Saturday, May 06, 2006

Summit for the Future (1)

Taking risks

From Wednesday till Friday the Summit for the Future was held at the HES college in Amsterdam. The Summit for the Future is an initiative of the Club of Amsterdam, a think-tank on the future, and was held for the second time. The Summit brings together international Thought Leaders to discuss significant, global challenges and opportunities. This year the theme was the role of risk in innovation and global growth. Delegates were lured with slogans like Ready to take Risks and Risk is O2 of innovation.

After the opening event there were workshops, which were organised in five parallel Knowledge Streams, followed by five Interdisciplinary Streams:

5 Knowledge Streams
Life Sciences
Media & Entertainment
Trade - Asian Leadership
Corporate Governance

5 Interdisciplinary Streams
Innovation as Risk Taking
Knowledge based Risk Management
Values and Spirituality
Cross-Cultural Competence
Creative Leadership

This was a rather interesting format of having two types of workshops.

It was a different kind of crowd than I am used to meet. Usually I am in a homogeneous group of people which a generally working in the field of new media, telecoms or publishing. But here you meet a speaker who introduces himself as a futurologist or an ethics expert. At the same time you meet people from the software business. But they are usually not the regular software developer or hardware salesman.

The subject on risk was introduced by Sir Paul Judge. He spoke on risk and enterprise and sketched how perceptions of risk by the general public in matters of safety and health can be considered an indicator of overall modern attitudes to risk. He started out to bring some relativity in the perception of death by putting a lot of statistics together, concluding that since last year at the utmost two people of the audience would have died, but give the age most likely none; this while we read daily about people dying in the newspapers. So the perception is either exaggerated or lopsided. These unclear perceptions affect people's approach to new endeavours, whether in exploration, art or business. However it is also true that new ideas have to be implemented if society is to remain competitive. But many attempts to reduce risk are bound to be counterproductive because humans will continue to want to explore and push the boundaries. It was an interesting start of the conference. While not being guaranteed that you will be alive at the next conference, you have the assurance that there is a good chance. So why not take a risk and start something drastically new.

I was there on behalf of the World Summit Award, the global multimedia content competition which was started at the World Summit on the Information Society in 2003 and which was held for the second time in 2005 and which will be held for the third time in 2007. The Summit for the Future and the World Summit Award see each other as complementary as the World Summit Award presents through its competitions visions of the future.

I will be reporting in another three blog posting on social software and Asian trade.

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Blog posting number 371

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