Brilliant Minds Gather for Wired Next Fest 2018


Wired Next Fest 2018 will convene in Florence from Friday, September 28 – Sunday, September 30 at Palazzo Vecchio. The convention of science and innovation is the largest of its kind and will welcome prolific speakers from many countries, professions and walks of life.  The theme of this year’s installation will be “Simplicity.” Discussions will address how new technologies, big data and artificial intelligence can make life easier by providing more freedom and opportunities for individuals, companies and organizations.

The festival will commence at 8 pm on September 28 with a musical opening (including a 10 pm performance by Sanremo song contest star Francesca Michielin) and will proceed with an array of panels, keynotes, workshops, exhibitions, performances, and concerts, all of which are free to the public (although guests must register online before attending).

European Space Agency Astronaut Luca Parmitano will give a talk in the Salone dei Cinquecento on Saturday, September 29 from 1:10-1:40 pm. Parmitano served as Lieutenant Colonel in the Italian Air Force and accumulated over 2,000 flight hours operating 40 different types of aircraft before being selected as an ESA astronaut in 2009. Parmitano was a flight engineer on the first long-term mission of the Italian Space Agency on the International Space Station and spent 166 days in space on the Volare Mission from 2012-2013. He served as the main Capsule Communicator during the first spacewalk in 2017 and has been assigned the role of commander of the space research outpost for an upcoming mission in 2019.

One of the most prominent speaker to be featured at the convention is none other than the Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist of Google, Vinton G. Cerf. Universally recognized as the father of the internet, Cerf is credited with co-designing the TCP/IP Protocol and the initial architecture of the Internet. His impressive career has included 24 honorary degrees and numerous prestigious awards, such as the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the US National Medal of Technology and the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering. Cerf will speak on Sunday, September 30 from 12:30-1:10 pm in the Salone dei Cinquecento.

Later on the same day, Italian pharmacologist and biologist Elena Cattaneo will give a lecture entitled L’Importanza della Ricerca (The Importance of Research) from 4-4:30 pm in the Salone dei Cinquecento. Cattaneo was born in Milan and is world renowned for her studies of Huntington’s disease and stem cell research. In August 2013 she was appointed one of six Italian senators with lifetime tenure, becoming the youngest person in Italian history to receive the honor. Her lecture will explore links between science and politics and gaps in current Italian research.

Also on Sunday from 6:45 – 7:15 pm, international celebrity and singer-songwriter Mika will speak about the role of simplicity in his career. Mika rose to fame in 2007 when his single “Grace Kelly” became an international hit; since then he has been a judge of XFactor Italia and a coach on the French edition of The Voice. He has sold over 10 million records worldwide and the music video for his hit duet with mega pop star Ariana Grande, “Popular Song” garnered 165 million views. Mika drove a cab in Florence for several days in 2017 as part of his series “Stasera Casa Mika’ and was nominated an honorary citizen of Florence and given the keys to the city by the mayor in January of 2018.

Other distinguished speakers will include TV journalist Enrico Mentana, philosopher Michela Marzano, film director Terry Gilliam, actress and comedian Caterina Guzzanti, computer analyst Christopher Wylie and many more. Those interested in attending any events can refer to the Wired Facebook page and website to find out more about guests, venues, and registration.  (leigh van ryn)