APEX Thursday Keynote: Shawn DuBravac on a Data-driven Tech World


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Shawn DuBravac, IPC chief economist, provided Thursday’s IPC APEX EXPO keynote address, “The Tech Industry in a Post-pandemic World.” The presentation began with a timeline of statements and events, highlighting key moments from as far back as 1843, and including a statement from Herbert Simon in 1956 who predicted, “Machines will be capable, within 20 years, of doing any work a man can do.” Now, we all know that by 1976, that prediction did not come to fruition.

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The above screenshot is of Shawn DuBravac and his explanation of how he is subjected to Twitter “profiling.”

Shawn then discussed how data and will impact our lives and that AI will be a large part of that. Shawn gave some great examples of how surfers will use data, as well as demonstrating the effects of AI on his Twitter profile. He explained that even though he did complete the gender question in his profile information, the AI did it for him. He said that it looked at his writing style, activities and other information to make that determination and complete the form automatically.

Shawn compared well known predictions of the past that completely missed the mark and warns us to think carefully about such predictions. Our lives will change with the use of data in ways that we can’t really imagine right now. When Shawn talked about data, he reminded us that it has always been there, what’s different today is our ability to harvest and organize the data in real time. He shared a video from OMRON of a man playing ping pong with a robot. (See video below.) Think about all of the data the AI must interpret to respond in a second to a ball, calculate the angle, return the ball over the net, and continue the rally. Amazing. 

He also shared some simple ways that data will help us purchase our shoes in the future. There’s not a more essential piece of gear when covering a non-virtual tradeshow (see you in San Diego in January 2022) than a pair of great fitting shoes. Shawn shared and example of how our feet will be instantly analyzed and and the perfect shoe size based, on the shoe of your choice, will be provided to you.

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In the end, Shawn reminded us that it’s the explosion of data that will drive our thinking and change our processes. But it will not be data and AI alone that makes us better, it’s the combination of human creativity, data and AI that will transform our business.

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If you missed Shawn’s keynote, it will be available on demand for 90 days.

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