As most of our activities moved online in the last year and a half and the demand for technological innovation and rapid digitalization increased, the tech industry took on the task of making the online environment more user-friendly, more agile and ready to fill the gaps created by isolation and the lack of social contact in our lives. The perils that come with technology’s pervasiveness in every aspect of life are not to be neglected. Already, before the pandemic, there were voices drawing attention to the fact that the tech industry only contributes to the rising inequality in our societies.
In an article published by Pew Research Center as early as 2019, Jillian C. York, director of international freedom of expression for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, commented, “I don’t believe that technology will be a net negative; rather, I worry and suspect that it will make life better for some of us but worse for others. Much of the technology coming out of Silicon Valley aims to serve elites when we should be aiming toward equality for all.”
During the pandemic, the need to overcome the digital divide became more obvious and pressing than ever, and thus, technology’s ability to bring people together became the main focus. Whether or not the industry manages to counteract the techlash that it has seen for a while, remains to be seen. One thing is sure, while the pandemic put more pressure on the industry to do that, it was also a great opportunity for technology to redefine its role in society and tackle issues it had not been concerned with before.
As the industry tries to redefine its role, a look at the trends and topics addressed in tech conferences and events can be telling of the direction we are heading in. As a tech expert and speaker, your role in driving change within the industry is essential. Let’s have a look at what events 2021 has in store, as well as what their focus is to get you up to speed on the latest developments and give you a better understanding of the position taken by the industry with regard to its impact on the wider socio-economic context.
Most tech conferences went on last year, despite the unfavorable conditions. True to form, the tech masters have quickly come up with solutions to their problems and delivered impressive online events. After all, if tech conferences hadn’t managed to swiftly move online during the pandemic, who would have? In 2021, most tech conferences will be either hybrid or entirely virtual.
The first event on the list is a testimony to how technology has managed to spill into different cultural realms and cause seismic shifts. The auction house Christie’s, in New York, will hold The Art+Tech Summit, NFTs and Beyond on the 15th of July. This is not the first of Christie’s events to focus on how tech has changed the art world, but rather a response to the latest development, i.e. the rise of NFTs earlier this year. This year’s event will combine live and virtual formats, and bring together innovators, artists, thought leaders, and collectors. The day will start with a series of panel discussions around NFTs, followed by afternoon conversations about technology’s impact on the way we create, experience, buy and sell art. This is not just for those interested specifically in the intersection between art and tech but in technology’s impact on different aspects of the social fabric in general, or cryptocurrencies. Speaking opportunities at this year’s event are no longer available, but Christie’s is committed to having an ongoing series of events on this topic, so it’s helpful to listen in on the discussion or even check out the schedule to get the pulse.
“The best technology conference on the planet” is back in Lisbon this November, 1-4. Web Summit’s organizers are optimistic and have decided to run the event in person, as per usual. Though also described as “Glastonbury for geeks”, this conference covers way more than just tech. Recognizing the increasing interdependence between technology and other industries, the topics range from marketing and media, developers and data, commerce and business development, to lifestyle and society. In short, there is something for everyone whether you’re a speaker or an attendee as long as you’re interested in the future and where the world is heading. Mirroring the diverse topics, the list of keynote speakers includes artists, athletes, policymakers, and business and industry leaders. You can find the application form here if you are interested in speaking at this year’s Web Summit.
Though this year’s hybrid Mobile World Congress, Barcelona ended on the 1st of July, they have already announced the dates for 2022. Next year’s congress is scheduled to take place between 28 February – 3 March. To become a speaker at MWC you have to submit a proposal through this online form on their website. Though closed for the moment, this is a page to keep an eye on if you want to speak at one of Europe’s leading tech conferences. This year’s lineup included names like Elon Musk, Nik Storonsky, CEO and Founder of Revolut, Timotheus Höttges CEO of Deutsche Telekom, Ryan Ding, Executive Director at Huawei, alongside many other industry leaders. Competition is fierce, but with the right topic and the right perspective on the latest developments in tech you should be able to make the cut for next year’s lineup.
If you have a hot topic in mind and can’t wait to share it with your peers, the MWC Los Angeles is scheduled to take place between October 26 – 28, 2021. What’s more, they have extended their deadline for speaker applications until the end of July. Hopefully enough time to head over to the online form and tell them why they need to add you to the lineup.
CES 2022, another one of the world’s most influential tech conferences will take place in Las Vegas and virtually from January 5-8 2022. Besides showcasing companies in their exhibition, CES also includes a conference program where the world's business leaders and pioneering thinkers address the industry's most relevant issues. First held in 1967 in New York, this event has made a name for itself throughout the years and has grown more than 10-fold, now encompassing both traditional and non-traditional tech industries.
London Tech Week invites everyone to be part of the future from 20th - 24th September 2021. As expected, this year’s agenda addresses the sustainability, inclusiveness, and resilience of the economic recovery, as well as ways to bridge the digital divide, battle the Covid-19 pandemic, and more. Adopting a hybrid format, the conference will host round-tables, activations, and networking events across the city of London and online. The organizers are looking for talented, inspirational speakers, and you still have time to submit your proposal here to join the discussion about this year’s themes: Leaders & Innovation, Investment, Knowledge & Skills, Global Impact, Diversity & Inclusion, Digital Enterprise.
The “ultimate conference for software developers and architects”. Über Conference will be held this fall (October 5 - 8) in Denver, Colorado. The conference is held in person, allowing attendees to also join online via Zoom. In addition to keynote talks, this year’s schedule also includes one-day workshops for IT professionals to hone their skills and learn from the best. This is a great opportunity not only if you’re a speaker but if you’re an educator that wants to share your knowledge and expertise as well. Check out the schedule to get an idea of the topics covered, but most importantly, of the topics not yet covered, before you make the case for your contribution in your application here.
The world’s leading AI summit, World Summit AI returns to Amsterdam from the 13th – 14th October 2021 and will be broadcasted online. For their 5 year anniversary, WSAI plans a ‘super summit’ that combines three of their world-leading brands: World Summit AI, Intelligent Health (on the 12th of October only), and the launch of TMinus30 – the new InspiredMinds summit on climate and the future of food and agriculture. This opens up a plethora of opportunities for speakers from many fields of interest and gives a holistic view of the present impact and the future of technological developments. The lineup is spectacular and you can still add to it as the call for speakers is still open.
As if this isn’t enough, there is more good news coming from Amsterdam this fall. The Next Web, known to many as TNW, is back on 30 September & 1 October 2021. The open-air tech festival will be accompanied by online networking tools so that everyone across the globe can join international technology executives, top-tier investors, policymakers, startups, and scale-ups, for two days of business, knowledge sharing and forecasting about the future of digital. Check out this year’s speakers and apply to join their ranks here.
The fall of 2021 announces itself to be an exciting one, with a calendar full of incredible events. As a tech speaker, one thing you can’t complain about is the diversity and recognition of these conferences. There is something for every niche, and if you haven’t yet found yours, going through the schedules and speakers might help you do that. If you do have a topic of focus, it’s a matter of finding the conferences that need your expertise and dropping them a line. See you on stage!