Three days to set your imagination on fire: DLD20 brought together business leaders, startup founders, artists, scientists and innovators from all over the world. Here’s a brief selection of highlights – we’ll be adding more articles, videos and photos on our conference page soon.
Business for Social Benefit
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus minced no words in his speech: “We are in a big deficit – we are doing bad things more than the good things”, he said with regards to fighting poverty, climate change and social injustice. Time is running out to fix what’s wrong, he warned. In the following panel discussion with Fatoumata Ba, Peter Bakenecker and Martin Weiss, he spoke about ways for businesses to do well by doing good, for example by supporting entrepreneurs in developing countries – just like Yunus himself did when he created Grameen Bank, a self-described “bank for the poor”.
Space: Beauty and the Debris
Astronaut Cady Coleman and entrepreneur Esther Dyson (who once trained to be an astronaut as well) speak about life, the universe and everything you want to know about going to space. The following panel discussion dealt with the problem of space debris: how to safely extract leftovers of satellites and other human-made objects from the Earth’s orbit.
Truth, Trust and Democracy
Philippine journalist Maria Ressa was named TIME magazine’s “Person of the Year 2018” for defending freedom of speech despite threats to her own freedom. At DLD20, she warned of a dystopian future if authoritarian regimes managed to manipulate the public through misinformation: “A lie told a million time becomes truth. Without facts we don’t have truth. Without truth we don’t have trust. Without any of these three, democracy as we know it is dead.” Former Google executive Tristan Harris, who co-founded the Center for Humane Technology, explored these ideas further in his conversation with Rana Foroohar.
Making Zeros and Ones Add Up for Europe
Has the Old Continent really fallen behind in the race for digital transformation? Or will Europe be able to turn perceived weaknesses into future strength – for example in data privacy and consumer rights? “It’s my ambition that European data will be used for us, to create value in Europe”, declared EU Commissioner Thierry Breton. He also pointed to the shift towards renewable energy as an opportunity for European companies, as a “green new deal” requires building a new infrastructure for a smart energy grid, among other things – traditionally a strength of European companies that have an engineering-driven approach.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has a new mission: With WT Social he wants to build a new, more friendly social network that doesn’t need to collect data on its users and go for clicks because “there’s no advertising and no paywall”, as he explained in conversation with Steven Levy. Instead, Wales expects users to care enough for an alternative to Facebook and Twitter that they are willing to make donations – just as millions do to support Wikipedia.
A Climate for Change
From search engines to tourism: There are many ways in which existing business models can be improved to be both profitable and better for the planet. The right time for this rethink is now, as seven speakers explain in their presentations, each 10 minutes long.
Polar Bears, Meet Polar Bulls
Investors see the Artic as a previously overlooked area for exploring new business opportunities. Iceland’s former President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, Chairman of the Arctic Circle, spoke with Scott Minerd, Founding Managing Partner of Guggenheim Investments, about the Arctic becoming, in Grímsson’s words, “a new geopolitical frontier” – with tremendous impact on trade and international relations.
What Are You Adding?
Clara Barnett of the U.K. Government Digital Service inspired the motto of DLD20. In her speech she told the story behind the motto – and gave suggestions on how to infuse it with meaning in our daily lives.
This is just a small selection of presentations recorded at the conference, which ran from January 18–20, 2020, in Munich. For a full list of videos please visit our YouTube channel.