I'm somewhat biased (since I curated it) but last Friday's Dots Conference, run by the smart folk at Brilliant Noise, was excellent. One of my favourites out of a whole bunch of inspiring and insightful talks came from Stuart Turner, founder of Robots and Cake, who talked about the transformational power of robotics.
Stuart began losing function in his arms and legs over ten years ago and became a complete quadriplegic when he was 31. But he refused to accept the shrinking world that seemed to present itself to him and hacked together a wide variety of different technologies to help him use his computer, take pictures, create a smart-home and even control a drone remotely through micro-movements. He made a lovely point about how APIs and making technology scriptable and hackable had left the door open just wide enough for him to be adapt technologies to transform his entire life. Technologies that weren't designed with disabled people in mind but that had allowed enough wiggle room, just enough of a crack to let the light in.
Stuart described how flying drones had started to change the way he thought about technology, giving him the feeling of space, control and movement that his body denies him. Something he called the 'extensible self'. The idea of physically interacting with the world remotely. The fact that visiting the National Museum of Australia by using their robot can be easier than going to the end of his road. Disabled people, he said, have grown used to living as disclocated selves, but the idea of interacting remotely with the world, extending ourselves through robots, is something that far more of us will need to get used to in the future. It's a fascinating thought.