Meet our international keynote speakers

Get inspired by thought leaders! 
Our outstanding keynote speakers take to the stage to share new digital technology trends and the latest research shaping our world.

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Mung Chiang
Executive Vice President, Purdue University
Roadmap to 6G
Thursday 21 October

This is the decade of 6G development. We will discuss the fundamental differences 6G will likely mark compared to 5G, the key R&D opportunities in. 6G, and the unique “lab to life” 6G deployment at Purdue University’s Innovation Campus in Indiana, USA.

Mung Chiang is the Executive Vice President of Purdue University for strategic initiatives and innovation campus. He has also been the John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering and the Roscoe H. George Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering since 2017. Purdue Engineering’s ranking rose from #9 to #4 and became the largest engineering school ever ranked top five in the U.S. The College won 12 national research centers, constructed or renovated 18 buildings, and completed the first $1B philanthropy campaign by any college in a public university. During 2020, he served as the Science and Technology Adviser to the U.S. Secretary of State and the chief global technology office in the Department of State. In 2021, he founded the think tank, Center for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue, and started serving as the technology and innovation advisor to the State of Indiana. Prior to 2017, he was the Arthur LeGrand Doty Professor of Electrical Engineering, the inaugural Chair of Princeton Entrepreneurship Council, and Director of Keller Center for Engineering Education at Princeton University.

His research on communication networks received the 2013 Alan T. Waterman Award, the highest honor to a scientist or engineer under the age of 40 in the U.S. each year. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the IEEE Tomiyasu Technical Achievement Award, he was elected to the National Academy of Inventors and the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. He founded the Princeton Edge Lab in 2009 and co-founded an industry consortium and several startup companies with sixty million users globally. His textbooks and online courses received the ASEE Terman Award and reached hundreds of thousands of students.

Elizabeth Churchill
Director of User Experience, Google
Supporting designers and developers is the way to a better future: Some reflections and case studies
Thursday 21 October

While the term ”user experience” has been mostly associated with consumer experiences, a body of work has focused on creating great tools for designers and developers. With an eye toward creating ”end-user”, consumer experiences that are more usable, useful, inclusive and durable and drawing on my background in Human Computer Interaction (HCI), and on the principles of Design Thinking and Value Sensitive Design, I have for the last several years built teams and programs of work around design and development practices, and around tooling and documentation for designers and developers. Using a guiding framework (4 Ps: Philosophy, Purpose, Practice, Participation), my approach has been to build consistent reflection regarding user-value and user-centricity into the everyday processes, practices and tools that designers and developers use in their daily work. 

In this talk, I will elaborate more about the 4 P’s guiding framework, and offer illustrations of my approach with case studies from three areas where I have built research teams and programs while at Google: Material Design (a design system developed and launched by Google in 2014), Flutter (an open-source UI software development kit), and Fuchsia (a recently launched new operating system from Google that prioritizes security, updatability, and performance).

Elizabeth Churchill is a Director of User Experience at Google. Her field of study is Human Computer Interaction and User Experience, with a current focus on the design of effective designer and developer tools. 

Churchill has built research groups and led research in a number of well known companies, including as Director of Human Computer Interaction at eBay Research Labs in San Jose, CA, as a Principal Research Scientist and Research Manager at Yahoo! in Santa Clara, CA and as a Senior Scientist at PARC and before that at FXPAL, Fuji Xerox’s Research lab in Silicon Valley. 

Working across a number of research areas, she has published research, patented prototypes, and taught courses at a number of universities. She has more than 50 patents granted or pending, 7 academic books, and over 100 publications in theoretical and applied psychology, cognitive science, human-computer interaction, mobile and ubiquitous computing, computer mediated communication and social media. In 2016, she received the Citris-Banatao Institute Athena Award for Executive Leadership. 

