FFF 2020 - Virtual Conference
FastForwardForum – Beyond Corona – What’s next?
How did an “un-conference” tackle the challenges created by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis? International experts and speakers including Cindy Gallop, Heather Mills, Dhiraj Mukherjee and Professor Dr Markus Hengstschläger took to the virtual stage to discuss.
In April, some of the brightest minds gathered on Zoom to talk how health, the economy and society have been changed forever by the coronavirus pandemic, and how our worlds could, or should, change in the future. The invite-only, interactive FastForwardForum asked: “Beyond Corona – What’s next?”
What I like about FFF is that communicating with like-minded disruptors can make innovation happen.
My view is to disrupt, innovate technology as an enabler that supports and ultimately has the power – used correctly – to improve all of our lives.
Prof. Dr. Shafi Ahmed
The biggest hindrance in a company when it comes to innovation is that they don’t understand you can’t have both innovation and efficiency in the same pot, because by its very nature innovation is inefficient, trilinear, you never know what’s going to happen.
Diversity is what drives innovation and disruption.True innovation, true disruption is the result of many different mind-sets, perspectives, backgrounds, world-views, all coming together, constructive, creative conflict to get to a far better place than anyone of us gotten on their own. And the Fast Forward Forum is a perfect example of that.
I have children and I’m really ashamed how we are going to pass on the planet. So I think we have the responsibility and technologies to reverse it and we should do it.
What FFF did for me was let’s look at it from a different vantage point which I wasn’t even expecting at this moment and that’s what all of us experienced that we can take forward with us, which is a real gift.
Wow, what a location for a gathering of such wonderful minds. I spent three days pinching myself that I was there and that I was part of such a brilliant story.
The amazing thing about this gathering is bringing leaders from all kinds of industries together to create a dialogue that maybe wouldn't happen had you not invited all of us, had you not brought us together from different backgrounds.
Prof. Dr. Moran Cerf
I got inspired by the book of the Fast Forward Forum from last year. I signed up because I thought I really want to be part of this.
Peter Maximilian Stark
I'm delighted to be back. And one of the things that I know this last year has given me to think about is a lot about innovation and the role that it has in companies.
We want to challenge everyone, the speakers and the cool thinkers. What we want to do is to connect people. We want to see that the topic is growing. We want to see that if we have a discussion, something new is coming along.
I have been a keynote motivational speaker around the world for over 25 years, The fast Forward forum was the first event where I came away feeling enlightened, inspired and educated by my eclectic esteemed colleagues...
Schools and education in general aren’t teaching our children to be free-spirited. Do we need a rebellion in education to feed curious children?
As an angel investor and entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, I'm prefer to surround myself with innovative, cutting edge thinkers and doers. The Fast Forward Forum is one of those few places I loved, simply because the conversations and people were interesting, innovative, and making a difference in the world. Huge bonus, the event experience itself was spectacular - food, venue, everything was amazing.
We need to ask, when it comes to hybrid thinking, can all the ethical questions that come to mind when we talk about machines and machine learning, are the ethical processes of the past 100 years fit for purpose? Do we need to ask new questions or can we use the frameworks we have designed for the pre-digital/social age?
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Markus Hengstschläger
Our discussions on genetics and new health tools questions the ultimate responsibilities on
scientific advancement – who is really ready to face the consequences of our discoveries?
Who will help unprepared humans to handle the powerful tools we put in their hands? With
life, we should take no shortcuts – just because we hear the sound of waves, we should not
jump off a cliff as the fastest way to get to the water. We should continue looking for the
sea, and finding the safest path to it.
There are lots and lots of conferences out there. There are even conference junkies who go from one group of thinkers to the next, sucking out the knowledge and becoming a Beautifully Evolved Professional (until they start making the people around them want to throw up) ...thankfully FastForwardForum is something entirely different. It’s not for conference junkies, it’s for big thinking Humans who want to be part of an experience. A truly wonderful few days in the company of incredible people, learning to process the changes of an ever-changing world.
In Silicon Valley we have a saying: if you’re not paying for the product then you are the product!
If we want to talk about future, we need the strength and the humility to scale back. To
unbuild ourselves and start a new build. As with everything involving building the future, it
requires moving past the ruins of old glories and looking ahead, thankful to have all the raw
materials and the experience to create something new. Again.
The healthcare system is fixated on solving problems and creating solutions or cures rather than in preventing disease and ill-health. There are great things to be said for the role of science and technology in the future of health, but we should also get back to the basics, and focus on prevention. For me, that starts with better nutrition, and that means better education.
We’re all trying to move forward. It’s clear that the focus is not content. We have AI, but it’s clear that often the focus is not content. We need to have the collaboration of people [with technology].
There is a painful schism between our business personas, driven to higher and higher goals, with a global scope and potential in mind, and company values surpassing the trillions, and what remains of us after that chapter closes. As people move through the grinder of new business – accelerated, emphatic, media-obsessed – what happens to their internal compass? When you lift all anchors to take off on an open sea, where do you set harbour next?
