Tech and the Humans – PauseFest Keynotes

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“The future of immersive media is the future of computation”

Monika Bielskyte, Creative Director and Strategist at Kenzo Digital Media on Virtual Reality.

Monika Bielskyte at PauseFest

Monika’s keynote was equal parts visionary and cautionary, leaving the audience both excited and fearful for the future of immersive media.

There were a few calls at PauseFest for the VR industry and community to hold high ideals for what we should look to achieve with this technology. There is such an amazing opportunity to do good rather than evil. The aspect of machine interaction, facilitation and improvement of humanistic tasks was a strong theme amongst the technological speak.


Fast-forward 5 years and Monika asserts we will be living close to a future without screens. Once Immersive media devices become lightweight enough, they will replace our current devices and dissolve into the reality around us. Heads up displays that we’re used to within the realms of first person shooter video games, will become an everyday reality.

Not only will this have implications for experiential entertainment, but far beyond that. How we approach our work will be revolutionised, as well as how we conduct our relationships with others. All of this technological advancement raises questions such as:

  • How much of the physical world will we be prepared to replace with digital?
  • How much of our data and information will we be willing to provide to the virtual world?

“VR is an experience that requires trust”


Black Mirror is an excellent cautionary tale for what could go wrong if humanitarian ideals are not elevated to inform our decisions on this technology. Shows like Black Mirror are important as we need to imagine and hypothesise what could go wrong, so as to avoid it.

“Technological innovation without humanitarian evolution is a recipe for a dystopia”

Monika talked about the impact of what we hear and what we see. She drew reference to the election of Donald Trump to illustrate the extreme power that a compelling communicator can have over people. What would happen if we added compelling immersive media into this context? It is important for us to think about.

However, despite the potential for bleakness, Monika is extremely passionate about and hopeful for, the future of immersive media. She asks us to hold our ideals high, put humanity at the centre and pave the way for a positive future, because the possibilities are amazing:

“When we see ‘internet of things’, let’s make is an internet of Beings. When we see ‘virtual reality’, let’s make it a shared reality. When we see ‘machine learning’, let’s make it collaborative learning. When we see ‘user experience’, let’s make it about human experience. When we hear ‘the singularity is near’, let us remember, the plurality is here.

Inspiring stuff.


 This presented by Niklas Zillinger. Another people vs. tech quagmire interestingly around help vs. hindrance. The hype around Chatbots is as high as it has ever been, even the pope is now scaling his services via a chatbot. In reality, Chatbots today are at the same stage websites were in the 90s – most suck right now.

Niklas Zillinger at PauseFest

A super important thing for bot builders to consider, is are they building their bot as a tool, or as an assistant? Assistants, referencing themselves with first-person pronouns take a perception of control away from humans. Leveraging bots as a tool, without a personality, can keep the feeling of control with humans, which is proving important in the bot world.


There is a movement toward facilitating conversations between humans rather than hosting conversations with a bot.

An example of a successful bot and one which points to where the future may be heading, is Uber’s bot integration with Facebook messenger. The bot notices in your conversation with a friend, that you need a lift somewhere, it offers you a lift, and you can book a ride without leaving the context of the conversation.

So with all this hype and all these possibilities, how does your company actually go about applying AI and bots? A good place to start is the machine learning canvas. But most importantly, you need to start facilitating conversations with your team around what data you have available. Bots cannot thrive without rich datasets to draw from. Your data will have a huge bearing on your ability to build and leverage AI and bot technology.

It is also important to keep in mind that with the technology in its infancy, it will be a few years before bots are both accessible and sophisticated enough, to consistently add value to your relationships with customers. The industry is still working out what humans respond to positively and there is some risk that bots and AI will just frustrate your users. So be sure to keep a watchful eye on the space make sure you’re fully prepared before outsourcing your customer conversations to AI.

Thanks for sourcing such interesting speakers for these immersive topics PauseFest!