BOLDTalks 2014 – Inspiring, Intriguing and Enthralling

boldtalks 2014
boldtalks 2014
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Inspiring. Intriguing. Enthralling – Those would be the ideal adjectives to describe today’s BOLDTalks event held at DUCTAC in the Mall of the Emirates, Dubai.

What is BOLDTalks

BOLDtalks are series of events that host a selection of acclaimed international speakers that present on a range of diversified discussions.

Moderator’s Opening Remarks – The urgent versus the important – by Paul Godfrey

Paul Godfrey is arguably one of the top moderators in Dubai. Apart from asking intriguing questions to the speaker at the end of the talk, he often politely asks the speaker to extend the speech especially when the topic is so exciting.

Actually, have to quite agree with @naghami!

In his keynote opening remarks, Paul Godfrey said that one of the greatest barriers to ‘quantum leap’ progress is the clash between the urgent and the important. We spend our lives firefighting apparently vital trivia, never getting the chance to address the actions that would truly make a major difference. While we see this most clearly in our business lives – ‘no-one ever got rich by dealing with 500 e-mails a day’ – it’s true for every area of human enterprise. Paul argues that the breakthroughs we learn about today were all the products of taking a step back and looking at the wider picture – understanding what really matters, and acting accordingly.

Humans, Robots, Social Nets, and Collective Intelligence – by Dr. Nikolaos Mavridis

Dr. Nikolaos’ talk took us into the brief history of embodied intelligence in our planet, natural vs. artificial and individual vs. collective intelligence, before showcasing number of examples of human-machine interaction, and further examining systems that aim to increase participation and harness the collective mind towards participatory governance.

Armed with a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Dr. Nikolaos has taught, written about, designed, and built Intelligent Systems, Robots, and systems exhibiting Collective Intelligence, since his early youth, having served as faculty at NYU and NCSR Demokritos. He is the founder of IRML (the Interactive Robots and Media Lab), which achieved wide publicity for “Ibn Sina”, the world’s first Arabic-Language Android Robot, as well as “FaceBots”, Microsoft-award-recipient Social Robots which access info and publish on FaceBook. Furthermore, he has designed and operated the hybrid physical/electronic participation workshops of Recreate Hellas, which he presented at the Council of Europe, and is currently researching further hybrid social platforms that aim to bring forth the future of Participatory Tech, enabling widely accepted yet highly informed and effective multi-level governance.

Detecting pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancer in 5 minutes for 3 cents – by Jack Andraka

After listening to Jack, we realize sometimes you don’t have to be a ‘grown up’ to change the world!

Jack Andraka is a Maryland high school student who at age 15 created a novel paper sensor that detects pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancer 168 times faster, 400 times more sensitive, and 26,000 times less expensive than the medical standard. Jack conducted his research at Johns Hopkins University and is the winner of the Gordon E. Moore award at Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and the Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award and was Mrs. Obama’s guest at the State of the Union Address. He was named a Champion of Change by President Obama for his work to break down scientific journal paywalls. VIDEO:  Here’s the story of Jack who, after losing his uncle to pancreatic cancer, invented an early detection method for cancer that won Grand Prize at the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).

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He has spoken at TED Long Beach, over 11 TEDx events including the House of Parliament, is the youngest speaker at the Royal Society of Medicine and has been featured on 60 Minutes, World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer, NPR Marketplace, Popular Science, BBC, and Al Jazeera as well as in award winning documentaries including “You Don’t know Jack” by Morgan Spurlock. Jack is currently working with a team of teens (Gen Z) on the Qualcomm Foundation Tricorder X Prize and speaks about open access, STEM education and universal Internet availability.

He is also on the national junior wildwater kayaking team, has won awards at multiple national and international math competitions.

Li-Fi, the new Wi-Fi – by Harald Haas

The new breakthrough technology in transmitting data through light, opposed to radio frequency. This talk is by the man behind this invention that will soon replace Wi Fi as we know it.

Professor Harald Haas has pioneered and coined ‘Li-Fi’. Li-Fi uses off-the-shelf light emitting diodes (LEDs) to enable light fixtures to illuminate and at the same time provide high speed wireless networking using the unlicensed and vast amount of visible light spectrum.

Harald clarified on some of the misconceptions about Li-Fi:


Professor Hass currently holds 23 patents and has published 250 conference and journal papers. Prof Haas was an invited speaker at TED Global 2011 where he presented ’Li-Fi’ for the first time to the public. Subsequently, Li-Fifeatured in international press such as the New York Times, Wired UK as well as international broadcast media such as BBC and CNN International. TIME Magazine listed ‘Li-Fi’ among the 50 best inventions in their November 2011 issue. In 2012 he was awarded the prestigious Established Career Fellowship from the EPSRC. He is co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of the University of Edinburgh spin-out company, pureVLC Ltd.

