Ola Beilock
Technology, The Future of Media and Moonshots

Looking at the headlines over the past few weeks – including historic flooding in Louisiana, the discovery of a new, Earth-size planet and outrage over Mylan’s EpiPen price increases – a connection between these stories might not be obvious, but they represent some of humanity’s greatest hurdles.

Environment. Security. Health. Education. Energy. Food. Prosperity. Water. Space. Disaster Resilience. Shelter. Governance.

These are the things many of us think about everyday when reading the news. These are also the areas that Singularity University (SU) has identified as Global Grand Challenges –  at SU’s Global Summit this week, 1,700 people came together to explore practical ways people are using exponential technologies [think artificial intelligence, digital biology, virtual and augmented reality, nanotechnology and more] to foster positive change in these areas.

The Ogilvy Media Influence team supported SU at Global Summit, bringing over 30 journalists from local, national and global media outlets including San Francisco Chronicle, MIT Technology Review, Quartz, Inc., TechCrunch, Business Insider, Forbes, Fast Company, Huffington Post, Bloomberg, CNBC, Wall Street Journal and BBC.

Sessions ranged from “The Second Sexual Revolution,” which explored the risks of infertility as people have kids later and later in life, to “The Skies Above Us,” which explored how we will become a multi-planetary species. Other hot topics included human longevity, moonshot goals and the idea of moving from a world of scarcity to abundance.

The key takeaway? It was a group of thought leaders optimistic about the future and bullish on technology’s ability to positively change our world, and every industry as we now know it in the next 10, 15 to 20 years. Media, marketing and communications is no different…

To create an engaging discussion on the Future of Media – and how artificial intelligence, virtual reality and more will transform the media landscape, and the impact on storytelling – Ogilvy Media Influence and SU hosted a media panel at the conference that included Quartz reporter Michael Coren, Wall Street Journal reporter Tomio Geron, Bloomberg reporter Lizette Chapman and San Jose Mercury News reporter Marisa Kendal. Joanna Popper and David Hill from SU joined the conversation, exploring:

  • The 6 D’s of Exponentials: Digitalization, Deception, Disruption, Demonetization, Dematerialization, and Democratization
  • The use of virtual reality as reporters and as consumers
  • Top technology trends driving news
  • The pressure of writing perfect headlines, and how this impacts reporting
  • How to get a story to break through the clutter

It was a packed room of nearly 150, with the audience peppering in questions about the increased risk of sensationalism in news with tools such as VR, the role of ethics in news reporting, citizen journalism and the difference in media as content, and media as an institution.

The journalists left us with an important reminder, one that is a cornerstone of Ogilvy Media Influence — that we can’t forget the media’s role as institutions of trust in our society, and the weight that our democracy places on a well-informed citizenry. And while publications today might have AIs determining headline wording to get clicks on social media, we share a collective responsibility. Journalists need to make stories as interesting and important as they need to be to keep us reading, and it is up to us as consumers to stay informed.

The power of earned influence lives on.

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