Dublin Web Summit - Day 2

Ciara O'Brien and Davin O'Dwyer with all the latest from the big tech event

Ciara O'Brien, Davin O'Dwyer Wed, Nov 4
 
LIVE: Dublin Web Summit - Day 2

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  • 08:01
    The Irish Times Davin O’Dwyer: Welcome to our live, rolling coverage of Day Two of the Web Summit, officially Ireland’s most controversial conference, judging by all the, well, controversy.

    But never mind the swipes at Government or the moans about wifi, there is the usual array of impressive speakers to check out.

    First up on Centre Stage this morning will be Stripe cofounder and recent winner of Ireland’s EY Entrepreneur of the Year award John Collison - the Collison brothers have been wowing crowds at the RDS ever since big brother Patrick won the Young Scientist of the Year award a decade ago.

    On the Content Stage at 10.35am, the cofounder of augmented reality pioneer DAQRI Gaia Dempsey will talk about the much-hyped but never quite there technology - it’s a crowded field, but I think DAQRI is doing some of the most impressive work.

    I’m also looking forward to hearing Pebble founder Eric Migicovsky discuss the future of wearables on the machine stage at 1.30pm - his smartwatch company shattered records on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter earlier this year when it raised $20 million in one month, and he seems remarkably upbeat for a man going up against Apple.

    Finally, closing out the centre stage at 3.50pm will be Tinder co-founder and president Sean Rad, sure to offer a suitably controversial endnote.
  • 09:34
    It's never too early to pitch some potential investors. Or too late, judging by some of the slightly tired faces who seemed to have enjoyed the Night Summit last night...
    It's never too early to pitch some potential investors. Or too late, judging by some of the slightly tired faces who seemed to have enjoyed the Night Summit last night...
  • 09:41
    The Irish Times Davin O'Dwyer: Paddy Cosgrave gets Day Two underway, and looks rather surprised to see so many people in the main hall at this relatively early hour. They're here to see Stripe's John Collison, who also seems surprised and gratified at the size of the crowd. He's an increasingly confident performer, very much having grown from the shadow of older brother Patrick. The payments area is hugely complex, but while Collison acknowledges the scale of the problem, he also speaks with such clarity and focus that it's easy to appreciate why Stripe is considered most likely to dominate its layer of the payments space.
  • 09:44
    The Irish Times Pamela Newenham: From Intercom to Stripe, CurrencyFair to Orderella, tech companies held parties all over Dublin last night. Comedian Jarlath Regan took to the stage at the CurrencyFair Party in Ballsbridge to record an episode of his An Irishman Abroad podcast with economist David McWillams. Back in town, Intercom had a speakeasy in the old Anglo Irish Bank headquarters. Tesla and PayPal founder Elon Musk partied in Copper Face Jacks at Web Summit two years ago and last night it was the focus of major partying too thanks to Orderella.
  • 09:53
    The Irish Times Davin O'Dwyer: Judging from his impressive overview of the state of the technology investment space and Stripe's prospects, looks like John Collison wasn't out enjoying a night out in Copper Face Jacks last night. Most of the US presidential candidates are accepting donations through Stripe, a testimony to how ingrained it has become in the US online payments space.

    "Do not be afraid to start a business that feels like it has no precedent," he says as a word of advice to the assembled entrepreneurs. "It felt odd to begin with, but when it started getting product-market fit, it felt like the most obvious thing in the world."
  • 10:08
    Three VCs walk on to a stage and talk about the future - lot of ground to cover in 20 minutes, and they have already covered the on-demand economy, Bitcoin and wearables. Phew
    Three VCs walk on to a stage and talk about the future - lot of ground to cover in 20 minutes, and they have already covered the on-demand economy, Bitcoin and wearables. Phew
  • 10:15
    The Irish Times Davin O'Dwyer: Investors Ryan Sarver, Dave McClure and Jalak Jobanputra are talking about the areas they're interested in investing in, and not investing in. They have managed not to repeatedly describe things as "Uber-for *insert keyword here*", while still obsessing over the potential for the on-demand economy.
    Other areas of interest include health tech and Internet of Things, which shows they read Wired like the rest of us.
    But Jobanputra expresses concerns about the tech bubble - based in New York rather than Silicon Valley, she isn't as exposed to the hype and sees some of the valuations running ahead of reality, with exit possibilities becoming rarer. Sobering observations that don't exactly chime with the larger sense of Web Summit exuberance.
  • 10:18
    Augmented and Virtual Reality are big themes of this year's Web Summit, and Jacki Ford Morie is one of the pioneers in the space. And she's literally talking about space - developing VR to help astronauts
    Augmented and Virtual Reality are big themes of this year's Web Summit, and Jacki Ford Morie is one of the pioneers in the space. And she's literally talking about space - developing VR to help astronauts
  • 10:42
    The Irish Times Marie Boran: Pepper the robot is addressing the Machine Summit crowd. He is a robot, short in stature with a glossy white chassis. Very cartoonish and non-threatening, which is probably the point. Unfortunately, the voice sounds like a creepy child. “Don’t you think perhaps we can be friends,” it asked.

