AfroTech Fest 2018: Part 2

Cultural Diversity

Created on: April 11, 2018

Updated on: April 11, 2018

On Day 2, I was the first person to arrive, and after registration we all attended the keynote / main speech by Ade.


Responsible Disruption

Her keynote was about responsible disruption and she defined what responsible disruption is.

If you are unaware about it, responsible disruption looks at how social aspects and various cultural aspects were not factored in to the web development services and products that exist on the internet today. 

For example, there was a hand soap dispensing product that “forgot” to include brown skinned people. This resulted in a product that did not dispense soap to us. Meanwhile, there are social media companies that choose to ignore the polarising effects of their applications within a social context.

For example, Facebook chose to ignore the fact that their applications created echo chambers or silos and this means that people don’t listen to alternative opinions and this means that they become evaluative – phobic. This has a polarising influence on the media today. 

This was a fascinating talk and I really enjoyed the multi-dimensional and multi-disciplinary faculties to creating web development services and other products today. One of the sad things about this is that there are a lot of companies and organisations that still refuse to engage people from other disciplines in their work. I strongly suspect that this is a deliberate act. It is my view that if these organisations were diverse from inception they wouldn’t have created the polarised world we have right now. Who knows this was probably their intention……

Democratising Venture Capital

The next seminar I attended was mind-blowing. It was called Democratising venture capital by Paris Petgrave. Paris was an energetic speaker and she was very passionate about the fact that the top 1% hold the majority of the assets in the UK today and the rest of us need to club together and network together to grow our businesses. We need to create a safe web development services incubator type environment and grow our assets instead of being consumers of them.


Lightning Talks

The next few hours consisted of a series of lightning talks and these talks were more personalised in nature and one that caught my eye was Dawn Duhaney’s experiences working within the Civil Service. She spoke about the time it takes to get projects off the ground and how they tackle the problems involved in sharing data across the different departments within central government.


Social media and toxicity

The next talk I attended was hosted by a friend of mine called Erin. She spoke about how social media can be very fractious. And how can we move on from the toxic environments that have been created within social media today. One of the controlling aspects of social media is how centralised it is.

Erin spoke about the new upcoming social media networks that are decentralised to create more useful and coherent communication that benefits everyone.

Artificial Intelligence

The next section was a series of workshops, one of which was titled the good and evils of machine learning. This consisted of a panel of 5 people who worked within the artificial intelligence arena.

It was interesting to learn about how rulesets or algorithms as you would call them. These rulesets tend to be created without context and this creates a series of problems when they are used in the real world.

For example, it was reported last year that insurance companies have been actively discriminating against insurance applicants with foreign sounding names. This has resulted in higher premiums charged.

There was a real buzz in this group and the questions were mind blowing. Notably there were two questions that were asked by us that were startling to say the least. One of which was “Have you built an artificially intelligent application from the ground up?

The panellists couldn’t answer this question because most of them hadn’t done so. This wasn’t a bad thing per se, I suspect that there aren’t many people out there who have.

The second question was asked by a friend of mine called Bybreen Samuels. “I am a multi-disciplined person, I have worked in the not for profit sector fund raising, I have experience in the legal sector and I am an astrologer and a playwright. Why are these multi-disciplined tech roles not offered to people like me?

It was interesting to see that a few people on the panel found the questions extremely challenging to the extent that some couldn’t answer the questions in full. This clearly demonstrated that the calibre of the attendees was extremely high. Here in lies the problem why we as highly skilled professionals have been effectively shut out of the job market?

Afrotech fest was an amazing showcase of talent from our community, it was a fantastic start to the year and value the talent and expertise and the tremendous networking opportunities that were created. This really was a tech event that shouldn’t be missed and I am looking forward to attending Afrotechfest 2019.

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