CES 2013: A Few Sessions of Interest

The exhibit hall of the Consumer Electronics Show is finally open to all, which is kind of like a large electronic Ikea with the sound multiplied by a thousand.  Even though the convention center is much larger than an Ikea, I can actually navigate it better. Funny how that works.

Instead of blow by blow tech product coverage that is better offered on large tech sites such as CNET and The Verge, I want to focus on the sessions and panels that had the most impact to the future of science and technology. .

I saw the premiere of a great documentary called Silicon Prairie. It focuses on the importance of internet outside of standard tech hubs of New York in California, and highlights many businesses in the Midwest of the US that are often overlooked by the tech press. One that really made me say "wow" was a farmer in Virginia runs a website connecting farmers with high volume consumers, eliminating the middle man.  The trailer is below.

Afterwards, the group behind the documentary held a Q&A session. There were many great points made during this session, mainly around the dangerous laws such as SOPA that are designed to hamper internet growth. The point was consistently made that our representatives in Congress need to know about the local businesses that are powered by the internet.  They need to be accountable for this when they meet with the rest of federal government and make sure that decisions about internet regulation made by our government is an informed one.

I also attended an excellent panel called CNET's Next Big Thing, which covered emerging themes in tech and what we should not only expect, but dream about for the near future of technology. It was one of the more popular sessions of the conference so far, and the room was HUGE:


Hosts Molly Wood and Brian Cooley of CNET moderated a panel of tech visionaries to discuss the future. One of my favorite points came from Mark Cuban, who stated that the problem that most companies have is that they try to take an existing problem and automate it, instead of trying to prevent the problem from ever occurring.  The example used was washing and drying clothes - instead of finding a way to make it easier to get clothes from a washer to a dryer, why not eliminate the need for both separate cycles at all? These are the kinds of challenges that seem impossible at first, but will stretch us to be able to do things that we could only dream of before.