She served as the Executive Vice President of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) from 2018-2020, and on the Executive Committee of the ACM’s Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI), for 8 years, 6 years of those as Executive Vice President and 2 as Vice President for Chapters. She has also held leadership committee positions on a number of ACM SIGCHI associated conferences. Churchill is a Fellow and Distinguished Speaker of the ACM, and a member of the SIGCHI Academy. 

Churchill earned her BSc. in Experimental Psychology and her MSc. in Knowledge Based Systems from the University of Sussex in the UK, and her PhD in Cognitive Science from the University of Cambridge, also in the UK. She has received honorary doctorates from the University of Sussex (2018) and Stockholm University (2019) for her continued contributions to the field of human computer interaction.

Deborah Estrin
Professor of Computer Science and Associate Dean for Impact, Cornell Tech
Immersive care: technology for caregiving
Wednesday 20 October

Caregiving in the home is a societally critical, yet under-addressed, application domain which is ripe for AI-powered innovations. This talk will touch on: the context of caregiving, technical opportunities for bringing superpowers to caregivers through mixed reality, the centrality of values in design to the home care setting, and the need for a Public Interest Tech framing to overcome misaligned incentives in healthcare, commercialization, and research.

Deborah Estrin is a Professor of Computer Science at Cornell Tech in New York City where she holds The Robert V. Tishman Founder’s Chair, serves as the Associate Dean for Impact, and is an Affiliate Faculty at Weill Cornell Medicine. Estrin’s research activities include technologies for caregivingimmersive healthsmall dataparticipatory sensing, and Public Interest Technology.

Before joining Cornell University Estrin was the Founding Director of the NSF Center for Embedded Networked Sensing (CENS) at UCLA; pioneering the development of mobile and wireless systems to collect and analyze real time data about the physical world. Estrin co-founded the non-profit startup, Open mHealth, and has served on several scientific advisory boards for early stage mobile health startups and as an Amazon Scholar.

Estrin’s honors include: ACM Athena Lecture (2006), Anita Borg Institute’s Women of Vision Award for Innovation (2007), the IEEE Internet Award (2017), and MacArthur Fellowship (2018). She is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2007), the National Academy of Engineering (2009), and the National Academy of Medicine (2019). She was awarded honorary doctorates from EPFL (2008) and Uppsala (2011).

Current funders include National Science Foundation, Atlantic PhilanthropiesMacArthur Foundation and Cornell University.

Current collaborators include Tanzeem ChoudhuryNicki DellHelen NissenbaumJP Pollak.

Anthony Finkelstein
President of City, University of London
Talk: To be announced
Wednesday 20 October

Abstract: To be announced

Professor Anthony Finkelstein is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. He is also a Member of Academia Europaea and a Fellow of City & Guilds of London Institute. He has an Honorary DSc from City, University of London. He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to computer science and engineering.  He is a graduate in systems engineering holding a BEng, MSc and PhD, and is a Chartered Engineer and Chartered IT Practitioner.

Until taking up the role of President he was Chief Scientific Adviser for National Security to HM Government, a senior strategic and operational role that involves leadership of science, research and innovation across the UK’s national security community.

He has provided consultancy advice to a very large number of high-profile companies and government organisations. He has acted as an expert in complex technology disputes. He was awarded the UCL ‘Entrepreneurial Spirit’ award, an institutional honour marking his contributions to knowledge transfer. He has established three successful ‘spin-out’ companies (including one ‘exit’) providing respectively professional services, product software and an innovative software service. He served on the Board of UCL Business, UCL’s technology transfer office.

He has a particular interest in embedding public engagement in all aspects of the work of engineering and has been awarded the UCL ‘Provost’s Award for Institutional Leadership in Public Engagement’. He has chaired the Royal Academy of Engineering Ingenious Awards supporting public engagement with engineering. He is committed to engineering education and has organised national and international events for students. He was part of the team that established a University Technical College in East London.