    When Julien Seret, business development director at Aldebaran Robotics comes on stage to chat with Pepper and it feels a bit like an upmarket ventriloquist act. However, there is a lot of complex machine learning, natural language processing and other forms of Artificial Intelligence behind its design.
  • 10:56
    The Hyperloop executive team give a press conference - they are building the tube-based transport technology put forward by Elon Musk, the world's resident sci-fi imaginaire! They're looking at having a working prototype by the end of next year.
    The Hyperloop executive team give a press conference - they are building the tube-based transport technology put forward by Elon Musk, the world's resident sci-fi imaginaire! They're looking at having a working prototype by the end of next year.
  • 11:00
    The Irish Times Marie Boran: This morning’s panel at the Machine Summit tackled the topic of the Uncanny Valley. This is the phenomenon we experience when we encounter something that looks very human but not quite human at the same time, a bit like the computer-animated train conductor in The Polar Express that looked like Tom Hanks but didn’t. Creepy.
    We’ll have to think about this a lot more in the next few decades. Do we want robots that look like people (Repliee Q2), pets (Roomba) or cartoonish stereotypical robots (Pepper)? What happens if robots don’t behave the way we want them to. Robot ethicist Nell Watson gives the example of a phone operator bot that, when questioned, kept insisting it was human. Can we teach manners and ethical behaviour to robots? At the current pace of robotics research, we’ll find out soon(ish).
  • 11:56
    The Irish Times Elaine Edwards: Social media and technology are changing the way diplomats engage and do their jobs, a talk on the Society stage heard this morning. Commenting from the audience, Kevin Conroy of the Department of Foreign Affairs said the volume and speed of digital media had changed things for working diplomats both at home and abroad. 'But I think apart from the day-to-day work of diplomats it actually impacts on policy and what the issues are that governments are responding to.'
    Mr Conroy said the migration crisis was a case where digital media reporting had had a huge impact. 'It went way to the agenda very quickly when the pictures of the young child on the beach were circulated at the end of the summer.
    He wasn't the first child to die in the Mediterranean and hasn't been the last and there were...another dozen or so children in the last boat that capsized off the coast of Greece but the media and social media aren't reacting in the same way as the crisis has moved on.'
  • 12:18
    Padraig Harrington chatting on the Sports Stage - he's got a nine-week winter break period that he says is key preparation for next year. But alas he tore his knee cartilage playing tennis with his kids.
    Padraig Harrington chatting on the Sports Stage - he's got a nine-week winter break period that he says is key preparation for next year. But alas he tore his knee cartilage playing tennis with his kids.
  • 12:30
    The Irish Times Davin O'Dwyer: There's a great Ted-style talk by Beau Lotto on the Content Stage - he's talking about the neuroscience of perception, replete with lots of fascinating, and amusing, experiments to prove just how dumb our brains are. Quite the antidote to being told how infinite our potential is, which seems to be a theme of the Web Summit!
  • 12:35
    The Irish Times Pamela Newenham: Web Summit organisers have committed to giving 10,000 free tickets to female entrepreneurs for its conferences next year to help "even the gender ratio at our events".
    "Over the past number of years I’ve been acutely aware that female participation in the tech sector has been and continues to be a significant issue," Web Summit producer Sinead Murphy said.
    "We're going to try and play a small part in changing that," she added.
    The conference is inviting 10,000 female entrepreneurs from around the world to attend, for free, Web Summit 2016 in Lisbon, the conference's gathering in India called SURGE, to RISE in Hong Kong and to Collision in New Orleans.
  • 12:52
    Living life online - Essiebutton, Noodlerella & the rather boringly names Rene discuss becoming an online star. They all look very happy to be on a real stage instead of a video camera...
    Living life online - Essiebutton, Noodlerella & the rather boringly names Rene discuss becoming an online star. They all look very happy to be on a real stage instead of a video camera...
  • 13:21
    The Irish Times Marie Boran: There have been plenty of top quality futurism-tinged talks at the Machine Summit today but lets talk about sex, baby. Lets talk about you and ...your robot.
    Robots already do the vacuuming, help us with our shopping and drive cars so why not get one to help out in the, you know, bedroom area? This was the topic debated by a group of experts on robots and robot ethics.
    Kathleen Richardson, Senior Research Fellow in the Ethics of Robotics, De Montfort University, thinks that it is "something we need to be worried about" because if people think they can form an intimate relationship with a robot then that says something about how we form relationships with other people. On the other hand, Nell Watson, futurist at Singularity University, says she wonders if robots can perhaps help lonely people or even people with disabilities who have challenges with physical interactions. Maybe sex robots aren't just made (and used) by shady characters like Nathan in Ex Machina, they might be an emotional lifeline for those who need it; when it comes to our preconceptions of sex with robots, maybe we should try a little tenderness.
  • 13:26
    Nice collection of cities you got there in 2016. Wonder when their respective prime ministers will get invites...
    Nice collection of cities you got there in 2016. Wonder when their respective prime ministers will get invites...
  • 13:28
    The Irish Times Marie Boran: The audience would have liked a live demo but all we got was a promo video of Jibo, billed as the world's first family robot. He was created by Dr Cynthia Breazeal and her team (Breazeal has a background in robotics at MIT and created the world's first interactive, emotionally expressive robot). Jibo doesn't really look like a robot; he has no feet and just sits on your kitchen counter or bedside but the AI seems convincing. He welcomes you home, gives you messages, reads to the children at night, takes pictures at family events and has an SDK so that developers can create tonnes of other apps to work with him. I think this is the first robot I've heard about today that I want to take home with me. He goes on sale in early 2016.
  • 13:36
    The first Pebble watch prototype, as shown off by Eric Migicovsky, Pebble founder, speaking now on Machine Stage
    The first Pebble watch prototype, as shown off by Eric Migicovsky, Pebble founder, speaking now on Machine Stage
  • 13:49
  • 13:49
    The Irish Times From the Machine Summit: a bit of VR.
  • 13:51
    The Irish Times Davin O'Dwyer: Interesting talk by Eric Migicovsky on the Machine Stage about the Pebble smartwatch and the future of wearables. Lot of people understandably felt that Pebble was rendered redundant when Apple launched the Apple Watch, but Migicovsky made the point that Pebble already had an enthusiastic community of users courtesy of its record-breaking Kickstarter campaigns. And you get the feeling most people would like to be in a community led by a guy as affable as Migicovsky.
  • 14:07
    The Irish Times Ciara O'Brien: A quick tour around the Machine Summit hall yielded a couple of interesting projects, including a smart umbrella. The Oombrella works with an app on your phone to give you weather alerts for your area, so you'll take it with you when you need it; share live weather data to the community; and also reminds you to take it home with you if you're out in a restaurant or a friend's house. Although you could argue that the price tag should be enough of a reminder - at €79 it's not the average emergency Penney's job.

