Bringing People Together!

The Financial Times Weekend Festival 2018 was held on 8 September in London. It was a festival of ideas, of revolutionary thinking, of deep reflection on where we stand, and most all, a festival to bring together people to think about where we are heading as a society.

The highlight of the day for me was Martha Lane Fox, founder of lastminute.com, talking about the promise and peril of technology. Martha brilliantly exposed how it is not the technology itself but people behind the technology, what can be dangerous to societies. One prominent example can be found in gender equality. Car accidents used to be more fatal to women than to men because car crash tests were done with male models. Yes, you guessed right, all engineers working on that were men! Nowadays, 96% of the code is written by men. “And today we have Amazon Echo allowing children to bark orders to a female Alexa without having to say please or thank you. What does that teach them about how to interact with people and women? I wonder how many women were on the design team”. Absolutely brilliant!

Later on, on the Tech Tonic stage, Jamie Susskind discussed how technology will change society. His theory of how the economy is changing from capitalism to a system in which those who control technology will control the world was quite thought-provoking. In summary, we can create technology that would never consider parking your car blocking another car, going over the speed limit or doing ANYTHING that its creator does not want us to do. Even though some may argue that it is good that we are not allowed to do certain things, it is also true that it will greatly limit our freedom. Ultimately, those who control technology have the power to control human behaviour. Quite scary!

The FT Money panel explored whether Property is still a good investment. Three experts with different views on how to approach property investment took the lead. Ed Mead had the longest experience as an investor. His advice was to invest in property following your gut feeling and focusing on capital growth. Richard Donnell advocated for a buy to let long-term strategy. He advised the public to focus on cash flow and avoid paying any attention to property values. The third interviewee, Kate Faulkner, praised the build to rent model, which proved to be a bit controversial with the audience.

The talks on politics with a great debate about Donal Trump, books and Afua Hirsch talking about what it means to be Brit-ish, and food and whether the concept of fine dining has come to an end were very popular and interesting. All in all, it was an extremely inspiring weekend. Can’t wait for next year’s event!

Natali Flamarique
On behalf of Atelier Set Architecture

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