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Learn Why Shivvy Jervis is a Leading Woman in Tech

Thursday, Dec 07, 2017

Voted a thought leader for ‘making digital Britain tick’, Shivvy Jervis is a multi-award winning futurist, advisor and presenter on the digital economy. She makes it her mission to uncover the most groundbreaking innovation that will transform our realities. Shivvy demystifies some of the most complex technological concepts that radically reshapes sectors, industries and ultimately our day-to-day lives. She champions the notion of ‘tech-for-good’ and the role of digital as a catalyst and driver of meaningful value. ESB had the opportunity to chat with Shivvy about what it means to be a woman in tech and what’s coming next for her.


You are a strong proponent for the positive benefits of Artificial Intelligence.  What do you see as the most exciting applications currently in development?

I envision AI as an enabler, not a detriment. It may feel like a hot-button topic that has only just captured mainstream imagination or media attention in the past year or two, but it’s been in play for over half a century. For instance, it’s been widely used in translation software or gaming. Commercial interest in the area is currently skyrocketing – it’s reported that nearly 60% of organizations are gathering info to build their AI strategies, and last year alone $1.5 billion was invested in more than 200 AI-focused companies. That’s “sit-up-and-take-notice” stuff.

I’m far more intrigued by what I call Emotive AI – one that is responsive and can emulate human emotion. One application of this that I’ve been tracking closely are Digital Human avatars. These are incredibly life-like, human looking ‘faces’, which can read your mood and respond in real time. Imagine an extremely friendly, human face appearing on your smartphone, tablet or laptop screen when you are in immediate need of help from a brand be it your bank or any online shopping app/portal. This AI illusion will be able to find a solution for you at breathtaking speed – critical at a time when customers expect rapid turnaround to their queries on social or online. I see this as an opt-in service that could have tremendous impact on how any organization or service provider delivers that holy grail of excellent customer service… at 20-times the efficiency of a human (and none of the unpredictability of human behavior or moods!)

And while its breadth of human consciousness still developing, as the computational ability of such an avatar is ramped up further, this tech will allow machines to talk to us literally face-to-face, reverse engineering AI to be more human.

As the creator of video series’ such as Digital Futures and The Trailblazers, you try to demystify extremely complex concepts. As a speaker, how do you go about making technology seem approachable to the average audience member, particularly to those who are apprehensive about future technological advancements?

As a storyteller and speaker, if you aren’t making your subject matter palatable or reading your audience fully, you’re dead in the water. How do I do this? I don’t over think it – it’s just second nature to me! With a background firmly rooted in journalism, I’ve always needed to be able to deconstruct complicated concepts or themes for a wide audience. Being vague or too high-level and jargon-heavy really weighs down a news feature and you run the risk of alienating your audience.

I applied the same thinking to my video scripting and presenting. When I went on to create two successful innovation video series’, the very premise of the first one – Digital Futures – was to ‘demystify’ tech themes that were seemingly complex, whilst maintaining high editorial value, keeping it deeply insightful and not dumbing it down in any way. This helped build an 11+ million strong number of views by the time we wrapped up both series’ – the approach seemed to strike a real chord with people.

When taking the stage to do a futurist keynote, by far the strongest motivation in keeping the content approachable is my audience – it is intensely rewarding when you see them lean in and really listen, and properly soak in what you are trying to convey.

I have made it my mission for a decade now to uncover the most fascinating advances in digital that will reshape our realities. I’ve always wanted to open up this world to the non-tech elite, rather than a bunch of tech pundits talking to more tech enthusiasts. I want to draw in the wider public, to stir their imaginations and prove that technology doesn’t have to be daunting or ‘out there’. When you show folks the immediate, tangible impact of digital tech to the areas of their lives that matter the most – that’s when you see their eyes light up and the ‘tell me more’ sentiment come into play. That is immensely satisfying and delightful for me.

What experiences led you to focus on technology as a career?

As a feisty 14 year old, camera in tow at every opportunity, I recall trying to interview folks about the newest inventions out there that they felt could make their lives infinitely better. Growing up in India’s Silicon Valley, Bangalore, there was no dearth of exciting global tech companies setting up shop. Even as a teenager, I was utterly fascinated by the buzzing pace of this industry.

At 22, I won a global media fellowship to live and work in Montreal for a year. There, I donned my aspiring broadcast journalist ‘hat’ and managed to connect and interview a slew of technology influencers. This further stoked the fire.

The aspect that has steered me towards a career in this space, however, is the very nature of digital itself – the potent way in which it acts as a catalyst, conduit and connector in enriching our everyday lives, enabling governments and nations to create impact and allowing enterprise to marry profit with purpose. Be it virtual reality opening up access to knowledge and experience to anyone with a $15 headset, or the next wave of wearables giving us critical insight into our minds and bodies, even preempting disease, seeing the impact first-hand made the lure of this industry even more gripping for me.

We find ourselves in the midst of a fourth industrial revolution where emerging and future tech affords unrivalled access to those who need it the most. This is tech-for-good. And it’s magnificent in its impact and explosive in its potential.

You’re in the process of writing a book about recent future groundbreaking technological innovations. What can you tell us about it?

I’m currently penning an ambitious book – An insider’s guide to the 100 breakthrough innovations and inventions that will radically transform our lives in the next decade…and the change-makers leading the charge.

Awareables that know you’re ill before you do, Emotive AI reinventing how we do business and Hybrid Immersion democratizing access to education. Might we find ourselves in a reality where our brainwaves serve as passwords, aging finds a ‘cure’ and humanoid robots help care for us?

I will begin a two-year venture to scour the globe to uncover the most powerful advances of the future, making provocative predictions and introducing you to the makers of tomorrow along the way.

What else is coming down the pike?

In addition to my book, I’m in the conceptualization and pre-production stage for a new project that I’m deeply excited about – I’ve been invited to create a new online video series in partnership with a brilliant company. It will be high-octane in pace and tone, hugely people-led, and bring digital tech themes to life in an extremely imaginative way. Think CNN meets Vice Media!

I’ll soon be sitting on two national councils in an advisory capacity – the themes cover diversity in tech and the future of the workplace respectively. Acting as an industry advisor is very fulfilling.

Lastly, I’ve booked in a slew of fantastic keynote speaking slots for the coming year. From Singapore to Berlin and the US to Norway, I’ll be bringing to life some of the most compelling advances in digital tech where I hope to captivate and inspire audiences about the role this plays as a catalyst and connector.

For more information on woman in tech Shivvy Jervis, or to book her for your next event, contact Executive Speakers Bureau at (901) 754.9404.

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