ABA Techshow

A futuristic globe

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Virtual news anchors built on artificial intelligence. Thirty-minute rocket flights halfway around the world. Fully automated restaurants.

These were some of the glimpses of where technology is and where it could be headed in a rapid-fire ABA Techshow keynote address entitled “The Future is Here” by Elizabeth “Betsy” Ziegler, CEO of 1871, a Chicago-based incubator.

“The rate of change will never be slower than it is today,” she said. During the hour, she focused on four trends: artificial intelligence, robotics, transportation and what Ziegler calls “the internet of everything”—everyday objects that now connect to a network.

The Friday keynote was heavy on examples. Ziegler introduced the audience to haptic wallets that know your budget and get harder to open as the month—and spending—wear on; a robot that can lay 1,000 bricks an hour; and a new luxury housing development in Miami that comes replete with landing pads for flying cars.

She briefly touched on the role that technology will play in the legal field citing the use of automation to analyze contracts by J.P. Morgan Chase and a 2018 document by LawGeex, which also promoted the use of computerized contract review.

Providing broad guidance to the audience, she believes that to keep up with the ever-changing world, organizations need to create conditions to generate new ideas, build in the opportunity to act on selected ideas and then spread those ideas throughout the organization.

“Now, more than ever, we need cross-discipline, cross-function views sitting at the table,” she says.

Beyond the examples, it was unclear what Ziegler believed the impact of these technologies will ultimately be. However, she seemed generally optimistic. While taking questions from the audience, she was asked more than once about how to assess the hype surrounding these technologies, companies and applications.

She said that she reads two hours a day about technology to learn from others in the space and takes opportunities to experiment with as many new pieces of software and hardware as possible to see what’s behind the hype. She believes this helps her differentiate between what might be “the next Beanie Baby” and something that will be used and potentially change the world.

Keynote audienceBetsy Ziegler told keynote attendees that the rate of technological change will only increase. Photo by Adam Music.

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