Thought Leadership


Disruptive Technology: From AI to blockchain and beyond

Izzy Ashton

Deputy Editor, BITE


ignis - Disruptive Technology: From AI to blockchain and beyond
Disruptive technology in action

Do you want to be a Netflix or a Blockbuster? Was the opening question posed by PwC’s Director of Innovation & Transformation David Moloney at ignis’ Disruptive Technology evening. He was alluding to the infamous story of how, in 2000, Netflix suggested a partnership with Blockbuster and were laughed out the boardroom. The former is now worth $61 billion and counting; the latter no longer exists.

The evening focused on the differing ways in which technology is disrupting our lives, from AI, VR, blockchain and beyond. David talked us through how to distinguish between VR and AR. VR immerses the viewer in a complete environment with realistic interactions, whereas AR is not immersive, but rather adds information and improves the real world experience. Moloney described how VR technology is being used as a substitute for anaesthetic. He also revealed that while the internet revolutionised the exchange of information, Blockchain has the potential to revolutionise trust on the internet and the exchange of value on the internet.

Currently, we are seeing a move from narrow (weak) AI to general (strong) AI; the scope of what tech can do is increasing. One of the concluding questions was, when do we end up with super intelligence, when do the computers take over? People, as Amara’s Law states, tend to overestimate the effect of tech in the short run and underestimate its effect in the long run. As David pointed out however, the future is unknowable, not unthinkable.


David Moloney, Director, Innovation & Transformation, PwC

Key take outs:

  • Act now and make a bigger leap. Disruption is increasing. “In the next 10 years, 40% of Fortune 500 companies will be gone.” At the moment, the world’s most valuable companies are (nearly) all tech.
  • Own the automation debate. AI is “the study of how to make computers do things which, at the moment, people do better” Elain Rich, University of Texas. But there is some disruption we won’t see coming.
  • Focus on people, not jobs. While computers continue to surpass human ability, it is people we need to ensure we’re supporting.
  • Build a clear narrative and make no regret moves.
  • There is a tsunami of technology. “We are indexing the physical world as we index the digital world through Google.”
  • For the computers we are creating, we should build them like a brain, not a computer.


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