This is part of our ‘Meet Our Delegates’ series where we introduce you to social scientists and technologists who are attending the conference.
MEET GWEN EDWARDS
Gwen, you’re a Marketing Director and you’ve worked in the tech industry for a long time. You did your BSc at Brunel, studying Materials Technology with Management. What a fascinating degree! You began your career working for a global engineering group, GKN, and then you spent about 15 years in telecoms working for Orange and then Safran. Most recently you worked for XMOS as their Director of Product Marketing and Partnerships, and now you’ve taken the bold step of going solo. What are your career highlights and what makes you so passionate about tech?
Thanks Dawn! I’m lucky to have worked on a lot of different projects. One of my early projects was in returnable transit packaging for retail stores; the black potato boxes on wheels I worked on 20 years ago are still in use today. At Orange, I was part of the team who launched the first Java SIM cards, 3G, and BlackBerry for consumer. I’ve also been lucky to have worked on technology as diverse as NFC, digital ID and most recently, voice interfaces.
I think at the heart of all of this has been curiosity, solving problems creatively, and working together to bring new solutions to market.
With many new technologies the focus tends to be on what the technology can do…with AI we also need to consider what it should be used for…what are the broader impacts we need to address? And how can we anticipate the indirect interaction of one AI decision on another across society?
Why are you excited to attend the conference and what do you hope to get from attending?
I’m really looking forward to finding out more about how the implementation of AI across so many different applications is being considered and thought about. With many new technologies the focus tends to be on what the technology can do, and the business case often follows later. With AI more than ever we also need to consider what it should be used for. The capability and business case are there, but what are the broader impacts we need to address? And how can we anticipate the indirect interaction of one AI decision on another across society?
In your opinion, why do you think other marketing folk should attend the conference?
Well, I guess I would start with “what’s marketing”? Simplistically, it aims to influence (ideally, convince) people about something, whether that’s a purchase, or a vote, or a behaviour…marketing has always tried to manipulate you! Anthropology has helped understand these behaviours and influences; but what happens when the influence is not generated by another person?
As individuals we are already experiencing the impact AI is having on influences and opinions, and the decisions about what we are offered and exposed to. Discovery is important to me, and as a marketeer I want to understand more about this.
As a society, we need to understand the new opportunities as well as biases and risks.
As a society, we need to understand the new opportunities as well as biases and risks. We are seeing ever more blurred boundaries between reality and perception – can marketing shake off the “dark arts” and help society differentiate between fact and opinion, and address ethical decisions about how we use new tools? I am looking forward to learning from experts with deep knowledge in their field, and contributing to the conversation.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us or say?
I’m really excited that this conference is being hosted in Bristol. It’s a city that buzzes with companies large and small working in tech, and has a huge creative industry. This diversity means that there are already a lot of inter-disciplinary conversations here, and that’s really key to both society and AI as they develop together.
Thanks Gwen, we look forward to meeting you in October!