Accenture Development Partnerships: Corporate Innovation and the Social Intrapreneur – by James Arnott

Accenture Development Partnerships (ADP) aims to have a catalytic impact on social and economic development by providing access to Accenture’s people, knowledge, assets and global network; providing market-based solutions, new technologies and an ability to broker partnerships between the public, private and non-profit sectors.

Through an innovative operating model, Accenture is making a conscious commitment to partnership, citizenship and to creating long-term shared value for itself, the international development sector and communities around the world. ADP represents a sound example of Corporate Innovation and—based on its own journey and unique position at the nexus of all sectors—aims to play a bigger role as a strong catalyst for “Social Intrapreneurs”.

The Story of Qasr Al Husn – by Dr. Reem El Mutwalli

Not many people can say they held the keys to Qasr Al Husn, but Dr. Reem Tariq El Mutwalli had them for two decades. Dr. El Mutwalli will speak on the basic architectural elements of the old fort, highlight various historic and architectural stages of the building and narrate certain aspects of the lives of those who inhabited it, and reflect on the special decorative details of the building.

After conducting a full survey on all of Abu Dhabi’s forts as part of her master’s degree in Islamic art, architecture and archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, Dr. El Mutwalli published the first architectural survey on the fort, Qasr Al Hosn, in 1995 (3rd edition 2014).

She went on to obtain her Ph.D. from the same university, in Islamic Art and Archeology, and publish three more books. Each book stands for something she is passionate about with a unique attention to detail, design and execution. In her most recent book, she discusses philanthropy — giving back with innovation.

Dr. El Mutwalli, who describes herself as “Iraqi in birth, western in education and upbringing, Arab in spirit and Emirati in my passion”, came to the UAE at the age of 5 when her father was appointed economic consultant to Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who was Crown Prince at the time. She was one of the founders of the Cultural Foundation, that served as the beacon of culture & art in Abu Dhabi up to the millennium.

An artist, designer, historian and author she continues to act as a consultant & develop a wide array of projects related to her field & expertise.

When Christo met Madiba – by Christo Brand

An incredible talk by Christo Brand, Nelson Mandela’s prison guard, on their unlikely relationship that turned into a lifetime friendship.

Christo Brand was 19 when he came to Robben Island, a new recruit from the South African prison service.

He was assigned to B Section where political prisoners, all the high command of the notorious ANC, were kept in maximum security.

He expected to find hostile broken outcasts. Instead he met honourable men bonded by their deep devotion to freedom in their country. Men who were courteous to the wardens as well as each other, whose only wish was to study hard and be ready for government one day. Men led by the towering figure of Nelson Mandela, a calm disciplined and dignified man who treated Christo with respect and humanity.

Mandela showed concern for Christo and his family. They talked as equals yet Christo’s job meant he had to supervise Mandela scrubbing floors and emptying toilet buckets.

They worked together on a little garden Mandela cherished in the prison courtyard. Both men from farming communities, they grew aubergines and tomatoes and talked about mealies.

The spark of friendship grew to a flame as Mandela was first transferred to the mainland – Christo went with him – and gradually made approaches to the apartheid government. Christo took him on secret outings for talks with the Minister of Justice, and saw the older man’s wonderment at his surroundings outside the prison environment where he had spent 27 years.

Mandela maintained his friendship with the warder after his release, giving him a job in Parliament. He befriended Christo’s elder son and offered him a scholarship and help with his career. He invited Christo to every special event – his birthday parties and other celebrations.

When Mandela died Christo was among very few whites to be invited to his funeral with the family.


BOLDtalks through artist’s eyes – by Farah Nasrawi

Farah Nasrawi, joins BOLDtalks 2014 to paint some of the talks live on stage as they are being presented. The completed painting will be donated to Palestine Children’s Relief Fund.

Farah Nasrawi is a UAE based artist and interior designer, graduated from the American University of Sharjah.

She is currently pursuing her artistic flair in painting and upcycling everyday objects. She is known for her love of vivacious colours in her work, as she explores her different mind-sets in dealing with the human condition around her. Her dynamic style ranges from realism to abstraction, which always gives her an enthralling experience in the making of her work.

A free-spirit and an advocate for love and peace, she strives to incorporate social responsibility through her work.


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