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Ready for the Digital Future?

Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, self-driving cars, robots, and the Internet of Things are a mainstay in the news, but are we ready for the digital future? Do we have the necessary skills to take full advantage of new technologies?

Digital transformation is a multi-disciplinary topic—perhaps one of the most complex and confusing of our time. The purpose of this film is to make digital transformation easier to understand and start a conversation about what kind of digital future we actually want. Is the future complicated and inevitable, or can each of us create the future they envision? Technology is a curse and a blessing, but this depends on each of us thinking about the future in a constructive but critical way. 

Digital Transformation: The Film

Digital Transformation: Visions of Nations, Companies, and People builds on interviews with visionaries, futurists, scientists, entrepreneurs, politicians, artists, authors, and others around the world who speak about their views and hopes for the future. The interview series began in March 2017, and the documentary film begins streaming in March 2018 on YouTube.

This film encourages the conversation about what kind of future we actually want. Technology offers nations, companies, and people amazing tools for good. Many of them are useful, others we are free to reject. If we use these tools in a responsible way, the future isn’t inevitable, it is what we make it.

A Film by Manuel Stagars

Manuel Stagars was born and raised in Zurich, Switzerland. He is an economist, film director, author, and serial entrepreneur with twenty years of experience in consulting and startups in Switzerland, the United States, Japan, and Singapore. His current film projects focus on the potential of technology for the economies of nations, societies, and the lives of people around the world.

His recent films include FinTech Made in Switzerland (2016) and The Blockchain and Us (2017), both of which received accolades internationally. Digital Transformation builds on Manuel’s research and global professional networks in different parts of the world.

Manuel has published books and scientific articles on startups, marketplace lending, impact investing, data quality, and Open Data. He has a degree in economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and several financial certifications (CFA, CAIA, ERP). Read longer bio on www.manuelstagars.com.

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Interviews from the Film

Digital Transformation is in production at this moment. New video interviews take place until the end of 2017 and go live regularly. The first interviews go live in May 2017.

Interview Partners

Many thanks to all conversation partners. This list constantly updates as the project continues (list in alphabetical order).

Nichol Bradford
Executive Director of the Transformative Technology Lab (TTL), Sofia University, www.transtechlab.org
CEO & Founder, Willow Group
Silicon Valley, United States

Heather Desurvire
User & Player Experience Principal, User Behavioristics, www.userbehavioristics.com
Los Angeles, United States

David Edgerton
Hans Rausing Professor of the History of Science and Technology and Professor of Modern British History, King’s College, www.kcl.ac.uk
London, UK

Martin Ford
Author, Keynote Speaker, Futurist, Software Developer/Entrepreneur, www.econfuture.wordpress.com/about
Silicon Valley, United States

Mirta Galesic
Professor and Cowan Chair in Human Social Dynamics at the Santa Fe Institute, www.santafe.edu/people/profile/mirta-galesic
Adjunct Researcher at the Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin
Santa Fe, United States

Lino Guzzella
President, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), www.ethz.ch
Professor of Thermotronics
Zurich, Switzerland

David Krakauer
President and William H. Miller Professor of Complex Systems at Santa Fe Institute, www.santafe.edu/people/profile/david-krakauer
Santa Fe, United States

John Markoff
Author, Senior Writer at New York Times, www.nytimes.com/by/john-markoff
San Francisco, United States

Hall T. Martin
Technology Investor, Startup Mentor, Founder of the Texas Entrepreneur Network, www.tenfundingportal.com/blog/team/hall-t-martin
Austin, Texas, United States

Byron Reese
Serial Entrepreneur, Author, Futurist. www.byronreese.com
Austin, Texas, United States

Kyle Robertson
Founder and CEO of NarrativeDx, www.narrativedx.com
Austin, Texas, United States

Johann Schneider-Ammann
Head of the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research, www.wbf.admin.ch
One of the seven members of the Federal Council, Switzerland’s executive body
Bern, Switzerland

Don Tapscott
Author, CEO, Tapscott Group, www.tapscott.com
Associate, Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University
Toronto, Canada

Lars Thomsen
Chief Futurist & Founder, Future Matters, www.future-matters.com
Zurich, Switzerland

R “Ray” Wang
Author, Principal Analyst, Founder, Constellation Research, www.constellationr.com
Silicon Valley, United States

