I attended the Digital Futures event in the new Milton Keynes Gallery on Thursday 24th October along with around 100 other interested people from the private and public sectors. It was put on by Cityfibe and SEMLEP and it was a fantastic event.

Solutions Looking for Problems?

I was slightly dubious at first. Sometimes these events can be a bit limited because of their deeply technical nature. There is also the tendency in the tech world for products to be designed that are a solution to a problem that nobody actually has. I smiled as the attendees arrived, mostly in suits which I thought slightly missed the point.


On the Contrary

However, the opposite was true. The presenters were able to balance explanations of the technology along side its use in business and consumer environments. They didn’t pull any punches either, when it came to real and perceived risks. For example, the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) methods brings forward a number of ethical questions.

pwc ai stats
Some AI Stats


Contributors included people from Cityfibre, Nokia, Milton Keynes Council, Barclays, Packaged Living, PWC and Vodafone. You can see details at the Digital Futures event page on SEMLEP’s website.

MK is at the Forefront

As you might expect, my home city is right at the sharp end of the digital future. the Government has created the Oxford Cambridge Arc project and Mk sits right in the middle. The images below will give you a taste.

Metropolitan MK?

Metro MK
Metro MK

Digital MK

Digital MK
Digital MK

Built CMK

Built MK
Built MK

Learning Points

I have bumped into a number of the technologies that were presented here during my work with customers For example, that includes projects containing AI powered dynamic pricing, digital services on cars, etc.

The key ‘take aways’ for me were as follows:

  • The UK’s internet capability is woeful and we’re way down the world’s league table.
    • But Cityfibre is investing £2.5b in a large group of cities and the Government seems to have woken up.
  • There are 27 countries defining national AI strategies.
    • The UK is at the best, according to PWC.
  • There are loads of stats that show how dependent we are on digital technologies and how it is changing our lives.
    • Human attention span in some groups is worse than a goldfish.
    • 93% of buying decisions are influenced by social media (which didn’t exist 15 years ago).
  • The half life of engineering knowledge has reduced from 35 years in the early 1900s to 4 years now.
    • It means that 50% of the knowledge learned in a typical engineering degree is obsolete before the course if finished
  • We are educating people for technologies that don’t exist yet to work in careers that haven’t been invented.
    • Just wow!

Memory Lane

And finally, as they say on the news. We were presented with the following trip down the technological memory lane. Did you have any of those phones?

smart phone evolution
Smart Phone Evolution