Entrepreneurship is the trending topic in many countries, universities, and even large corporations today. While it’s important to chart your own path, it’s also insightful to find out what experts think the future will hold.
The Japan Association of New Economy held its annual New Economy Summit at Hotel New Otani in Tokyo this year. The conference was jam-packed with talks on medical innovation, future of education, and dawn of drones, but nothing topped those of our four personal favourite speakers: Ernestine Fu, Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas, Andy Rubin, and Yoshiki.
So what did they have to say on the future?
Ernestine Fu on “Embracing Disruption: From Silicon Valley to Asia”
Venture capitalist Ernestine Fu talked about embracing disruption in Silicon Valley and Asia in an interview with Peter Bell, managing partner at Highland Capital. We found a couple points she made particularly interesting.
- Cross-border financing and the rise of giant tech companies globally: There’s a rise in cross-border financing because of the rise of “giant tech companies” around the world. These companies have been prevalent in Silicon Valley, and only recently dominated Asia. Fu defines key features on these companies to be: 1. The original founders are still running the company, 2. The company is active in the local entrepreneurship ecosystem, 3. The company invests in startups. Key examples of those in Asia include Rakuten in Japan, and Tencent and Baidu in China.
- Disruptive technology as winners: Disruptive technology is technology that creates a new market, and the market would have otherwise not existed. Fu is actively investing in disruptive technologies like 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, and HTML5 companies.
For those unfamiliar with Ernestine Fu, she made the cover of Forbes Magazine in 2011 at the age of 20 for her work as a venture capitalist. She has since continued to make waves as a partner at venture capital firm Alsop Louie Partners. In Asia, she is an advisor to DBS Bank on venture debt and entrepreneurship programs, and on the board of multiple local companies.
Think you’ll start a company? Fu’s final message to entrepreneurs is to figure out your passion, find the right mentors, and always be open and curious.
Taavi Rõivas on “The Role of Government in the World of Entrepreneurship”
Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas discussed the role of government in entrepreneurship. Estonia has a population of only 1.3 million, but is one of the most progressive countries to embrace entrepreneurship and technology. For example, Skype was co-founded and developed by an Estonian. Rõivas made a couple noteworthy points in his recent talk.
- Importance of Agility: Governments need to stay agile to keep up with new technologies and businesses, as they will always disrupt and create new markets. The Estonian government believes in learning fast, applying fast, and changing fast.
- Government’s Role in Fostering Entrepreneurship: Governments need to create a business-friendly climate to foster entrepreneurship. To create an open and free market, the Estonian government introduced a flat-income tax, and also introduced an “e-citizen” program that eases doing business in Estonia and all of the EU without living or traveling to Estonia.
- Embracing Technology in Government: We need to embrace technology in government. Estonia is a digital government: they are one of the first governments to allow for voting on the Internet. Every citizen has a digital ID and profile, and data is shared securely between government agencies. The government has even implemented a “once-only” law, where it is illegal for government agencies to ask again for data that has already been provided on their X-Road data exchange.
We’re excited to see what Rõivas will continue to do to inspire future entrepreneurs. In fact, he recently even decided to introduce coding at all stages of education in an effort to improve and increase the skills of Estonians.
Andy Rubin on “The Marriage of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence”
Venture capitalist Andy Rubin recently started Playground Global, a mashup between a venture capital firm and a design studio with in-house engineers. His claim to fame is that he is better known as the creator of the Android platform. Rubin wowed the crowd with his views on AI:
- Power of AI and Robots: AI can interact with the real world through robots. Robots can collect data through sensors and videos, process the data collected into decisions, and then translate it into actions in the real world. One example of this is Google’s driverless car. Rubin believes that the new computing paradigm will be on the collaboration between robots and AI.
- Neural Networks and Self-Trained Robots: Rubin predicts that the programs behind robots will be so complex that it will develop into neural networks. These neural networks will be trained by data, and will allow robots to learn new skills by themselves in the future.
- Importance of Coding Education: It is essential that the future computer science graduates of top universities learn how to program, and more importantly, learn how to train neural networks.
Rubin highlighted at the summit that new computing platforms tend to emerge every ten to fifteen years; it started with DOS in 1974, Windows and Macintosh in 1984, the Internet in 1995, and mobile in 2007. He predicts that the next big platform will be AI and also how it interacts with the real world.
Yoshiki on “The Current and Future Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Society”
Yoshiki talked about the current and future impact of AI on society, especially in its relation to music and the arts, in an interview with Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten.
- Power of AI: AI has received widespread attention, especially with Google’s AI beating the GO chess master Lee Sedol. AI programs can now provide advice to physicists on new experimental ways to conduct research. In the future, AI will have a significant impact on the job market, and replace human labor. Meanwhile, we need to be cautious that AI can be dangerous if its not closely monitored and managed.
- Love and Emotions Trump All: Emotions, ethics and love are the privilege of human beings — they cannot be replaced with AI. Similarly with music composed by AI, it will lack the story, heart, and feelings of a human.
For those unfamiliar with Yoshiki, he is a household name in the Japanese music scene and also wears many hats as a talented composer, producer, and entrepreneur. Most notably, he started the popular heavy metal band X-Japan, and also composed the musical theme for the 69th Golden Globe awards.
Among all the speakers and experts at the New Economy Summit, there is strong agreement that AI and disruptive technology will be the next big platforms to transform the world. Governments, large corporations, universities, and entrepreneurs can and will play a significant role in fostering technology growth for the many opportunities and limitless possibilities.