    It's going on to Kickstarter shortly.
  • 14:12
    The other Web Summit - the main RDS arena and the Simmonscourt Pavilion are quite a walk apart, and it's easy to get stuck in one or the other. Almost feels like two competing technology conferences have set up across the road from each other.
    The other Web Summit - the main RDS arena and the Simmonscourt Pavilion are quite a walk apart, and it's easy to get stuck in one or the other. Almost feels like two competing technology conferences have set up across the road from each other.
  • 14:56
    Among the more idealistic startups at the Web Summit is the Silent Secret team, who have developed a very thoughtful anonymous social networking app with an emphasis on mental health. They're flying back to the UK tomorrow morning to pick up an award for their work at the House of Lords!
    Among the more idealistic startups at the Web Summit is the Silent Secret team, who have developed a very thoughtful anonymous social networking app with an emphasis on mental health. They're flying back to the UK tomorrow morning to pick up an award for their work at the House of Lords!
  • 14:58
    The Irish Times Marie Boran: Hundreds of millions of lives are theoretically at risk because the ethical and cybersecurity parameters of how ‘connected cars’ will work have not yet been properly established, the summit heard.
    Evgeny Chereshnev, vice president of global consumer marketing with IT security company Kaspersky, invited startups with ideas in the area to contact it, saying he did not have any product to sell or any firm answers in this area.
    He said things had changed dramatically in the past couple of years with regard to how cybersecurity applied to the automotive industry.
    “We don’t realise that a car is a computer running on diesel or high-octane fuel, but it’s a computer eventually.”
    Indicating to a car at the side of the stage, Chereshnev indicated he could, in theory take it over remotely and drive it into the audience.
  • 15:10
    The Irish Times Ciara O'Brien: Could we see an end to the need for insurance companies? That was just one of the scenarios put forward in a panel discussion on the wearables, robots and the future of medtech.

    It was mainly about wearables though; the panel, which included Nymi founder Karl Martin and Nervana Systems’ Arjun Bansal, didn’t manage to get to robots because there was a bit of debate on the wearables side of things.

    Part of the change in the medtech industry will be brought by the revolution in big data for healthcare, which can deliver insights in real time for users. The availability of low powered sensors has led to a wealth of innovation, with developers trying out new things, Martin said.

    He also voiced what many people are thinking, that the initial introduction of wearables was somewhat of a false hope because all they did was count steps and read your heart rate. While that’s nice data to have, it’s what you do with it that’s the key thing, and you have to inspire real behaviour change. The dirty secret in the wearables industry? According to Martin, it’s that most people don’t wear them after 30-60 days.

