This year, Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) organized a TEDx conference where multiple topics of contemporary importance were discussed. TEDx differentiates from the conventional conferences in that these are organized by a community that obtains a license from TED by agreeing to follow the certain principles of the organization. The event is usually non-profit and speakers are not paid. Just like any other TED event, its goal is to bring the community together to provide a source of connection and inspiration. The event was organized at HAL4 aan de Maas on October 25th. Attendance to the event provides valuable insight to ‘hot’ topics. Such as Autonomous driving, Hyperloop, and Blockchain.
In particular, the presentation by Maaike Hakker, from TU Delft expanded on the potential advantages of Hyperloop, providing a faster mode of transport than cars and airplanes without having the harmful events to the environment, as well as requiring less energy and being more sustainable given its frictionless nature. Furthermore, she showcased the experience of her engineering team ‘Delft Hyperloop’ competing in the Hyperloop pod competition organized by SpaceX last summer in California, making it to the finals WARR Hyperloop from Germany and EPFLoop from Switzerland. The experience was described as “life-changing” for the team as well as increasing their hopes that, although the Hyperloop may not be completely developed in the next decade, it is the appropriate way to go forward in terms of transportation breakthroughs.
Moreover, the concept of Blockchain was discussed by Arwen Smit, arguing the potentially huge repercussions it could have on access to privacy data issues that have been overlooked recently by MNCs, such as Facebook and its 2016 Election Data Scandal through Cambridge Analytica. Smit believes that decentralized technologies will be the cornerstone of new political and economic models, paying more attention to users privacy while managing the increasing control MNC’s possess in our lives. Thus, saving the democratic values by making sure that we do not depend only on the effectiveness of official institutions.
Perhaps currently the better known controversial topic refers to autonomous vehicles. Matthieu Campion has spent his entire career in the automotive industry and talked about the complexity found in the nature of driving, and how such a complicated task could be facilitated by providing the command to AI systems. Despite many people opposing to the ethics behind self-driving vehicles, the truth is that the probability of these vehicles executing a mistake is a small percentage compared to humans prone to error nature, with more than a million deaths on the road each year. A lot of testing will be needed and scaling up will happen eventually. Campion talked about how automotive industries should focus on the approach taken by Aircraft industries, learning from mistakes so that processes can be analyzed and updated every time a mistake in the algorithm may happen. Nonetheless, he mentioned that accidents will happen again, and although the loss of human life is not justifiable, sometimes is unavoidable.
TEDx organized by RSM provided an opportunity for the community to come together and discuss topics of significant importance in the years to come. By creating awareness of the benefits and downsides of such issues, people can become more accepting of innovation that, albeit unconventional at the moment, represents a step towards increasing our quality of life.