Link to profile: finkelstein.uk

Jaron Lanier
Scientist, Musician, Visual Artist & Author of Who Owns the Future?
There Are Two Possible Human Futures And One of Them Is Better
Wednesday 20 October

There are roughly two paths humanity can take as we become ever more high tech, but we usually only talk about one of them. The path we talk about is that there will be more and more algorithms and robots, and people will lose jobs and maybe a sense of meaning, but we can’t do anything about that, so we should hope for some kind of ”luxury communism” where we are all well taken care of by the machines, even if that hope seems unjustified.  There’s another path in which we recognize that algorithms cannot function without input from people.  People provide the goals, the taste, the examples, the feedback, and so on, no matter how advanced algorithms become.  Once you see this, you are free to think of computers as tools instead of as creatures.  In that case, people everywhere, including everyone but in a multitude of different ways, deserve to be paid for their contributions that make algorithms possible.  The future becomes a story of ever more creative classes instead of ever more idle classes, even though in either case the technology is the same.  A creative future is a meaningful, spiritual, and better future. It is the only survivable future.

A Renaissance Man for the 21st century, Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist, composer, artist, and author who writes on numerous topics, including high-technology business, the social impact of technology, the philosophy of consciousness and information, Internet politics, and the future of humanism.

A pioneer in virtual reality (a term he coined), Lanier founded VPL Research, the first company to sell VR products, and led teams originating VR applications for medicine, design, and numerous other fields. He is currently the ”octopus” (which stands for Office of the Chief Technology Officer Prime Unifying Scientist) at Microsoft. He was a founder or principal of startups that were acquired by Google, Adobe, Oracle, and Pfizer.

In 2018, Lanier was named one of the 25 most influential people in the previous 25 years of tech history by Wired Magazine. He’s also been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine, top one hundred public intellectuals in the world by Foreign Policy magazine, top 50 World Thinkers by Prospect magazine, and one of history’s 300 or so greatest inventors in the Encyclopedia Britannica. In 2009 Jaron Lanier received a Lifetime Career Award from the IEEE, the preeminent international engineering society.

As a musician, Lanier has been active in the world of new ”classical” music since the late seventies. He is a pianist and a specialist in unusual musical instruments, especially the wind and string instruments of Asia. He maintains one of the largest and most varied collections of actively played rare instruments in the world.

George Malliaras
Prince Philip Professor of Technology, University of Cambridge
Technology for Bioelectronic Medicine
Thursday 21 October

Bioelectronic medicine provides a new means of addressing disease via the electrical stimulation of tissues: Deep brain stimulation, for example, has shown exceptional promise in the treatment of neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders, while stimulation of peripheral nerves is being explored to treat autoimmune disorders. To bring these technologies to patients at scale, however, significant challenges remain to be addressed. Key among these is our ability to establish stable and efficient interfaces between electronics and the human body. I will show examples of how this can be achieved using new electronic materials and devices engineered to communicate with the body and evolve with it.

George Malliaras is the Prince Philip Professor of Technology at the University of Cambridge. He received a PhD from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands and did a postdoc at the IBM Almaden Research Center, USA. Before joining Cambridge, he was a faculty member at Cornell University in the USA, where he also served as the Director of the Cornell NanoScale Facility, and at the School of Mines in France.

His research has been recognized with awards from the New York Academy of Sciences, the US National Science Foundation, and DuPont, and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Linköping in Sweden. He is a Fellow of the Materials Research Society and of the Royal Society of Chemistry and serves as Deputy Editor of Science Advances.

Nuria Oliver
Co-founder and Vicepresident of ELLIS (The European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems)
Towards a Socially Sustainable Artificial Intelligence
Wednesday 20 October

We live in the 4th Industrial Revolution, which is profoundly transforming our society as it represents an unprecedented connection between the digital, the physical and the biological worlds. This Revolution is enabled by key disciplines, including nanotechnology, biotechnology, genetic engineering and Artificial Intelligence (AI). In fact, AI will be key to help us tackle the most pressing challenges in our society, from climate change to pandemics. However, AI also poses important societal challenges of different nature – from ethical to economic – that should be considered to ensure that this powerful discipline is used to drive positive social impact in a safe, ethical, and sustainable manner. In my talk I will describe both the opportunities and the challenges associated with the broad use of AI in our societies.

