Gary Shapiro, President/CEO at the Consumer Technology Association and a IBC keynote speaker on Friday, told delegates that technology is a global gamechanger.

He admitted that since last visiting IBC technology had thrown up some major changes. “The past year or two has seen an explosive growth in ‘smart’ speakers, for example. But in my view what is hugely important in how technology is enabled is [government] policies. At CTA and the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, our total focus is on innovation. We firmly believe that innovation will make the human condition even better.”

Shapiro said innovation in robotics, drones as well as AR and VR was now a given. Improved vehicle design and functionality was also generating positive changes, not just on safer vehicles which reduced car accidents, but also in vehicle connectivity and that this included self-driving vehicles. “Just think what this could do for broadcasting,” he said.

But he also warned that while some countries favoured data gathering for beneficial purposes, other markets saw it as a problem. “The currency of the future is data. Most Western nations recognise the right of the individual in terms of data gathering. But in China the State is all-important, not the individual. These differences are fundamental and will affect how technologies such as AI develop.”

Shapiro continued to develop his ‘Western’ vs China argument, saying that the number of billion dollar businesses in the US was considerable, but was almost matched by the number in China. “Europe has significantly less. You could argue that it is cultural and a reluctance to take risks, or the ease of developing products of services in English or Mandarin Chinese. Europe’s multiple languages make large-scale innovation difficult.”