IP Expo 2018: Things will never be this slow again

News by Tony Morbin

IP Expo Europe kicked off today with an inspirational presentation from astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield, whose primary message was: "Impossible things happen - on a regular basis."

Embrace change, because it’s accelerating, and shape it to achieve your ambitions – while preparing to overcome inevitable failures along the way.

That’s according to astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield speaking at IPExpo 2018 today.

IP Expo Europe kicked off today with an inspirational presentation from astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield, whose primary message was: "Impossible things happen – on a regular basis."

But while Hadfield was echoing the Audi slogan of Vorsprung Durch Technik (progress through technology), he acknowledged that things do go wrong, that in order to change things we need to be willing to push technology and that such change carries risk, but that our relentless ability to invent is what drives progress, so we prepare for all the things that we think might go wrong.

While we strive for our perfect vision, we have to have thought about the problems beforehand, visualised that failure and practiced to build our competence. "We need to be relentlessly dissatisfied with our expertise," because the rate of change is accelerating and "Things will never be this slow again."

In fact he suggested that early failure was a better teacher than early success, which was liable to engender unrealistic confidence.

Apart from being good life lessons, the advice is clearly applicable to cyber-security, where the adversaries can sometimes appear overwhelming - but through diligent application of talent, with both a big picture a positive future, and a willingness to tackle the nitty gritty problems we face along the way, the future can indeed be better than today.

There will be those who might be quick to criticise a presentation in praise of those phallic symbols of masculine power and achievement, burning tons of fuel - and dollars - per second, harking back to the 60s optimism of all things being possible in a near future that would be so infinitely better than now.  

However, as Hadfield says, he was born before man had gone into space and for a child to dream of doing so, then achieve that dream – or US President Kennedy to declare the US would put a man on the moon within the decade when the country had 15 minutes experience of manned space-flight – demonstrated that the impossible is possible.

Talking to Hadfield after his presentation, he told SC Media UK, "No, I don’t get why some people are so negative about the future.  We should be optimistic," noting humanity’s progress, as the best fed, best educated, best health and longevity we’ve ever had.

As a test pilot, and indeed an astronaut on the launch pad strapped to a colossal bomb, Hadfield clearly has a high risk appetite, but his infectious optimism for the future and our ability to overcome any problem provided a good counterpoint to a cyber-security show delivering unrelenting warnings about the dangers we face online.

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