On November 14 and 15 the influential technology, startup, policy and lifestyle conference Digital Freedom Festival gathered technology and startup entrepreneurs, experts, policymakers, investors, journalists and students from all over the world in Riga to share inspiration and knowledge. Attendees discussed how technologies can impact our daily lives, media, businesses, and the environment. All the Digital Freedom Festival's Future Stage speakers unanimously stressed the importance of understanding how we can use technological and digital solutions in a way that can have a positive impact on both today's and future generations around the world.
The Digital Freedom Festival had the honor to welcome the President of Latvia, Egils Levits, who covered the subject of privacy in the technology era with Christoph Amend, Editor in Chief of ZEITmagazin. The president stressed that even though the Internet has solved many problems, it unfortunately also creates problems. “By using digital technologies, especially social media, you're allowing yourself to be monitored. And if a person is constantly monitored the algorithms can predict the person's behavior and produce a profile on them. It is therefore possible to manipulate people and affect their free will.” - Egils Levits, President of Latvia. For this reason we need to create awareness, which is a precondition for political action.
At the conference the speakers also turned their attention to our technological, or more precisely – how to raise children to think creatively about tech and be tech-savvy. Carl Honore – award-winning writer, TED speaker and the voice of the slow movement – suggested that slowing down is a very important concept when it comes to bringing up children. Parents need to allow children to get bored and not constantly commute them from one extracurricular activity to the other in fear of being a bad parent. Boredom is the necessary catalyst for innovation and creativity growth.
Linda Liukas – programmer, storyteller and illustrator of Hello Ruby – stated that people should teach their children to be creators, not just consumers of technology. “We need people to get excited about computers as a tool of expression and problem solving,” says Liukas.
Liukas also stressed how important it is to learn about the world of technology from stories - no matter if you're a child or a grown- up. Stories are the original way we learn: “If code is the new lingua franca instead of grammar, then we need poetry lessons”.
During the conference the subject of equality in our digital future was also debated. Doreen Bogdan-Martin – Director of the Telecommunication Development Bureau at the United Nations – pointed out that technological equality is not an option for everyone due to the fact that 3.6 billion people in the world are still not connected to the internet, even though it seems like it's everywhere.
“Some people still have no access to information, education, healthcare, community and citizen services, financial empowerment, jobs, the power to vote, or control over their personal identity. Digital exclusion is very closely tied to total social, civic and economic exclusion,” says Bogdan-Martin.
This year the Digital Freedom Festival invited attendees to participate in discussing the impact of technology on sustainable development, taking into account the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. The focus was on the role of humans in the new technology age, with the main conference topics centering around the future economy, technology in healthcare, green technologies, smart mobility and lifestyle.
For the second year in a row during Investor Day events included several pitch competitions, investor presentations and speed- dating. On the first day - Digital Freedom Festival Community Day - attendees gathered for workshops, personal development courses, startup pitch competition selection and many other events.