Nuria Oliver is co-founder and vice-president of ELLIS (The European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems), co-founder of the Alicante ELLIS Unit, devoted to research on ”Human(ity)-centric Artificial Intelligence”, Chief Data Scientist at Data-Pop Alliance and Chief Scientific Advisor at the Vodafone Institute. In March 2020, she was named Commissioner for the President of the Valencian Region on AI Strategy and Data Science to fight Covid-19. Since then, she has led a team of with 20+ data scientists. She has also led the ValenciaIA4COVID team, which has recently won the 500k XPRIZE Pandemic Response Challenge.

She has over 25 years of research experience in the areas of human behavior modeling and prediction from data and human-computer interaction. She has been a researcher at Microsoft Research (Redmond, WA), the first female Scientific Director at Telefonica R&D for over 8 years and the first Director of Research in Data Science at Vodafone globally (2017-2019). Her work in the computational modeling of human behavior using Artificial Intelligence techniques, human-computer interaction, mobile computing and Big Data analysis – especially for the Social Good is well known with over 160 scientific publications that have received over 20,000 citations and a ten best paper award nominations and awards. She is co-inventor of over 40 filed patents and she is a regular keynote speaker at international conferences.  Her work has contributed to the improvement of services, the creation of new services, the definition of business strategies and the creation of new companies.

Nuria is recognized by the ACM as Distinguished Scientist and Fellow. She is also a Fellow of the IEEE and the European Association for Artificial Intelligence.

Her passion is to improve people’s quality of life, both individually and collectively, through technology. She is also passionate about scientific outreach. Hence, she regularly collaborates with the media (press, radio, TV) and gives non-technical talks about science and technology to broad audiences, and particularly to teenagers, with a special interest on girls.

John Quackenbush
Professor of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, Harvard TH Chan School
AI in Medicine and Biomedical Research
Wednesday 20 October

Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Channing Division of Network Medicine of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Our capacity to generate data on human health, including in health care and biomedical research, is unparalleled in human history. The challenge we face is no longer generating such data, but in managing, analyzing, and interpreting those data. Artificial Intelligence methods have been suggested as a possible solution to the problem of massive data, but Machine Learning algorithms are not a panacea for intelligent or reproducible analysis of large health data. Making AI or any quantitative analysis of large data work requires an intelligent framing of the appropriate questions, the selection of the right tools, and the use of domain-specific knowledge to guide and validate any methods. But we also cannot lose sight of the need for our methods to be reproducible and reliable, particularly if they are to be used in setting policy or in medical decision making. This requires sharing data, providing open-source code, and free access to AI models. It is only if we commit to doing good science in an open, transparent, and falsifiable manner that we will begin to see the promises of large-scale data fulfilled.

John Quackenbush is Professor of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics and Chair of the Department of Biostatistics at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and Professor at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. John’s PhD was in Theoretical Physics, but in 1992 he received a fellowship to work on the Human Genome Project. This led him through the Salk Institute, Stanford University, and The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR), before moving to Harvard in 2005.

John’s research uses massive data to probe how many small effects combine to influence our health and risk of disease. He has published more than 300 scientific papers that have collectively been cited over 81,000 times and among his honors is recognition in 2013 as a White House Open Science Champion of Change.

In 2012, he founded Genospace, a precision medicine software company providing data platforms to hospitals, diagnostic testing labs, and other groups. In 2017, Genospace was purchased by the Hospital Corporation of America. He serves on numerous advisory boards, including those of Merck KGaA, Caris Life Sciences, and RenalytixAI.

Digital Futures facilities are located at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, KTH Campus. Postal and visiting address: Osquars Backe 5, floor 2. SE-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden.

For inquiries contact us via Email: event@digitalfutures.kth.se