Attendees witness Ireland’s first ever live Smart Implant implantation
Tech industry urged to consider the ethical and societal challenges associated with innovation to safeguard children and drive positive health and wellbeing outcomes for all.
Over 250 people gathered at the City Hall in Cork today for the 7thinstalment of the it@Cork Tech Summit 2018, which welcomed tech gurus from the US, UK, Germany and further afield along with some of Ireland’s indigenous foremost tech thought leaders. A broad array of topics were discussed at the event, from the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on healthcare, to the tech industry’s responsibility to make social media as safe a space as possible for children.
Of the event Caroline O’Driscoll, Chair it@cork said: “This year’s conference asked some interesting questions of the blend between machine and human. Where is our society going? What technologies will shape our future? Are we ready for it? Do we want to be? What about ethics, regulation and privacy? But if we get this right, are the opportunities for life-saving sectors like HealthTech for example, truly transformational? No-one has all the answers, but today’s speakers certainly shed a great deal of light on the discussion around developing technologies and their impact on society as a whole.”
Implanting Tech in Our Bodies
Dr Patrick Kramer, Chief Cyborg Officer with Vivokey Technologies, caused a huge stir at the event and wowed onlookers by creating Cork’s first “Cyborg” in the form of Denis Canty, Co-Chair of the event and Senior Direction Automation / AI Software Labs at McKesson.
Denis received a Smart Implant live on stage – a first for any Irish audience!
Dr. Kramer spoke of the future of technology with Smart Implants: “Being a Bodyhacker, I am not only chipped, but I also experiment with new implants inside my body. Step-by-step we will increase the amount of technology inside our bodies. This will increasingly change us humans and will radically change our skills in every aspect of life. Cyborgs can and will become commonplace. People are already using Smart Implants in place of their car keys. Further developments in this field – expected to come on stream this Summer – include the implantation of next-generation chips, which will allow people to replace their smartphones with a microchip.”
Stevie the Robot from Trinity
Prof. Conor McGinn introduced Summit attendees to Stevie – a humanoid robot designed to allow people live at home, but enjoy the benefits of assisted living. Stevie was developed by a team of researchers and engineers at Trinity College who began using a Playstation controller and 3D-printed plastic arms and a head to put Stevie together. Since his creation, Stevie has met scientists across the globe – as far away as Nasa.
Prof. McGinn explained: “Stevie’s primary goal is to combat loneliness, but he also works as a first responder and supports cognitive engagement. He has been programmed to recognise what is normal and abnormal behaviour for an elderly person, and to notify someone if something is out of the ordinary.”
Social Media & Children
Later in the day Professor Barry O’Sullivan, Founding Director, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, UCC tackled the thorny issue of children and social media, and how the onus of responsibility falls not just on the shoulders of parents, but on the tech industry.
Speaking to a very engaged crowd Prof O Sullivan said: “It’s important that at technology events like this, we discuss the ethical and social implications of technology. With children in the UK alone spending 51 hours a week online, the industry has a responsibility to protect our children.”
3-D Printed Organs
One of the highlights of the event came from Cameron Auld a Process Engineer with Axiel3D, an Irish based medical technology firm focused on driving the global adoption of 3D Printing within healthcare, who spoke of the company’s mission: “In a nutshell – Axiel3D has revolutionised the world of surgery by creating 3-D models of human organs ahead of surgery. This moves the planning stage from 2-D imaging, to 3D modelling which reduces time in surgery and improves patient recovery time; through the reduction of time spent in surgery. ”
Cameron discussed a pipeline of activity for Axiel3D which includes installing 3-D printers in hospitals in Ireland and overseas. Axiel3D currently provides 3-D printed models of patient’s anatomy to both the HSE & NHS.
Tech Summit 2018 Co-Chair Denis Canty and proud recipient of the “smart implant” on the day also commented: “To have all of these learned people and fascinating technologies under one roof was truly thrilling. There were so many highlights.”
Gillian Bergin, Director it@cork, and co-chair for the European Tech Summit was also enthused following the success of the event: “The innovations we were fortunate to learn about today are life-changing – and that is not overstatement or an exaggeration. 3D-printed organs and digital health devices are changing how we deliver healthcare – a sector which has benefited monumentally from technology-related patient treatment developments over the years.”
Themes that were explored at the event included:
Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Tech: AI is not new but the exponential rise in computer processing power is making the impossible possible. The Summit explored how these technologies, along with cryptocurrencies, can reduce business costs, elevate success and finance business in new and exciting ways.
Futures Psychology: Technology now flows through homes, schools, cars and even the human body. Attendees at this year’s event got the opportunity to meet a live cyborg to see first-hand how humans can be augmented by biohacking with the next generation of embedded sensors and non-medical implants.
Digital Health and Augmented Humans: Powerful computers and innovative minds are creating extraordinary things. This year’s speakers discussed how digital and genomic technologies, 3D-Printed organs and facial-recognition therapies are converging to make healthcare and treatments more personalised and precise.
- Dr. Patrick Kramer, Chief Cyborg Officer and Bio-Hacker at VivoKey
- John Hurley, Chief Technology Officer, RyanAir
- Sonja Herman, Research fellow, Principal Investigator, Trinity Centre for Bioengineering
- Professor Barry O’Sullivan, Founding Director, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, UCC
- Don O’Leary, Head of EU Operations / Ireland Country Lead, Stripe
- Niamh Bushnell is the Founder and CEO of TechIreland