A Discussion about Mindful Innovation Over a Cold Czech Brew

Recently friends of Neumann Society gathered at Café Prague, a colorful Eastern European tavern, to enjoy a drink amongst friends, make new connections and discuss mindful innovation.

Given the diversity of the group, innovative companies from around the world came up in conversation: M-Pesa from Kenya, Uber’s presence in many capitals around the world, and of course social media’s impact on global events.

Not too long ago, technology and innovation was hailed a savior as it helped connect the world and bring about many improvements. Since then, however, we have realized that the very same technologies we had praised often cause some of the problems we face today.

Uber, for one, has brought about unique improvements in transportation and work opportunities, but has also endangered the livelihood of taxi drivers. The solution to this quandary is far from obvious. Some cities use a laissez-faire approach leaving the company to operate in a gray area, as it is in Montreal, Canada, while other towns outright banned the Silicon Valley based giant – as it is the case in Budapest, Hungary. With the looming advance in self driving cars, city regulations might be the least of the worries for the millions of drivers who work for Uber.

M-Pesa is a peer to peer mobile payment system that hails from Kenya, a country with little to no power infrastructure, has been a runaway success in many parts of Africa. There, many have never seen let alone owned a computer but there is excellent mobile phone penetration. This allows people to send money without having to travel miles, often on foot, to pay for products in person.

Facebook and especially Twitter have been a vital communication link for activists during many protests for positive change in many of the world’s hot zones. At the same time, it is used as a propaganda tool with the likes of ISIS. Facebook, with its ever-changing algorithms, filters what you will see based on content you have liked in the past. The result is an echo chamber where you only see what is aligned with your worldview depriving you from the opportunities to challenge your beliefs and be exposed to different perspectives.

The only constant is change. We all agreed that it is useless to avoid the inevitable, but it’s important to take an active role in making sure that in the new tomorrow all stakeholders are taking into account.

If, like us, you are intrigued by not only innovation and technology, but also by their impact on a long-term future, sign up to our newsletter or follow us on social media.

Join us at our next event on Thursday, Sept 15 when we return to Café Prague to celebrate the creative heart of Europe representing the V4-Visegrad Four countries (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary) where we connect the brightest V4 talent with each other and the Silicon Valley ecosystem. RSVP Today!

Dr Phillip Zimbardo, the famous psychologist known for the 1971 Stanford prison experiment and who continues to use psychology in innovative ways to help people will be in attendance.  He has several projects in Central and Eastern Europe raising a new generation of Heroes and is a Board of Champions member of Neumann Society.

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