The Playlist

Scott David / World Economic Forum

Scott David

— A smart list of startups, companies, people, places and more.

We spoke to the Director Head of Information Interaction at World Economic Forum, Scott David, to delve into some of the literature, technology, companies and people which inspire him today.




This is not so much a technology, as an inter-related cluster of technologies. We can think of it as replicating and scaling the analysis and knowledge work that people perform. In return we get this machine intelligence as a tool to improve our work. The result is faster diagnosis of illnesses, new kinds of research, better understanding of complex issues, and business analytics we hadn’t imagined before. IBM Watson is currently the best at marketing this concept and how it can benefit humanity.



Graph Databases

Our databases are structured to suit the purpose we need them for. As the world becomes hyper-connected, so do our databases. Graph databases power Google search, Facebook’s social network, LinkedIn, and supply chain network analysis. They will become used by the mainstream and not just by the unicorns. The leading vendor is currently Neo4j.



Knowledge Graphs and Systems Mapping

As we increasingly model our knowledge and our world, we need technologies like graph databases that are aligned with the way we think and use language - in people, places, objects and complex inter-relationships. Getting our knowledge and processes out of our heads and into connected data will reinvent organisations, and allow us to better understand and solve complex problems.



Natural Language Processing and Conversational UIs

The heart of a lot of AI is, obviously, an ability for machines to understand what we’re saying or asking, and about what. The more human-centred this technology becomes, the more it can seamlessly help us to perform tasks, and the more it can use voice only interaction, becoming an ambient intelligence.



React and its development ecosystem

Talented developers have flocked to React and the frameworks and toolchains that surround it. It originated at Facebook, who needed to solve the problem of information rich, ever changing, social content. It has helped to turn the web into an app. As the front-end user interface technology to the AI revolution its rapidly evolving.





In its 11 years, Neo4j has gone from a niche database tool with passionate developers who believe in its future, to one of the key engines for the AI and Cognitive revolution.



Startup Genome

For innovation and entrepreneurship to succeed, from startups to cities, we need data to measure progress and help with policy creation. Startup Genome are leading this area of activity with a rich survey-driven global data set and consulting.




The team that created Apple’s Siri want conversational UIs and mapped-out processes to be available to all as a platform service. This lets people talk to machines, machines to talk to other machines, and businesses to interconnect through common process descriptions.




Blockchain is the flavour of the month, and much misunderstood as a panacea for bad supply chain and contract management. Provenance are one of the few with beautiful clarity in their vision and product for this technology.




As they say on their website, “location is built into the fabric of our daily experiences”. This super-talented group of people first built the World Bank’s data portal before realising the power of the mapping tools they’d built, and focusing on that. As well as an incredible mapping service, they are rethinking mapping from the user experience perspective of time.




New Power - Jeremy Heimans

Since his TED talk in 2014, Jeremy Heimans has evolved his concept of New Power to explicitly include hyperconnectivity. It was always implicit. Making it more explicit in his recent book highlights the breadth of societal and workplace changes under way. Network effects mobilise us around common causes, and bring new expectations for participation in workplace decision making.



Wittgenstein - Ray Monk

The philosophy of language, and how propositions represent our world, is fundamental to the Cognitive technologies and Natural Language Processing that we are now creating. Whilst this fascinated me as a student of philosophy, this biography is an incredible portrait of a man obsessed with converting the world into a language algorithm, and then pivoting to embrace its messy reality.


Scott David
Scott David

Director, Head of Information Interaction at World Economic Forum

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