“Adapt or die” has been nature’s governing principle since the beginning of time. Humans are experts at adjusting to change – and entrepreneurs cherish the opportunities that technological progress brings. But rarely has the pace of change felt as relentless as in the digital age. Companies need to reinvent themselves constantly to survive and their employees can no longer rely on a career for life. Even cultural institutions feel a pressure to adapt. For mankind itself, changing the lifestyles and consumption habits of billions of people may become a matter of survival on a planet that’s increasingly crowded and depleted of resources. Thankfully there are many ways to turn the need to change into a force for good, as a range of sessions at DLD 2019 showed. You’ll find the full set of videos recorded at the conference on our YouTube page.
“This is the slowest moment you’ll know for the rest of your lives”, Oxford economist Ian Goldin tells his audience at the beginning of his talk, explaining that global connectivity accelerates the exchange of ideas, with every day bringing new potential to solve cancer or Alzheimer’s or to create a carbon-free global economy to address climate change. “We’re in an age of discovery”, Goldin says. “This is the second Renaissance.” But progress brings anxiety, too, as automation threatens jobs and the effects of globalization have – in Goldin’s view – too often been mismanaged. His conclusion: “If we do not create a sustainable and inclusive globalization, it will fall apart as the Renaissance did.”
Plastic pollution is an environmental challenge of growing urgency. Marcella Hansch, an avid diver, one day realized that “there was more plastic around than fish”. An architect by training, she founded the non-profit Pacific Garbage Screening and developed the concept of a floating platform intended to filter discarded bottles and other plastic waste out of the oceans. For details, watch her conversation with Heike Vesper and Sam Handy, moderated by J. Carl Ganter.
By 2050, almost 10 billion people will live on Earth, the United Nations predict – and to produce enough food for them in a sustainable way will require a dramatic rethink of what we eat and how we eat. Industrial animal farming is often cruel and also a big contributor to global warming. As an alternative, a number of startups are developing ways to grow meat in a laboratory. “It tastes just like the bacon you can buy down the store”, says Brian Spears, co-founder of New Age Meats. But no animal has to die for the sausages that his company is producing – and no pig needs feeding or antibiotic treatments. Instead, the meat is grown from stem cells in a controlled environment.
A Distinct Whisper
With electric cars becoming ever more popular, the automobile industry is at the cusp of its biggest disruption so far. Car lovers who rejoice at the roar of a combustion engine may dread the relative silence of e-mobility. Others are perhaps hoping for more peace along busy streets. But it can also be a problem that electric cars are so quiet, as musician and sound designer Renzo Vitale explains. For security reasons, electric vehicles are actually required to make at least enough noise to warn people of their presence – offering manufacturers an opportunity to give each model a sound so unique that it becomes part of the car’s personality.