“The Olympics of Tech,” Web Summit, took place 1-4 November in Lisbon, Portugal. Despite Europe being in the middle of a pandemic, the world’s premier tech conference gathered 42,751 attendees. At a time of great uncertainty for many industries and, indeed, the world itself, “the grand conclave of the tech industry“ as the New York Times has named them, gathers the founders and CEOs of technology companies, fast-growing startups, investors, policymakers, and heads of state for an exchange. 

Web Summit is a company from Dublin, Ireland, that holds events worldwide: Web Summit in Lisbon and Tokyo, Collision in Toronto, and RISE in Hong Kong. No matter who was the speaker, no matter that COVID  is in the air, for most attendees, just being back at a big tech conference in person was a celebration in itself. Which testifies again that the human need for connection is as significant as the desire to live, and bigger than the fear of dying from the virus. 

Dataconomy belonged to the risk-takers and was present for four days to see, speak, observe, talk, feel, and connect with those redefining global technologies using data science and AI. Read on as we contextualize this for our audience, whether these startups are making good use of data or if they abuse our information. 

We met some fascinating startups advancing the human race by using data science. They all have three things in common:

  1. They ask for your data, sometimes without clarity on how they’ll use it
  2. They ask for permission to use your data 
  3. They ask for permission to share your data with third parties (for a greater good, or maybe just to make money)

Dashbike is a german startup that has developed Dashcam, a crash detector and distance measurement device for bicycles. In cooperation with the city of Leipzig, the urban data platform Dashtrack was developed. On a voluntary and anonymous basis, cyclists can now make the sensor data of the Dashbike available to their city. The cities can use the data for their planning purposes to improve the infrastructure for cyclists in an efficient and determined way. This is an example of data used for the greater good.

Radix wants to decentralize the $360 trillion global financial market. They have been working on a DeFi solution since 2013 and have built a core network, Olympia, which already has over 200 million of its tokens staked. According to the founder Dan Hughes, Radix has launched and built a network that is already faster than Ethereum.

The question raised is where they got the 200 million tokens because a token is nothing else but personal data that has been de-identified. To re-identify a token can be possible depending on the company’s technical and business processes to help prevent reidentification.

However, Radix has announced Scrypto, an asset-oriented programming language for decentralized finance, so that developers have all the tools they need to build a more secure and faster DeFi platform.

We think that Thomas Hobbes would be very disappointed with the idea of decentralizing the finance sector.

FlyAgData is an IoT solution that helps farmers make the most effective decisions. To collect, store, visualize, and analyze in one place allows farmers to make data-driven decisions.

It is a device connected to agricultural machinery that collects agronomic and machine data from the equipment transforming it into valuable insights for the farmers through AI.

The FlyAgData device collects and processes the data from the machinery. The data is processed through APIs (Cropio, Wialon, Power BI, Google Data Studio, etc.), and then through Artificial Intelligence, it gathers insights with a high level of data accuracy.

Tebrio is an agtech “unicorn” startup. They’re building the largest negative carbon footprint industrial insect farm globally, transforming mealworms into biodegradable plastic, animal and fish feed, and biofertilizer. Its machinery is patented in 150 countries.

Global Mindpool is an initiative built in partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) — UN’s development agency — and Mindpool, the Danish technology firm Mindpool specializing in collective intelligence. 

Do you remember the viral video of dinosaurs that entered the United Nations and gave a speech about climate change? That was from Global Mindpool. 

Global Mindpool uses the collective intelligence of people around the globe to take action against climate change. You can make your voice heard and contribute your knowledge, experience, and solutions through the platform. But how exactly can collective intelligence help tackle this crisis? 

Global Mindpool asks questions such as “Do you think climate change is a threat to your country?” and “How do you think climate change might affect you?”. You provide answers, and UNDP will channel your answers and amplify your voices to critical decision-makers around the globe.

YData is a data development platform. It offers a set of tools that helps data science teams to discover and unlock data sources, fast prototyping, experimentation with data, and productization of models. The cofounder Fabiana Clemente, a speaker at Web Summit, found an Achilles heel. Everybody talks about and is doing AI, but the truth is 80% of AI companies never reach production, and of those, 40% are not profitable. 80% of the time a data scientist spends doing their job is not building algorithms but data cleaning and preparation. That’s why Fabiana founded YData, a data development platform built for and by data scientists that helps them build a better dataset for AI. 

The question we raise is, do they use or abuse the data for the greater good? Stay tuned for more reports from our trip to Web Summit, where we’ll expand on this question and offer some answers. 

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