In the spirit of turning things upside down, breaking the rules and doing things my own way I’m going to start at the end. Wired Next Generation followed two days of Wired 2016, but I’m going to serve up some Next Generation gems first.
My custom kicks by @moinart
Wired Next Generation is mental fertiliser, creative juice – food for thought – which brings me neatly on to the work and wisdom of Heston Blumenthal. A self-confessed irritant at school, always asking “why?”, Heston’s curiosity and over-active senses have led him on a culinary and scientific journey inspired by human evolution and imagination. Despite beginning his story with oysters he cites Einstein, rather than Rick Stein, as an inspiration and shares his infectious energy with a captive audience.
Inspiration was never in short supply at Wired Next Gen, with heart-warming accounts of the triumph of education over adversity in a refugee camp in Jordan by Syrian campaigner Muzoon Almellehan, who is now a proud resident of Newcastle and happily getting to grips with the Geordie accent. Read Muzoon’s blog posts explaining her work and experiences here.
Samantha Payne presented a ground-breaking social, medical and technological innovation in the form of bionic upper limbs. By using 3D scanning and printing, she and the team at Open Bionics have slashed the cost of bionic upper limbs by 10 times and produce them in four days rather than four months. For the world’s 2 million upper limb amputees, this provides not only functional, but personalised affordable limbs. Samantha’s work turns kids (and adults) into bionic superheroes, questioning the future superiority of human anatomy over bionic alternatives. Empowering and moving, this transformative tech was demonstrated and explained by Tilly:
“What have you done today?” asked Oliver Franklin-Wallis, Assistant Editor of Wired, of the audience at Wired Next Gen after Google Science Fair award-winner Krtin Nithiyanandam explained how at the age of 15, he combined two antibodies to devise a way to detect early onset Alzheimers, drastically improving patient prognosis. Since then, he has devised a way to alter untreatable breast cancer cells into treatable ones. He is now 16. Oliver, I’m going to pass on that question…
Rounding off this article with a lyrical trip to the playground is Hussain Manawer. After getting sacked from Sainsbury’s (for eating a doughnut on the shop floor) he moved on to a job at Primark, followed by a stint at Coca Cola. He studied Quantity Surveying at the University of Westminster, which was “pretty dry” and went on to found his youtube channel Hussain’s House, seeking to support youth causes through artistic expression. He has since raised his voice at the One Young World Summit in Bangkok to speak for those who suffer from mental illness but struggle to be heard.
Hussain’s speech won him a Rising Star Award and a place on a space flight in 2018, when he will become the first British Muslim to go to space. His honesty, candour and wit are disarming and charming. Here’s a clip of him taking us back to the playground.
To play us out, here’s Swedish popstar MY, who is unsurprisingly difficult to track down on a Google search. Here she is at Ohheymy.
Thank you Wired, for the sparks and the seeds that will help the next generation of bright minds to blow ours. Bring it!