t is customary to a go to a futurism conference and hear the organizers talk reverently about the future. But at Future Port Prague, Host and Founder Martin Holecko kickstarted the event with a video showing the breakthroughs in just the 12 months since last year’s FPP. If humanity is capable of such breakneck speed invention in just one year, what will 2029 look like? This was the question asked of attendees and speakers: imagine you are time-traveling to 2029—what has changed in just one decade?

Martin Holecko, Founder and Host of Future Port Prague.

"We are living in the most amazing times in human history. The rapid technological progress gives us all superpowers and opens an abundance of opportunities,” said Holecko who founded the conference and festival just three years ago.  “The big question is how do we use these new powers? Besides the exciting possibilities, this also puts a huge responsibility on our shoulders.”

The gathering is not just a celebration of innovation for the sake of innovation. Holecko created FPP to facilitate a debate on how we want to live in the near future. It is an international platform where the technology-rich future is mapped, experienced first-hand through interactive showcases, and discussed with people on the forefront of this change. And it’s the only one of its kind in Eastern and Central Europe, bringing to the international arena a part of the world often shadowed by the glitz of Silicon Valley. The region has a great deal to offer as evidenced by the array of experts and innovation showcased during the conference.

The location is also auspicious: “The beautiful historical city of Prague, a crossroad in the heart of Europe where East and West meet, seems to create a perfect backdrop for looking at and integrating multiple perspectives on the future,” said Holecko.

New products unveiled, ideas shared, all in service of collectively moving humanity forward. Here are a few of the takeaways from this year’s event.

A New Venue. This year’s events took place on the grounds of the Prague Industrial Palace, a beautiful historic Art Nouveau building in the heart of the city. In these new facilities, the festival ran concurrent to a conference focused on education, health, mobility, cities, security and many more cutting-edge topics. The exhibition grounds opened on the first day of the festival to a smaller audience of industry leaders, then to the general public on the second. These exhibitions featured radical new technologies from companies around the world, including displays on robotics, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, biotechnologies and more.

Food Innovation. Exhibitions featured the opportunity to try fully synthesized chicken meat courtesy of JUST, a plant-based food company paving the way for delicious sustainable foods. Leaders from JUST spoke on a panel on the Future of Meat, looking at ways to revolutionize the way we produce our food.

Founder of Feed A Billion Ambuj “AJ” Jain spoke on his efforts to feed the 1 in 8 people globally who struggle with food security. AJ highlighted the ways in which criminals and human traffickers can exploit the chronically hungry, leading to more human suffering. In order to build a future for the hungry, Feed A Billion coordinates with charities globally, maximizing the mileage of each dollar to ensure peak impact.

Tech for Health. Speakers at both the FPP Conference and Festival discussed new technologies that are revolutionizing the way we experience and deliver healthcare. Lenka Röhryová, cofounder of Vitadio, spoke on the way apps will act as the forefront of chronic disease treatment amidst the new wave of “digital therapeutics.” Martin Bednar of DNAnexus talked on the power of genomics data to increase quality of life and rapidly advance the field of medicine. Samuel H. Sternberg, the genetic engineer behind the revolutionary CRISPR gene-editing technology, delivered a keynote entitled “The Power to Control Evolution”. He discussed the conundrum of deciding exactly how much humanity should steer our own evolution.

The Future of Learning. Access to a quality education remains one of the greatest global challenges. The panel “The Future of Learning” featured cutting-edge leaders in education, the future of work, and more, including conference keynote speaker Yuri van Geest and our own Diplomatic Courier CEO Ana Rold. Learning Economy CEO Chris Purifoy spoke on the power of distributed ledgers to supercharge coordination and impact for education. Janet Rafner, researcher from the Center for Hybrid Intelligence and Director of Learning for ScienceAtHome, spoke on using interactive games to measure soft skills.

Final Thoughts. Future Port Prague was a look at humanity’s technology future. As global challenges continue to mount, will technological progress give us the solutions for a path forward? How will we solve world hunger? How far can gene editing take us? How far should it take us? This progress goes hand in hand with discussions on human values and the power of the human spirit.

At Future Port Prague 2019, some of the world’s greatest minds convened to map out and experience the forefront of humanity’s first steps into the future. The international platform brought broad awareness to a whole host of global topics, fostered connections between key global stakeholders, and once again served as the forefront of futurism in Europe.

Duncan Cox
Duncan is a Contributing Editor for Diplomatic Courier. Cox’s work experiences have taken him across the globe. He’s been a filmmaker in New Zealand, Japan, and the United States, and served as a cultural ambassador and educator on the island of Hokkaido, Japan.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.