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LawTech Futures 2013 – on reflection

With the benefit of some time between the event and now, here are some thoughts on this year’s LawTech Futures conference and exhibition, which took place in London at the end of April. Having spoken to delegates and sponsors both at the event and subsequently, I think it is fair to say the event had the Wow! factor and delivered its promise to be the biggest and most exciting legal IT event in Europe this year.

With a full day’s schedule of keynotes, presentations and panel sessions, the event provided something for everybody, with no excuses for being bored, but still with plenty of time for networking and meeting up with exhibitors and sponsors. In fact one vendor (a major DMS supplier) said “the quality and volume of delegates was so good, we could have done with a two day event to talk to them all!”

Other comments included “this is the best legal IT event the UK has seen for many years” and “LawTech Futures joins the ILTA annual conference in the US as one of the legal IT world’s few must attend events.”

The event’s keynote Ray Kurzweil (see also video link to interview lived up to his billing as “the futurists’ futurist” by making his talk about nanotechnology and artificially enhanced human intelligence (aka the singularity) all seem remarkably plausible. As he explained, it is just the logical extension of current trends, whereby we already augment the human mind by Googling for answers to questions and information we can’t recall via smartphones.

Ray Kurzweil’s discussion of the benefits of 3D printing technology and its potential for creating a new industrial revolution that will transform manufacturing, probably generated the most comment in discussions outside the conference hall – not least the question of where will the “toner” for all these 3D printers come from? However his optimistic view that we only need to make better use of solar power* to solve most of the world’s energy problems, ended his session on a suitably high note.

Turning to the future… LawTech Futures (jointly produced by NetLaw Media and Insider editor Charles Christian) will be back in 2014 at the QEII Conference Centre again. The date will be Tuesday 25 March and planning is already underway to make the event bigger and even better. Further details will be announced over the coming weeks however another world-class futurist has already been signed as the keynote.

* Via better solar panel technology – already on its way, including versions that can be 3D printed – and placing solar energy “farms” in parts of the world where there are few people or crops growing but plenty of sunlight, such as the Sahara Desert.