    But Bansal said that while the day of the handheld MRI is still a way off, things are heading in the right direction. There have been “tremendous strides” made on the algorithm and analytics side of things.

    While the idea of having everyone’s genome sequenced may seem a bit Orwellian and open to discrimination, it’s the ability to predict future illness, the panel said, that could spell the end for insurance companies. After all, if we already know what we’re at risk of in the future, why would we need insurance companies?
  • 15:15
  • 15:15
  • 15:16
    Stephen Dunne of Barcelona-based Neuroelectrics gives a fairly mind blowing pitch on their brain-health tech, if that isn't too obvious a pun. The investors don't know if it's science-fiction or the future of medicine...
    Stephen Dunne of Barcelona-based Neuroelectrics gives a fairly mind blowing pitch on their brain-health tech, if that isn't too obvious a pun. The investors don't know if it's science-fiction or the future of medicine...
  • 15:34
    The Irish Times Davin O'Dwyer: Has anyone ever used a plug-in fragrance dispenser and thought "I really wish I could control this from my iPhone"?
    No, didn't think so. But what do I know, because two guys from a firm called Pura are showing off just such a product, the world's first smart fragrance dispenser, backed by 'Big Data Analytics', on one of the Pitch stages. Their team includes 'hipsters, hackers and hustlers'.
    Amazingly, this doesn't appear to be satire. No one is laughing either - too stunned, I imagine. And the investors do not seem to see the joke. If it's a gag, it's a Web Summit classic.
  • 15:38
    The Irish Times Marie Boran: You've heard it here first, folks. HaaS (Hackers as a Service) has been recommended (and possibly coined) by Rami Essaid, Co-Founder and CEO of Instil Networks, a bot-blocking service. This hackers for hire practice is not new but many companies are reluctant to do so even though it would help detect vulnerabilities and prevent future cyberattacks, says Evgene Chereshnev, Vice President of global consumer marketing for the well-known Kaspersky Lab. Chereshnev is putting the frighteners on the audience with his prediction that recent cyberattacks like Ashely Madison and TalkTalk are "only the teeny tiny tip of the iceberg". Unlike many IoT experts who have been telling Summit attendees that scores of connected devices are just as safe as current technology, Chereshnev says that each device is "a potential access point". Any by 2020 it is predicted that a staggering 50 billion devices will be connected. Scary stuff.
  • 15:57
    Paddy Cosgrave reveals 10 start-ups selected by what appears to be an undercover investor programme - they will be guests in Lisbon, and earn some kudos
    Paddy Cosgrave reveals 10 start-ups selected by what appears to be an undercover investor programme - they will be guests in Lisbon, and earn some kudos
  • 16:10
    The Irish Times Web Summit founder Paddy Cosgrave has just announced an initiative to invite 10,000 female entrepreneurs to one of the Web Summit's four conferences around the world next year, for free.

    "I'm thrilled that over the last five years, we have able to grow this little event from 400 people to 40,000
    "But we want to invite 10,000 entrepreneurs to our events next year at absolutely no cost. I want you to invite a female entrepreneur on our website. They may not be able to make it, but if the invite isn't made, I don't think the ratio at events like these can happen, and I think changing the ratio is something we need to do."
  • 16:16
    Tinder's Sean Rad is on stage to talk swipes, matches and hook-ups. In the mantra common to many start-ups, he believes his company is changing the world...
    Tinder's Sean Rad is on stage to talk swipes, matches and hook-ups. In the mantra common to many start-ups, he believes his company is changing the world...
  • 16:26
    The Irish Times Davin O'Dwyer: On the Main Stage, Tinder's Sean Rad is discussing the world-changing potential of Tinder - and Ireland seems to be changing more than most.

    "Ireland is a highly engaged market for us," he says with a chuckle.

    "It's been our mission since day one to uncover every popssible meaningful relationship - there are so many barriers, you walk over you say hello you might get nervous, you might get rejected, it's not fun. If you make more possibilities, you're fundamentally changing the world. If we can make more connections to a person's life, you are fundamentally chanigng that person's life. You're not going to remember the photo you saw on Snapchat two hours ago, but you will remember the person you met on Tinder two weeks ago."

  • 17:12
    The Irish Times Davin O'Dwyer: Well that's a wrap for Day Two, and quite an eventful day it was too.
    From Swedish House Mafia to Richard Bruton, we had some unlikely guests turn up.
    With robot sex and smart air purifiers and umbrellas telling us it's raining, we saw how tech entrepreneurs don't let weird ideas go untested.
    And with the gender-ratio changing invitation to 10,000 women entrepreneurs, we had a very worthy initiative just as the Summit departs our shores.
    Come back tomorrow for coverage, and thanks for reading.