Nell Watson is an engineer, entrepreneur, and futurist thinker who grew up in Northern Ireland. She has a longstanding interest in the philosophy of technology, and how extensions of human capacity drive emerging social trends.
Nell lectures globally on Machine Intelligence, AI philosophy, Human-Machine relations, and the Future of Human Society, serving as Associate Faculty at Singularity University and a member of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT.
She has had an unusual career, including teaching post-grad Computer Science at the age of 24, and later co-founding a successful Graffiti arts company. Her ability to bridge the world of technology and the Humanities makes it easy for her to translate complex subjects so that they can be clearly understood.
In 2010 Nell founded Poikos (now QuantaCorp), a machine learning-driven ‘AI for for body measurement’. Nell’s patented technology ‘dematerialises’ the 3D body scanner, by providing accurate 3D scans of the body with only 2D camera hardware, such as that found within smartphones, or laptops. This may then be applied to a range of markets, such as mass customisation, and health.
Possessing a long-term mindset, Nell serves as Senior Advisor to The Future Society at Harvard, as well as serving as an advisory technologist to several startups, accelerators, and venture capital funds.
She is also Co-Founder of OpenEth, an ‘ethical explication engine’ that aims to crowdsource ethical heuristics for autonomous systems.
In her spare time Nell enjoys coding games, such as her startup life simulator, Founder Life. Founder Life attempts to teach the mindfulness and psychological habits necessary for entrepreneurs to consistently execute under pressure. She has also written two easily digestible books on philosophy – one for business leaders, and one aimed at children.
The content was quite provocative, which is what I had wanted. Her slides were beautiful. And her delivery was flawless. It was so obvious how much time she put into it and how much pride she takes in what she does. And audience feedback has been extremely positive. I would not hesitate to recommend her. She’s a pro!
— Kate Hawley, TEDxSonomaCounty (California)
Some of her presentation topics:
MAKING THE MOST OF MACHINE INTELLIGENCE
Machine Intelligence is an incredible new utility that our society can tap into at will, in a revolution that we haven’t seen since electrification. Explore how every sector of our economy is being affected by this change, and grasp how big data is driving this process. Understand how you can make the most of these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and how these forces are shaping the future of our humanity.
Intelligent machines are beginning to understand the needs, drives, and even values of humanity, with huge opportunities for each of our lives and our global society. Robotic counsellors offer an opportunity for everyone to gain access to the critical resource that is talking therapies. This is quite an expensive treatment, and isn’t covered well by insurance. As we can now democratise access to talking therapies, we might enjoy a much more mentally healthy society as a result. How can we retain our humanity, whilst growing past our greatest weaknesses?
As we delegate more of our commercial decisions to machines, we are creating a new layer of smart economic agents, and a new ‘machine demographic’ to market to. Aristocrats once enjoyed butlers to care for their personal needs without needing to be asked, as well as managers to take care of their estates. Something similar is coming to every one of us, as machines find clever ways to make us happiest and healthiest we can be, given a certain budget. Enabled by blockchain technologies, economic agents will add a third layer to the web. Appealing to machines may soon make more sense from a marketing perspective than appealing to humans.
The emerging field of machine ethics offers a revolution in how ethical analyses and transactions can occur. By making ethical decisions computable, we can give a sense of morality to machine intelligence, such as autonomous vehicles and personal assistants. Learn how we can best program these fuzzy aspects of ‘humanity’ into machine intelligence, in a way which respects differences of opinion and creeds, and yet provides adequate protection for humans and machines.
Our global society is experiencing an immense shift: Entire industries once considered ‘bricks and mortar’, such as taxi rides and hotel rooms, are being transformed into digital powerhouses. Physical objects are becoming dematerialised, democratised, and dynamically distributed to all, at ever decreasing costs, and incredible value. Understanding the vast, disruptive power of exponential factors, and how to make effective use of them to amplify ones’ activities, is the fundamental key skill for enjoying massive business, technical, and societal success this century.
A smarter, kinder, and trustworthy way to build a better world. This talk explores the latest developments in Machine Intelligence, Blockchain, and the emerging discipline of Machine Ethics. The confluence of these three domains is creating revolutionary new ways of organising society, and building trust between individuals and institutions. This can enable a massive increase in global human wellbeing in the coming decade – if we get it right.
Showreel Nell Watson, January 2018
Nell at The Next Web, 2016
Nell Watson IOP Presentation NYC, 2016
Nell at TEDxSonomaCounty (California)
Nell at The Media Evolution Conference Malmö, 2014