Takeaways From Digital-Life-Design 2024 | Brunswick Group

Takeaways From Digital-Life-Design 2024

AI, Sustainability, and Europe’s Race to Lead on Climate

In the relentless pursuit of staying ahead in today's dynamic business landscape, there's one event that stands out as catalyst for transformation – the Digital-Life-Design (DLD) conference. The gathering is a powerhouse of global leaders, cutting-edge entrepreneurs and forward-thinking creatives converging to decode the future in real time.

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Why DLD?

Unlike traditional gatherings, DLD isn't bound by industry silos; it's at the crossroads of technology, business and culture. The conference is a direct dive into the forefront of innovation, and presents tangible opportunities for growth and transformation to unfold. The annual conference in Munich each January, shortly before the World Economic Forum begins in Davos, is internationally renowned in the world of digital.

AI in everything

This year’s conference was clearly dominated by artificial intelligence, or AI. At DLD, the "doomers” – those who consider AI mainly a threat – were clearly in the minority, but even the biggest proponents agree that AI needs guardrails to mitigate the risks:

  • Deepfakes, algorithmic biases, plagiarism – there is no quick fix for these problems.
  • The quantity and quality of training data limit the performance of large language models.
  • Development requires supercomputing power, which is expensive and limits the number of players.

Speakers from the EU institutions at DLD were confident that they have created a regulatory "gold standard" with their risk-based approach in the first legislative framework – the AI Act. However, AI stars such as Jonas Andrulis from Aleph Alpha fear that Europe is once again leading the way in regulation rather than innovation – strengthening the dominant position of US tech companies while talking about European digital sovereignty. Nevertheless, industry representatives such as Claudia Nemat, CTO of Deutsche Telekom, called for optimism: “Don't let German angst ruin the huge benefits that responsible AI use can bring.”

Sustainability and the race to green leadership

Sustainability was the second key issue dominating DLD discussions:

  • There is no climate neutrality without digitalization.
  • The fight against climate change requires smart solutions in all sectors – from automotive to energy.
  • Decarbonizing industry is mission critical to achieve net zero, said bestselling author Michael Sterner.
  • Despite the challenges that growing data traffic and AI pose for energy consumption, digitalization seems to be more part of the solution rather than the problem.
  • It’s not just about saving the planet: it’s a trillion-dollar business opportunity.

With the European Green Deal, the EU is set to be the first climate-neutral continent in the world. The legal framework is intended to be an engine for growth that promotes innovation in green technologies, from green hydrogen to electrification and carbon capture.

But what seems like a no-brainer in theory is proving to be much more complex in reality: The race for leadership in green technology is becoming a geopolitical issue. The US has attracted a lot of green technology innovation with the huge subsidies under the Inflation Reduction Act. And dependence on critical raw materials, especially from Asia, is limiting Europe's innovative strength and hangs over the EU's green transition.

The role of Europe

It was clear at DLD that geopolitics is also becoming increasingly important in the field of technology. Digital sovereignty remains at the top of the political agenda in Berlin and Brussels. And Brussels legislation is decisive in determining whether the EU can keep up in the global race for leadership in key technologies. It came as no surprise that DLD organizer Steffi Czerny wants to hold another DLD in Brussels this year given it’s the year of the European elections: "We need to strengthen Europe.”

As the digital landscape continues to reshape industries, the DLD conference emerges as a dynamic platform where the forefront of innovation is not just discussed but actively shaped.

To continue the conversation

Anja Ingenrieth
Partner, Berlin
[email protected]

Marie-Christine Knop
Associate, Berlin
[email protected]

Lea Albat
Executive, Munich
[email protected]

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