Why do we need to deepen our definition of ‘Deep Tech’?

It was  interesting today to read an article which looks at deep tech in Brazil, and specifically focused on the strategy of GRIDS Capital, an investment fund which has currently raised US$ 45 million and which invests in advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, robotics, nanotechnology and the internet of things: ‘Deep value’ in ‘deep tech’ – the strategy of GRIDS Captial.

The article is interesting in that it outlines four variables that GRIDS Captial that allow us to understand the mindset behind their investment strategy. These four variables are:

  • Microprocessing power
  • The price of computer memory
  • The price of sensors
  • Smartphone usage

The focus of the article is actually quite traditional in its structure: new technology is being developed, there is an opportunity to invest in startups and through managing risk and because of the higher barriers to entry into this market, there is therefore an opportunity to achieve an extremely high return on these investments.

The article ends with a brief look at deep tech in Brazil and the reasons which make it a possible region to attract investment, noting that it is in the top 20 countries in the world in relation to the publication of science and technology academic articles. However, as the authors of the article note, it is Brazil’s lack of competitivity which restricts it from achieving its fullest potential.

While the article is of course interesting for those which to learn a little more about the investment strategies of one of Brazil’s leading funds in advanced technology, I profoundly believe in the need to distinguish between traditional mindsets relating to advanced technology, and the new movement which is growing around deep tech, and the need to expand our notion of deep tech to include human values, human consciousness in all its forms and the implications for humanity and a the systemic impact of technology on society and our planet.

A central part of our Deep Tech Network is our manifesto which we published to help people start to deepen their conversations around advanced technology, the direction in which it is taking us and the futures we wish to evolve towards. Our manifesto consists of the following seven principles:

  1. The purpose of Deep Tech is to use deep thinking to find deep solutions to complex problems;
  2. Deep Tech combines analytical thinking and artistic consciousness;
  3. Deep Tech creates augmented intelligence, the combination of artificial intelligence with conscious human endeavours;
  4. Privacy and ethics are core elements of Deep Tech algorithms;
  5. Deep Tech is developed by talented people who come from a rich diversity of backgrounds;
  6. The values of Deep Tech are the five universal human values of peace, truth, love, righteousness and non-violence;
  7. Deep Tech helps us to explore our world and ourselves in ever more meaningful ways, honouring what it is to be human in our world.

The manifesto allows us to generate many different questions and forms of questioning and explorations of new technology that traditional mindsets which are mostly focused on investment oppoerunities rarely enter into. And once we begin to ask these questions, we start to realise that we need new frameworks to help organisations not only design and deploy complex technological architectures, but to think about how to make the shift from marketing to transformation.

For this reason in 2015 Holonomics developed the New 4Ps framework of platforms, purpose, people and planet. The original 4Ps marketing mix of product, price, place and promotion is still very much valid if you wish to market your existing offering. But business as usual is now no longer an option, and therefore organisations which wish to transform themselves are now looking to the New 4Ps as a framework to work with prior to any design, development and marketing initiatives.

Credit: The Deep Tech Network

And while the investment dimension of advanced technology is of course perfectly valid as well, in order to be able to transform visions into reality, we also believe that our four pillars of deep tech can help organisations understand how to transform their mindsets from thinking about advanced technology towards understanding the impact and power of deep tech solutions.

Image: Vai na Web

Our four pillars are Deep Tech, Deep Thinking, Deep Talent and Deep Collaboration, and as I explained in a previous article, all of these factors are interrelated, inpacting on and being impacted by each other pillar. Our deep tech ecosystem is already working with leaders at the vanguard of innovation, design and platform development, using the four pillars as a way to generate extremely interesting questions which are helping organisations to uncover new valuable strategic avenues to explore. Some examples of these questions are:

  • What happens when we seek to find the next generation of technologists, coders and innovators in some of the most disadvantaged communities such as the favelas of Rio de Janeiro?
  • How can an understanding of artistic consciousness inform our approach to the development of advanced artificial intelligence solutions?
  • How can we design the next generation of collaborative-working platforms to maximise the creativity and power of the union of human and machine intelligence?
  • What role does cultural transformation play in the success of digital transformation programmes?

These are all projects and initiatives that our Deep Tech Network is already exploring here in Brazil, a country which of course has its fair share of problems and challenges, but which at the same time has one of the most incredibly diverse populations of creative, articulate, artistic, innovative, regenerative and resilient people in the world. This is the opportunity and the reason why technology investment funds need to consider Brazil, and why some very exciting developments are coming out of this country.

The most powerful solutions to problems come from those people who have the ability to enter into the lived experience of those people whose problems and challenges they are wishing to solve. As someone who was the co-founder of the world’s first mobile internet portal, and who helped developed one of the world’s first multi-player mobile gaming platforms in the 1990s and early 2000s, I know the culture of the technology investment community well. For this reason I have sought to now play a role in helping this community to evolve beyond the more orthodox approach to investments in start ups, to one where they are truly able to comprehend the power and impact of deep tech, as opposed to their current focus on the applications and returns from advanced tech.

Futher reading and links

Technology with Soul: A New Manifesto for Deep Tech

The Four Key Pillars of Deep Tech

Digital Transformation, Social Inclusion and the Role of Deep Talent

Evolving our Organisations through Deep Tech and the New 4Ps

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