American investors, AI and living forever
By Xanthe Vaughan Williams
O n Thursday last week I was at the Sifted Summit, listening to funders and startups from the tech industry talking about the latest trends and tackling a few thorny topics. It was informative and interesting, and I would encourage anyone in the sector to go along next year.
In the meantime, while I’m still bubbling with enthusiasm, I’ve jotted down a few of the points that I picked up which might be interesting to you too.
Firstly, it’s been a while since I was at a big tech event, so maybe this is now the norm, but the demographic of the attendees had me thinking I must be in the wrong place. Women everywhere! And not a high heel in sight. Happily I wasn’t the only ancient person in the room, but the vibe was young and diverse. It helped a lot that many of the moderators, including Sifted’s excellent editor Amy Lewin, are themselves young women.
Americans in Europe
There was much to feel encouraged about in the presentations. Tackling a subject close to our hearts at Fourth Day – Americans in Europe – it was good to hear that most US VCs had chosen to set up and remain in London, rather than running their European operations elsewhere in the continent. It seems that although Brexit may have made alternative countries more appealing, the common language and familiar culture is still keeping the special relationship alive.
An end to the slowdown?
While opinion about the current economic slowdown was roughly in agreement – in that it wouldn’t be over for another year or so – speakers also concurred that this would force entrepreneurs to be more focused in their messages, and to seek investment from funders who really “get” their proposition. One speaker presented this as a change from asking an investor to “believe” instead of to “dream”. (Ted Lasso did not receive an acknowledgement.)
"It seems that although Brexit may have made alternative countries more appealing, the common language and familiar culture is still keeping the special relationship alive."
AI – could regulation be a good thing?
Various uses for GenAI were discussed, along with warnings against blindly hopping onto the AI bandwagon as it bowls along. Regulation, a controversial topic that divides experts, was raised in a number of different contexts. While everyone knows that we’ll never be able to completely contain AI development by unscrupulous factions, several speakers pointed out that regulation is likely to improve trust, which would make customers more inclined to invest in the technology.
And finally – will we live forever?
Undoubtedly the most disturbing session I attended was an interview with Christian Angermeyer, perhaps best known for his investments in the development of psychedelic drugs. It was a step away from IT but completely fascinating. In an interview with Mimi Billing of Sifted, Angermeyer, a biochemist who has never drunk alcohol, discussed the use of psychedelics in the treatment of depression. He also put forward his belief that within ten years it will be possible to use drugs to prolong life significantly. He believes that two drugs in particular will be crucial to this. One, Ozempic, was developed to regulate blood sugar in diabetics and can avoid the spikes in blood sugar which are major contributors to the ageing process. The other, yet to be fully approved, prevents the muscle wastage that comes with age. In the meantime, he suggested, we should focus on sleep, exercise and a social life.
Xanthe is a co-founder and director of Fourth Day PR