Geoffrey West
Distinguished Professor, Science Board, Science Steering Committee at Santa Fe Institute, www.santafe.edu/people/profile/geoffrey-west
Santa Fe, United States

Steve Wilson
Digital Identity Innovator & Analyst, Constellation Research, www.constellationr.com
Sydney, Australia

On the Road: Downtown Los Angeles, August 2017

Every street corner of Los Angeles tells a story, but downtown has more stories to tell than the rest of the city. There is a jewelry district, a fashion district, and many creative startups. People come here because they work in a specific field or have no business...
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On the Road: Of Games, Surfboards and Horses, August 2017

Saturday afternoon is one of the busiest days at the Los Angeles Marina. At a nearby beach, I'm meeting Heather Desurvire for a conversation about user behavior in software, apps, and games. Well designed games prepare us for experiences in the real world. How does...
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On the Road: San Francisco, August 2017

Most people living in San Francisco work on the digital future in some form or another. Is this a reason that next to many other things, it is also the city of second-hand book stores? Die meisten Menschen, die in San Francisco wohnen, haben mit der digitalen Zukunft...
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On the Road: From the Valley to the Sea, August 2017

Silicon Valley designs much of the software and electronics for the entire world. On a trail above the valley, I meet engineers from Germany, India, Russia, and China, who work at some of the tech giants below. Engineers stay at Apple, Facebook, Google for an average...
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On the Road: Making Things Better, July 2017

A drive of forty miles can take three hours in the San Francisco Bay Area. No wonder the idea of autonomous vehicles resonates here. Who would mind automating away traffic? Further north 150 guests enjoy a three-course meal infused with high potency cannabis oil....
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On the Road: Moving Fast and Slow, July 2017

A race between high speed drones takes less than five seconds. You hear the rotors spinning, but the drone is so fast it's invisible except when it stops. Pilots guide their drones with virtual reality goggles, as if they were flying in the machines themselves. The...
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On the Road: The Inventor and the Flying Car, Mojave Desert, June 2017

Inventor Dezso Molnar is building a flying car, the ultimate harbinger of the future. He takes me flying on his gyroplane in the Mojave Desert at dawn. There are no giant dashboards or touch screens, just good ideas that address problems with no frills. It seems some...
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On the Road: The Painter and the Drone, Los Angeles, June 2017

I've known the painter Marty Katon for over a decade as one of the most prolific artists in Venice. He often saves lost animals, is a medicine man, and teaches art class at a local college. Marty is telling me of plans to add drawings of drones and smartphones to his...
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On the Road: Los Angeles, June 2017

Research for the film takes me to Los Angeles, where I visit old friends, go to their filmshoots and screenings, and meet potential interviewees. There were always more screens here than people. Traffic is as slow as ever, and it's no wonder people desire self-driving...
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What is Digital Transformation?

Digital transformation is a process that begins with digitization and digitalization. Digitization is the translation of analog information into digital form. Digitalization is the process of using digital information. Both have enabled trends of our time, such as the Internet of Things, Industry 4.0, Big Data, artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing, blockchain technology, or cryptocurrencies. Digital transformation describes the stage where digital technologies reshape the way nations, economies, and societies function.

This transformation is only beginning and poses many questions, including the question if it really has the dramatic impact many predict. Within the next years, digital transformation may alter the way we have lived as a species for the last centuries. An exciting time in history, indeed.

Why This Film Matters

Many big changes are exponential: They build slowly until their effects show in a short amount of time. This can be unpleasant if it hits us by surprise. At the same time, we should stop focusing too narrowly on specific technologies, but think about the future we actually want to live in. This film provides the first global outlook on our hopes and dreams of the role of technology in the future.

Progress holds great promise for those who keep an open mind. Knowledge creation is a bottom-up process that starts with each individual wanting to know more. If anything, this film shall inspire you to join the conversation and learn more about making the most of our talents in the digital future.

Production and Communications

Ruedi Maeder  
Agentur am Wasser, www.agenturamwasser.ch
Zurich, Switzerland

Many thanks to Ruedi and his network for making this film happen.

Special Thanks

Special thanks for your time, feedback, access to networks, and other help in the course of making this film! This list constantly updates as the project continues (list in alphabetical order).