The SCL Conference on 8 June will feature keynotes that will add real value and do a lot more than prop up the intervening sessions. Laurence Eastham urges you not to neglect them.
You have booked a Conference place, but you are busy. The temptation to deal with a few emails, organise the underlings (not the term you use in their hearing) or even snatch a slice of what you laughingly call your life can easily lead you to skip the opening keynote. The deadline that looms at the end of the day and the need to check on those underlings can tempt you to skip that final keynote. After all, you think, the keynotes are just the flashy bookends and the real knowledge value is in the sessions.
Well, there may be times when the flashy bookends theory is true. The SCL Conference on 8 June isn’t one of those times.
The SCL Annual Conference title is ‘Real Business Issues for Tech Lawyers’ and the opening keynote from Alex Depledge MBE will focus on ‘Real Business’. Alex is an extraordinarily successful entrepreneur and businesswoman. She is the co-founder and former CEO of Hassle.com, a company which focused on domestic cleaning, built a valuable brand and was eventually sold for £24million (leaving many of us wondering why we hadn’t thought of that). Since selling Hassle.com, she has gone on to start a new venture, Buildpath, which simplifies planning issues and provides online architectural services. She has learned a lot about the way in which law and enterprise interact and, sometimes, uncomfortably collide. If she shares just some of those lessons, your time in attending the keynote will be well rewarded.
Alex has views on how the UK measures up against the dominance of Silicon Valley, the threats and opportunities automation and AI offer, including the future for workplaces and workforces and might well be tempted to share her views on women in technology and the sharing and gig economy. That all adds up to a keynote that is not to be missed.
The closing keynote from tech law visionary Professor Andrea M Matwyshyn will make your flesh run cold. Her insights into the Internet of Bodies sound like something from science fiction but it is a fiction turned reality. The US Federal Drug Administration has already approved the first digital pills and the first IoB pancreas, and other early IoB technologies are already in widespread use. Malfunctioning IoB pacemakers, cochlear implants, and deep brain stimulation chips have resulted in the first generation of IoB controversies in both the EU and USA. How do you balance bodily integrity/consumer protection interests on the one hand and intellectual property/data collection interests on the other? Just one question among a host that Andrea will address – and which point towards solution that go beyond the IoB and reach into all manner of incoming legal dilemmas. Since Andrea is a Professor at Northeastern University and has close links with Stanford and Princeton, she will be able to give an international perspective that might encourage us to look up from the EU-based data protection obsession.
You may find yourself debating the issues long after Andrea has finished her keynote, and may be glad of the closing Conference drinks to soothe some of the anxiety her talk is likely to engender.