GITEX 2022: Insights, Highlights & Take-Aways

Concept of VR government service at GITEX

GITEX 2022 was the biggest it has ever been — in fact it was the biggest tech event the world had ever seen. There were “4,500 companies and 100,000-plus attendees from 170 countries, spanning 26 halls and two million sq. ft., matching the scale of 33 football fields.” This took comfort shoes to a whole new level — understandably sneakers were the fashion choice of the majority of the attendees. The event was packed with talks in every hall and vendors showcased the latest in all things cybersecurity, metaverse, AI, cloud computing, materials science, fintech and the much talked about Web 3.0. Here are my take aways and highlights from what I was able to see and do during this week:

The Internet: How it started and where it is today

It was a treat to start out the week with the panel “Digital Footprints in a Real World: The Future is Here” moderated by investor Prashant K. (PK) Gulati who did an excellent job moderating a fascinating discussion on the digital worlds we inhabit. When asked what we should use VR for Ronald Menzel co founder of leading immersive VR platform Dreamscape Immersive said:

“You should never do in VR what you can do in the real world. Let’s keep in the real world what is real and open possibilities of technology.”

Bashar Kilani beautifully framed the ages of the internet by explaining that when the internet started we had the internet of “data” where we were only able to read information. Then we had the internet of “people” where everyone was able to create content and publish it in blogs, social media or websites. Then we got the internet of “things” something we all are familiar with as our mobile phones and wearables connected to the internet and some even have smart home devices and their cars connected to the internet. Bashar explained that what is emerging next is the internet of “places” and “ownership” (Web 3.0). This is a great timeline of our internet experiences.

VC Kushal Shah also provided an insightful way to see tech and he explained the Web 3.0 stack by explaining that at the bottom of the stack is the “hardware technology”, on top of that are the “tools”(ex: spotify) and on top of that are “bridges” (ex: blockchain).

Dr. Noah Raford brought his futurist and political and economic perspectives to the conversation and voiced the importance of equity between the socioeconomic divides. Just as there are visions of technological prosperity he reminded the audience that there is also a version of dystopia which we must be wary of and actively work against.

I asked them all to describe their perspectives on new and digital economies that will be growing and they said that the big thing will be (1) online to offline transition (2) video games as the new media (3) games as a framework and as an exciting motivational tool for very elaborate story telling.

All Things Metaverse

This year GITEX had a whole portion of the event dedicated to all things metaverse called X-Verse. There I got to experience many different metaverse spaces. H&M had a virtual space showcasing their fashion, others showing the value of VR for education complete with

Physical replica of Pixoul Gaming metaverse

full body haptic suits. I was told you’d be able to feel a hug in it. Another reminder that eventually physical sensory experiences will be more common in VR. Pixoul Gaming was there showcasing a physical version of their metaverse and also selling property. I got a chance to see the penthouse views inside VR. I feel like we are at the moment when GPS was available on phones and people didn’t know what to do with it except show others where they lived. A decade later Uber, DoorDash and others came about. Virtual reality is another space for art and I got to experience Japanese VR artist Aimi Sekiguchi amazing and magical world that she created. (see picture below)

Ramit Harisinghani gave a great presentation on what the metaverse meant for retail explaining that there were doubts that needed to be left behind such as that the metaverse was only for a certain age group, that it will replace human connection and that it is only for gamers (see below):

He showcased different use cases from the luxury retail market and concluded by saying that it is a space for everyone to experiment with and assured the audience that there was no reason for FOMO because the metaverse space is only just getting started.

In the government pavilion, they showcased use cases for handling government related paperwork, complaints and interactions through VR. Ultimately it is another version of zoom but with avatars. My take is that the metaverse and immersive digital spaces are another medium for sharing information, communicating and interacting.

Digital Twins are quietly the next big thing: And it’s powered by data

For those who haven’t been tracking the concept of digital twins, it is quietly something that is revolutionizing the way organizations function and improving efficiency and increasing cost savings.

“A digital twin is a virtual representation of an object or system that spans its lifecycle, is updated from real-time data, and uses simulation, machine learning and reasoning to help decision-making.” — IBM

Representing the Digital Twin ConsortiumY Dan Isaacs and Thynkli’s Eman Kawas gave the most information packed and most informative talk on Digital Twins I have ever heard. The digital Twin Reference Architecture helped me mentally map out digital twins as well as better estimate the threat landscape.

They also offered a business a maturity model which really helped me understand how to grow a digital twin strategy in an organization. However it is important to note that taking on an organizational digital twin should not be done lightly. It requires a massive amount of data and commitment to the process to be able to properly use it and leverage it.

This is the most comprehensive framework I’ve seen that gives a clear roadmap with clear benchmarks. More information can be found on the Digital Twin Consortium website.

During the AI & Robotics Workshops that I moderated Caroline Gorski shared how leveraging data and AI created cost savings for Rolls-Royce to the tune of hundreds of millions and Mark Sage presented a very comprehensive framework for Augmented Reality adoption in industry — which even included security risks.

And how to adopt a zero trust framework for Augmented Reality.

More information on this can be found on the website of the Augmented Reality for Enterprise Alliance (AREA).

An Ecosystem of Hope, Excitement and an Abundance Mindset

Driving up to the GITEX convention center there was a sign with a quote from HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid:

“The future belongs to those who can imagine it, design it, and execute it. It isn’t something you await, but rather create.”

We need to first imagine the future we would like to create before we can create it. It was very palpable that we are living in a time where we need to roll up our sleeves if we are to build the next version of infrastructure to elevate our society to capture the promise of new technologies.

The vibe and interactions at GITEX were full of hope and excitement for the future. But more importantly there was a wide spread abundance mindset that percolated throughout the 2 million square feet of the expo’s grounds. For those who are not aware of what an abundance mindset is, it is about thinking big and seeing the world as one filled with opportunity and possibility instead of one of scarcity and diminishing opportunities. It is choosing to be positive, proactive and curious. These are the traits that are needed as we grow in the 4th Industrial Revolution and push forward to make a break through into the 5th Industrial Revolution in our lifetime.

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Dr. Lydia Kostopoulos is Senior Vice President of Emerging Tech Insights at KnowBe4. She is a multi-disciplinary professional whose expertise lies at the intersection of strategy, security and emerging technologies. Dr. Kostopoulos brings a systems thinking approach to her work, examining technology opportunities and risks in the context of global macro trends, society, geopolitics, international economics, climatic factors and demographic change.

She continues to work with U.S. Special Operations and has worked with NATO, the United Nations and the IEEE Standards Body. In the realm of technology ethics she is an advisor for the Data Ethics Consortium for Security and for Ethical Intelligence Associates. Passionate about spreading awareness on emerging technologies, Dr. Kostopoulos makes art about technology and has a multilingual, reflective game on emerging technologies called Sapien2.0, which explores the human and machine relationship.

She also has a fashion label Empowering Workwear by Lydia that she uses to make art installations that you wear with story telling fashion. Her debut product is the #Fortune500Shirt — watch the trailer for it here.

You can find her on Twitter, Instagram or Linkedin, for more about her projects check out her site.

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Dr. Lydia Kostopoulos

Experimenter | Strategy & Innovation | Emerging Tech | National Security | Wellness Advocate | Story-telling Fashion | Art #ArtAboutAI → www.Lkcyber.com