examples of how emerging technologies are improving natural disaster relief efforts and access to electricity in less economically developed nations.

However, we need a lot of bright minds to reach tech’s full potential, and “Women4Tech” called for leaders to commit to inclusion today, not in the future.

Improving representation of women in the tech industry requires a commitment from the top. Mary Clark, CMO and EVP of product at Synchronoss, says, “It begins at the senior leadership table for me.” Susana Balbo, congresswoman and chair of W20 Group Argentina, asked leaders to create momentum towards early inclusion of students to secure the future.

Inclusion isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smartest course of action. Not only can better gender diversity create superior products within the realms of applied AI and other emerging tech categories, its good for business. “PwC found that more female employees can increase [the gross domestic product] by $6 trillion USD,” stated GSMA Director General Mats Granryd.

3 takeaways from Mobile World Congress 2018

While content tracks at MWC 2018 focused on concepts like “the network” and the “digital consumer,” a few key themes emerged as the most exciting topics in technology today. In addition to the unofficial, overarching theme of tech innovation as a driving force for solving problems in society, there were many fantastic examples of applied AI and mobility’s potential for immediate impact.

1. Address the impact of tech

Tech is already creating a better world, but speakers and panelists discussed how to make sure AI and mobile technologies continue to improve lives globally. Throughout MWC, there was a focus on the ethical and social impact of the technology we create.

There’s a lot of hope in the future of tech. Mobility is creating access to digital identities for vulnerable populations and helping families in Africa fund their children’s education.

Researchers at the Graphene Flagship revealed we’re just five years from having access to foldable smartphones, but more importantly, this super-tough 2-D material will soon filter salt water into drinking water and create instant heat sources for medical emergencies.

If there was one overarching message from MWC, it was the need to take action to address the ethics and impacts of our digital world. “New technologies can help us solve world problems,” stated Berit Svendsen, CEO of Telenor Norway. “It’s not all about technologies, it’s about human beings.”

2. Embrace augmented intelligence

Applied AI has arrived. Is there any question about that? MWC 2018 attendees came face-to-face with the Huawei “humanoid assistant” 5G robot, Google’s Pixel earbuds that translate 40 languages in real time, driverless cars and the smartest chatbots yet.

At the same time, there was an immense focus on the ever-increasing importance of AI ethics. Rob High has stated that “with AI technologies, the goal is to enhance human capabilities, thought, and reach, not to replicate or replace them.”

Senior leaders from IBM, Google, Salesforce and more all agreed there’s immense potential in AI to create jobs and enhance human creativity, but with that comes a need to enure we are augmenting these technologies with appropriate human input and avoiding bias.

3. Take immediate action

The future is truly imminent, but the time to take action and ensure mobility creates a better world is now. Over the last four days, speakers and panelists discussed how we can improve our world through mobile technology and achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Through the World Food Programme, $1.3 million in funds are sent each year through mobile phones to individuals in need. We can eliminate poverty by 2030 if we work together.

See what happened on day 1, day 2 and day 3.

Written By

Jasmine Henry

Jasmine E. Henry, MS

Jasmine is a commentator on emerging technology and freelance writer in the greater Seattle area. With a professional background in analytics, big data, mobility, and security that spans both the for-profit and government sectors, her professional interests include artificial intelligence…

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