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Suck the inspiration juice out of "Above All Human Conference 2016" ;)

I have heard a lot good things of "above all human" conferences. Mainly because of the diverse topics and aspects covered by various speakers who are all very successful in their fields.

I was excited to find out Susan Wu is the co-founder of above all human, who I first met as a judge in shehacks 2014. The event has a nice line up of promising topics and speakers and surely the most money worth event I’ve attended.

It was a great day outside the office, not only because I got to take a break and see the world from other people’s perspectives, stories, but also meeting many mind-liked and intelligent people at the event.

I was feeling very optimistic and excited at the end of the day and is very keen to share all the things I’ve heard and learnt with you.

So, here you go, I sketched noted the conferences with the speeches I was in (I missed a few while having a nice coffee and chat with Anne-Marie Elias who hosted refugee hack 2016).


Leni Mayo (Startup Victoria Chairman) started the conference with a speech about creating a collaborative and organic culture for innovation.

I love it when he introduced the human bubble concept and how magic would happen if we bring some unexpected skill sets and diverse perspectives together.


Philip Dalidakis (Minister for Small Business, Innovation & Trade) shared his journey and passion for small business innovation, and what role government can play to support start ups.

A lot of start ups have learnt the hard way by failing, while it is all good for great lesson, Philip mentioned about Australian culture should be the one that we help each other out when the time is difficult and celebrate the success together. I am looking forward to see more involvement and investment in start up incubator, accelerator and co-working space.


Susan Wu and Bronwen Clune (Conference Co-founders) talked about the vision and the goal of above all human conference, and really empathises on embedding humanity in innovation.

This is truely an unexpected pleasing surprise of bring various speakers from fields you may not expect in start up field, while drawing so many inspirations from parallel universe. I love the vision that ultimately technology and science is for the users.


Rod Drury (CEO of XERO) shared his story of how he built Xero empire and how start ups and government can work together to drive social changes.

It was an very interesting go to market story of Xero, considering it has done a complete reverse process, with building up a story and reputation first and launch IPO last. Rod also paint a good picture of how powerful and connected technology and data could do for small business and the government.


Ali Rayl (Director of Customer Experience at Slack) shared the story of how Slack reincarnated from Glitch, and what gamifcation really means.

We have usually heard a lot of success stories but there aren't enough stories about failure and reincarnation. Glitch has nice features such as waiting, mining and tidying. During waiting period, which happens a lot in real life, users are encouraged to do something else. When mining, users are encouraged to use all the resources they have to complete the task and of course, tidying is to make things organised. It was a great learning from Ali about the essence of infinite play can be transformed into Slack. One thing I like particularly is about when you give people genuine reward. Giving away points and high fives easily without users feeling taking the efforts is not really going to justify the value of rewards and demotivate users on the whole gamification mechanism.


Katie Mack (Theoretical astrophysicist) blew our minds with an speech of what vacuum decay means and looks like, in a simple and understandable way.

When studying universe and dark matter, it may make us humans feeling powerless and small, and you may also ask wouldn't it better if we use the money to solve world hunger. The answer to that question lies in the beauty of human nature: curiosity and thirst for knowledge. This is what drives humanity and civilisation, which derived more innovation to solve somehow seems unrelated issues.


Dr Stewart Condon (President of Médecins Sans Frontières, Australia) shared 3 great stories and examples of how innovation can save people's lives, while inspiring people to learn how to respond to crisis and scale up the operation in startup environment.

Again, it just highlighted let's innovate and solve the social problems than solving the problems for the top 5% of people in the world.


Mike Monteiro (Co-founder of Mule) talked about how a good designer is brew and what is a good designer. This is probably my favourite topic, not only because of his humorous style, but also the provoking message on being a good leader and a good teacher to make design more profound.

I love the story he tells that when a business is expanding and craving for a large amount of designers, it doesn't mean you just get the numbers and stop caring about their individual development needs. If you are not developing the acquired designers, you are essentially treating them as sea monkeys and it is not long before you start looking for a new batch of "sea monkeys" to meet your design expansion. What a good company should do is to attract talents and train the "fresh meat" with all the skills and experience they need, in order to pick the right fight ahead of them, in order to advocate design to challenge and solve better problems in the world. And to make that happen, we need a lot of good designers passing their knowledges and coach the new people.


Martin Hosking (CEO of Redbubble) shared his thoughts on how to define a market and what is a right product when you becomes your 1st customer.


Kathryn North (Director and CEO of Murdoch Childrens Research Institute) brought some promising and exciting news of what our future lies in genomics and bioinformatics.

This opens up a lot of possibilities in the future. geno science only works if there are a lot of data to compare with. Imagine in the future, we can truly understand our own genes and be prepared and informed with what we need. We can start prevention as early as prenatal screening: analysing mom-to-be genes by seperating the baby's gene out, using non-invasive geno testing. We can prevent disease before it develops, we can have early diagnosis, early intervention and monitoring, and when every prevention is exhausted, we can at least provide targeted therapy.


Mikell Taylor (Systems engineer and robotics geek) brought up really valid points around Robots and how we could stage the use of this technology to shape the right perspectives of it.

We have seen many kickstarters or startup examples where people tend to paint a nice picture and provide an "open-source" platform for other people to race for the finish line. It may work well for developer community, such as google map API or Apple iTunes store. However, let's not forget a lot of design in engineering and robotic space is for the practical use and the market is for consumers with "out-of-the-box ready-to-use" mindset.

So let's make sure we don't just build a robot that looks like a human but does nothing useful. Let's stop calling them drone, instead, let's call them flying camera or whatever it actually does. Let's try to achieve baby steps and get it done 1 job well before we say the robot can do everything from mowing your lawn, walking the dog, to cleaning the dishes. Let's focus on the speciality rather than generalisation before we hit it with robotic fatigue (similar fatigue of talking about big data to do everything and ruin the magic attraction of the word “big data”)


Anil Dash (Co-founder and CEO of Thinkup) talks about his own experience of online community between 10 years ago and now, and how each of us can contribute to stop online abuse.

It is a sad story that 10 years ago he can find best friends online and get a career via the channel, while now there are so many nasty comments online that hindered the merits of online community.

It is an interesting concept that he brought up about persistent identities. It is not against anonymous, because there are people still acting badly in real life. What it means is to have a consistent profile in the same channel. for example, you may have different personas on facebook and on a dating site, however, the persistent identity should be easily linked and traced back so people can go back to see what this person have said in the past on this channel.

I hope you enjoyed my summary and let me know which topics interest you and your thoughts on them.

#aboveallhuman #innovation #startup

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