Superpowering the Future

Superpowering the Future

Entrepreneur Ben Lamm has a mammoth task ahead. The CEO of Colossal Biosciences is in the business of de-extinction – on a mission to bring the woolly mammoth back to life. Yes, this is someone who takes their big, hairy, audacious goals literally. By harnessing the genome-editing power of CRISPR, his company hopes to see the first mammoth calves entering the world in 2028. That’s a sequel 4,000 years in the making!

Lamm’s gamble was just one of the incredible stories I heard this week in Los Angeles for CogX Festival, where 180 speakers inspired almost 2,000 guests at the Fairmont Century Plaza. With the question, “How do we seize the AI opportunity”, scores of founders, scientists and changemakers including Wendy GonzalezLauren Wright, MSN, AGNP-BCPeter H. DiamandisBillie Quinlan and Bill Gross lined up to share their versions of the future.

In fact, Colossal is on a bigger mission to, in its words, “reawaken the lost wilds of Earth”. The United Nations calculates that one million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction. Although comparisons with Jurassic Park are tempting, when you consider that more than 40% of amphibians and more than a third of reef mammals are threatened, their work has more in common with Sir David Attenborough than his late brother, Sir Richard.

Sir David (alongside Morgan Freeman) tops the list offered by Mati Staniszewski, co-founder of Eleven Labs of the voices he would most like to work with. The firm creates natural AI voices instantly in any language and is busy spreading the word to video creators, developers, and businesses. I interviewed Mati just after he had been speaking to rapper, producer and entrepreneur No surprise that a judge for The Voice was more than keen to collaborate with this leading British tech company.

Creative forces were top of mind when meeting the legendary executive producer of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Hulk – the Founding Chairman of Marvel Studios, David Maisel (pictured???? ). For my opening question, I channelled this superhero theme, asking him “Who, or what, is the enemy of creativity?” The low-key, self-effacing founder who oversaw the sale of Marvel Studios to The Walt Disney Company for $4 billion smiled, paused, and framed his answer with just one word; “Timidity”.

Of course the obvious punchline is that not all superheroes wear capes. But my main reflection from CogX Festival LA was this;

Not all changemakers are obvious.

Yes, the bombastic, rambunctious leader is entertaining. But more than often it is the thoughtful, introverted, quieter soul who is the most interesting.

If I could bring anything back to life, it would be the idea that we must not overly conflate communication skills with talent.

We are surrounded by Peter Parkers and Diana Princes. If we only recognise them when they fly, we will miss the chance to support their true superpowers.



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