We’ve just returned from TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco with a habit in flavoured sparkling water and an update on the buzz worthy topics from the valley.
We heard from the founder of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin, who mused on the possibilities of new applications for decentralized ledgers. Though the rise in Initial Coin Offerings is clearly here, Vitalik explained his vision for the wider application of blockchain technology beyond creating new currencies to areas like healthcare and social networks. While companies will undoubtedly migrate towards applying blockchain technology to their features, Vitalik advised that it does not make sense for every company but rather that “a good block chain application is something that needs decentralization and some kind of shared memory.” We look forward to seeing how entrepreneurs come up with new and useful applications.
There was a considerable amount of discussion on the merits of Artificial Intelligence as supporting human capacity or humans supporting AI. For example, in issues of discrimination and bias, could AI assist humans by enabling hiring based on metrics and not biases? Alternatively, although AI could assist a doctor with running through thousands of known symptoms, it cannot replace a doctor’s intuition or feeling of “surprise”… yet. Kevin Durant made clear that he would prefer if AI slowed down a little bit, at least in terms of AI-powered referees.
In terms of growth, Yuri Milner told the crowd that he believes that the consumer internet is still on track for the same amount of growth in the next ten years as we have seen in the past ten years. He foresees healthcare and transportation related industries as being the biggest movers. Flying cars here we come.
The startup competition found finalists from varying sectors: Oneva, which enables employers to offer a wider range of benefits including child and elder care; Matic, which aims to simplify the process of finding homeowners insurance; futurefamily, working to simplify affordable female fertility testing on a wide scale and now offering male fertility testing; Colormass, which offers a B2B platform for companies to create online photo shoots to merchandize their products; and Augmedics, which creates AR headsets for surgeons. Pi, the winner of the competition, has created technology for a much stronger wireless charger.