Speaking with Markus after his talk, I was truly inspired by his idea that we must not just be optimistic, but also ‘possible-istic’. It is not just the idea that ‘this’ can be great but that we can all help change the future – it’s ours to help create. It’s time to ask – what can we do? We know what’s happening now, so what can we do with that knowledge. As someone once said: ‘Do good things and good things will happen’.
The acceleration of a chaos brainstorming is incredible – we generated 12 ideas in 3
minutes, prepared a plan for the top idea in 2 minutes, and sold it in 15 seconds. Now…
what? When the enthusiasm from winning comes off, are we ready to nurture the idea to its
conclusion, and respond of the consequences? Who is the father and guardian of the idea:
who commissioned it, who came up with the idea, or who ultimately uses it and makes it a
reality? Who’s really in charge of the future? It is time to face the simple fact that we all are.
Nobody’s in charge. Nobody’s innocent.
Heather touches upon two important points: that we must listen to ourselves and our
bodies more – people have lost this; the future of nutrition has less to do with technology
and more to do with your mind and the way that you use it, that the quality of food makes a
real difference. The intensity of today’s farming and meat production concerns me. I am not
a vegan, but good food should be about excellent ingredients and the right balance for you. I
do worry about many of the additives that necessarily have to go into ready meals, even
We need to raise the question as to whether we achieve more happiness through all this new and evolving technology. Are we satisfied? I suspect that technological development does not go hand in hand with satisfaction: certainly technology does not always give us the freedoms we think or hope for.
In the medical sector there are so many possibilities and it starts with digitisation. Robin
told us where this might lead to; how we can work with technology to start solving
problems. It’s a long way off but we have to start somewhere.
Most innovations and inventions can be used in both ways, causing benefits and harm.
Technology progress, for example in the field of AI can be used to help those with
permanent handicaps and diseases handle their lives and make life worth living. But I fear
only a very small and privileged group of people will be able to afford these technologies to
make their lives better. We have to ask ourselves if greed for profit will enable only those
people to benefit from these technologies.
In my world [as country manager of Autoscout24] mobile is already old news and we’re looking at the possibilities of speech. How does that change how we operate, how we communicate with our audiences? How does potentially not having a visual alter how we present choice to our customers? These are all things we need to think about.
As the CEO of Institute for Entrepreneurship Cambridge – Tirol (IECT), my aim is to help
promising ideas and entrepreneurs to succeed. Our universities, for instance, are full of great
talents with great ideas and curious minds, but how do we tap into this resource for the
benefit of them, their institutions and industry? We looked to Cambridge, which has had a
long-standing and successful start-up programme for our inspiration and found three key
factors: talent-spotting on university campuses; easy access to early-stage funding and an
ecosystem of people for support and networking. The problem with many universities is
they’d rather their talent focused on academia – producing papers and so on, rather than on
tangible, real-life uses. Our role is to nurture them to access the ecosystem and the
necessary business skills they most likely do not yet have.
I’m reminded of the inspirational Wangari Maathai, who was one of Africa’s bravest ladies,
and the first to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. She faced prison, served as a member of
Parliament and founded the Green Belt Movement. Her lesson was to never give up and we
can learn from her fight to face the future in a positive way. In her own words: ‘We cannot
tire or give up. We owe it to the present and future generations of all species to rise up and
Hearing about the realities and possibilities of AI has made me more relaxed. Though there
seems to be no answer to the question of the machines ‘taking control’ – I guess we’ll find
out when it happens!
We all know that if we smoke we are more likely to get cancer; we need to start educating
people about the effects of food and nutrition. That awareness needs to be raised. Among
the generations of people after World War Two, in countries such as Austria we saw the rise
of meat consumption as people got money. We’re starting to see that now in countries such
as China. As they’re getting richer, they are shifting their diets.
For me there’s change, especially in innovation. I work in content marketing and we are
seeing the connections between content and technology, such as data driven content and
data driven design. But big data alone isn’t enough, you need to make that smart data and
that’s where machine learning and artificial intelligence can help a lot. Where our content
comes from doesn’t really matter, but it must bring added value to the audience and the
The FFF Circle
Prof. Dr. Shafi Ahmed (UK)
Igor Beuker (NL)
Prof. Dr. Moran Cerf (US)
Cindy Gallop (US)
Lucie Greene (UK)
Sunnie J. Groeneveld (CH)
Carla Johnson (US)
Prof. Dr. Sandra Matz (US)
Fast Forward Files
The book offers an exclusive insight into the biggest questions facing those at the bleeding edge of tech, science and business. With disruptive technology booming, world temperatures rising and an increasingly divided world – the book explores the need for new ethical frameworks for this fast-moving future. It confronts the reader to challenge the status quo and embrace ground-breaking advances in tech, engineering and human insights. The book consists of 5 beautifully designed paperbacks in a stylish slipcase.
FastForwardForum 2019 saw eight internationally renowned keynote speakers change the conversation around a number of business-critical subjects we all face today.