5 things to know about our meeting in China

AMNC is where the best and brightest meet to tackle the question - what does the future hold? Image: Unsplash

Oliver Cann
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This article is part of: Annual Meeting of the New Champions

With its focus on science, technology and innovation, the Annual Meeting of the New Champions is where leading figures from the world of politics, business, civil society and academia meet to tackle the question - what does the future hold?

Here are six things you need to know about this year's gathering in Tianjin, China.

It’s all about the future

We’re excited that technologies like blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and precision medicine all have the potential to make our world more sustainable, safe and prosperous. But we’re realists, too: what if quantum computing heralds a new arms race, or AI causes millions of jobs to be lost, for example. Gene editing holds great promise for improving human health, but poses ethical questions too. This is why we bring the brightest and most creative people to China each year so we can help design the rules to make these new technologies work for us, not against us.

This year, it’s bigger than ever

It’s not all about size: we only ever invite the top leaders of organizations to our meetings, whether they are from civil society, academia or the worlds of business and politics. Nevertheless, this year we will welcome more people than ever before - over 2,300 from over 100 countries.

As for speakers, all eyes will be on the opening plenary on Wednesday when China’s Premier Li Keqiang is expected to give an overview on the economy. He will be joined by six cabinet ministers from the Chinese government, including Finance Minister Liu Kun. Yi Gang, who as Governor of the People’s Bank of China has also played a pivotal role in China’s economic success story, will also be present. In total, nearly 200 senior public figures will join us in AMNC; within this group are a large number of science and technology ministers, including France’s Mounir Mahjoubi and Dorothee Baer from Germany. Matt Hancock, who until recently was the UK’s Minister for Digital and Culture before becoming Minister for Health and Social Care of the UK is one of this year’s co-chairs.

The world’s great cities will play a pivotal role in our transition to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and so it’s hardly surprising that this year so many mayors are joining us in Tianjin, including Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester and Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi.

Among titans of industry joining us this year are Jack Ma, founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba and Ken Hu from Huawei, China’s largest private business. Very much on their way up in the world of business are a large contingent from our Global Shapers community this year, including Fabian von Heimburg, co-founder and managing director of Hotnest Internet Technology, a China-based AI and big data marketing platform and Carolina Bigonha, co-founder of Brazilian data science business, Hekima. Global Shapers aren’t the only young leaders joining us in Tianjin. There will be over 40 Young Scientists, including Sidy Ndao, inventor of the world’s first thermal computer (it runs off heat, not electricity) and Lila Tretikov, Young Global Leader and former CEO of Wikipedia who is now heading up Paris-based clean energy start-up Terrawatt Initiative.

We’re going large on start-ups …

You can’t have a meeting about the future without inviting the people that are actively shaping it. This is why, this year, in addition to the world’s largest businesses, we will also have over 500 heads of start-up and early stage technology firms: firms like Watergen, which is commercializing technology to generate freshwater from the atmosphere, or H55 S.A.Inc, which is developing electric propulsion for aeroplanes, or Soft Robotics, which has figured out a way to make robots with the same manual dexterity as the human hand.

… And pushing boundaries

It sometimes gets forgotten that our meetings are just that: meetings. Rather than conferences or symposia where people gather to listen to a procession of august and knowledgeable people speak. The working nature of AMNC is nowhere more obvious than in our hub sessions, where anyone interested can huddle and brainstorm around key ideas. This year there are over 50, covering a huge diversity of topics from mapping the 86 billion neurons in the human brain and how nature is inspiring the next generation of robotics to how to monitor – and tackle – pollution in real time.

Inspiration everywhere

With over 200 leading scientists and technologists and 500 of the best start-ups in the world, we won’t be short on creativity. But when it comes to inspiration, we cast our net wide. Alongside these pioneers of discovery and future captains of industry this year will be a unique line up or artists and other cultural leaders including Jiang Yilei, one of China’s best known comedians and internet personalities, the Japanese artist Sputniko!, whose work at the intersection of gender and technology has been featured in some of the world’s leading museums and Harry Yeff, better known as Reeps One, a world champion beatboxer from the United Kingdom who is using his art as a conduit for developing better understanding of how machine learning can inspire vocal collaboration.

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