Web Summit 2018 - Technology And The Value Of Design On Society


By Seth Campbell, Head of Product Development.


Last week, I was part of an eager team from Big Radical and Etch, that joined Solid State Group and Crowd at Web Summit, Lisbon. In its third year and with the pledge to run for the next ten years, this event looks to be an amazing hotbed of progressive thinking in Europe. Lauded by Forbes and The New York Times, and as they say on their homepage “at a time of great uncertainty for industry and the world itself, we gather the founders and CEOs of technology companies, fast-growing start-ups, policymakers and heads of state to ask a simple question: where to next?”

Here are my best keynote speaker quotes and what we can take from this:

Tim Berners-Lee, World Wide Web Foundation:

“For many years there was a feeling that the wonderful things on the web were going to dominate and we’d have a world with less conflict, more understanding, more and better science, and good democracy… (but) Humanity connected by technology on the web is functioning in a dystopian way. We have online abuse, prejudice, bias, polarisation, fake news, there are lots of ways in which it is broken.”

For more.

My takeaway: design needs to be explicitly engineered for desirable user, organisational and societal outcomes. This needs to be engrained into all macro and micro-solutions.


Lisa Jackson, Head of Environment, Policy & Social initiatives, Apple


"There is no conflict between a healthy planet and a healthy bottom line”.

More at CNET

My takeaway: protecting the environment should be highly prioritised in all design-driven processes.


Darren Aronofsky, Film Director:

"I am going to be a bit of a Luddite now and put my faith in the constant invention of individuals to do something that a computer won’t.”

More at Packt and Spheres.

My takeaways: capitalise on AI to learn to help creative exploration and of course, to scale, but curate based on human-designed mental models for progress. You can’t cherry-pick responsibility. Exploit technology for new opportunities for expression (over replacement). 


António Guterres, United Nations Secretary General:

"What matters now is not to learn things but to learn how to learn things.” 

More at UN.org

My takeaway: when designing multi-sided solutions, we must account for individual, organisational and societal upsides and downsides.


 Here are some other interesting topics covered:

 Rethinking Technology at Large Enterprises - Alan Boehme, CTO, Procter & Gamble.


“We have been spending 20 years commoditising the IT functions in major corporations around the world. In order for a company to innovate, in order for a company to move forward, we have to break ourselves from this past, we have to move forward."


Big Data & Big Insights - Gaurav Dhillon, CEO, SnapLogic.

"Build data strategy starting with the bottom up. Find the person who is struggling with the level of data they are handling"

 Is The Auto Industry At A Crossroads? - Martin Hoffman, CIO, Volkswagen Group.

"The auto industry needs to create and invest in multiple different new business models.”


Is Tech Doing Enough To Save The Planet? - Pia Heidenmark Cook, Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA.

IKEA climate change study - Climate Action Starts At Home


·       8/10 believe change is linked to human activity

·       2/3 worried it will impact children

·       9/10 interested in making small changes

·       3% of people don't know what a climate friendly future looks like... 


We Need More Responsible Entrepreneurs - Rick Ridgeway, VP of Public Engagement, Patagonia. 

"What can we do about the global problem of annual growth? Maybe our mission statement needs a radical update” Rick on the idea of designing necessarily good outcomes.”

Digital Peace In The Age Of Cyber Threats - Brad Smith, President, Microsoft: 

 “Technological progress without an equivalent progress in human institutions can doom us. The scientific revolution that led to the splitting of the atom requires a moral revolution as well.” - Barrack Obama

Also, check out my colleague Katie Street, Marketing and New business Director at Etch Group, Web Summit trends article.

ThoughtsNicola CheeseTrends