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Q&A With BSA Conference Keynote: Mandy Simpson

Speakers 14 December 2017

Mandy Simpson – one of our 2018 Conference keynote speakers -  is a professional director, consultant and self-described “passionate technology optimist” who helps organisations understand the impact fast moving technology has on business, individuals and society.

Hi Mandy, as an accountant with a law degree, how did you move into consulting about the impacts of technology?

I’ve always been interested in technology, right back to my first role with Deloitte, where we were using changes in tech in the late 90s to help catch fraud, particularly invoicing fraud. These were the early days of “big data” back when big just meant you couldn’t fit it on an excel spreadsheet anymore.  I’ve stayed involved in tech throughout my career, but it was only recently when I got the opportunity to join the faculty at SingularityU that I really started to understand the scale of the change that’s occurring. I was amazed at what we could do with the new technology becoming available to us, but also realised how unprepared we are as a society.

You describe yourself as “a passionate technology optimist”? Can you explain.

On almost every measure you can think of the world is getting better over time. However, as a society we still face some enormous challenges. Hunger, poverty, waste, access to clean water and shelter, climate change, inequality, security and many others. I believe the rapid pace of technological change gives us the tools we need to fix these and many other issues. We can see that happening now in some areas, for example the rapid fall in price of solar energy bringing a pathway to cheap, sustainable energy for everyone, including some of the poorest areas in the world. So, overall, I’m incredibly optimistic about the future.

What is the future of technology?

In the next decade, exponential technologies will disrupt not just how we do business, but also bring enormous change to how we live, move, learn, eat and play. The opportunity is there to use these technologies to make the world a better place. We just need to be conscious of how.

What do you see as the most exciting/frightening impacts of technology?

Most areas of technology that are truly exciting are also to some extent frightening - at least as we first become aware of them. One of the biggest positive impacts on society comes from the rapid approach of fully autonomous vehicles. But there are challenges there for us, both in giving up control of our vehicles, and then also in dealing with the societal shifts that will inevitably occur as a result. But overall I believe it isn’t any one of the technologies themselves that are frightening, but rather the pace of change.

What will you be presenting at the BSA 2018 Conference?

My presentation is titled “Taking control of our fast changing future” it will cover:

  • Why technological change is happening at such a huge rate right now
  • What are the key technologies, where are they up to now and where are they heading.
  • And of course – should we be excited, afraid or both?

What will delegates get out of your presentation? 

Technology change is happening regardless of what we think about it. We have the opportunity to positively shape how it’s used - but we need to get involved in that conversation early.

Delegates will get the chance to learn about the changes that are coming, and think about the role they and their organisations might play in shaping its use and influence.

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