Mini Trip Report MP Silicon Valley in Azerbaijan
(See attachment for the full version of this report)
Two members of the Millennium Project Silicon Valley Node, including the co-chair, Brock Hinzmann, accompanied by former computer scientist at Hewlett Packard and Sun Microsystems, Eileen McGinnis, traveled to Baku, Azerbaijan, at the invitation of MP Azerbaijan Node Chair, Reyhan Huseynova, of the Azerbaijan Futures Studies Society. ADA (formerly the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy, which also hosted meetings with the MP Planning Committee in 2013) and the Sapphire City Hotel sponsored the trip. Most of the meetings dealt with IT and the future of work and related topics, as set forth in the MP 2050 Global Work/Technology Scenarios report. Basic themes could be summarized in 5 areas:
1. ‘Azerbaijan as a crossroads,’ including political history, oil, art, architecture, and a 'maker space.' At a class on Current Global Issues at ADA, led by Roald Sagdeev, former director of the Space Research Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences, we discussed the influences of technology on future society.
2. ‘Young Entrepreneurs,’ including a presentation on “Your Life in the Gig Economy,” and a pitching event at the Azerbaijan State University of Economics. In a separate meeting at ADA, we met with local entrepreneurs, a Russian bank, and faculty, to discuss alternative approaches to starting up and financing new companies in Azerbaijan and Silicon Valley.
3. Industry support for new technologies, including a meeting with local representatives of US-based companies and others at the American Chamber of Commerce. The vice-president of Human resources at SOCAR discussed plans to revise its IT platform and to increase its use of artificial intelligence.
4. Uncertainty about the role of government to help entrepreneurs in the post-Soviet era.
5. Government research and development. We met with the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Communications of Communities and High Technologies to discuss the IT infrastructure and Azerbaijan’s recent investments in satellite technology. At a large assembly of faculty and students at the Azerbaijan Technical University we discussed how to apply concepts like 3D Printing and additive manufacturing and AI to large-scale production. At the Institute of Information Technology (Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences) we presented to a large group and answered questions about venture capital investments in IT in Agriculture. We also met with the Director of the Center For Strategic Studies Under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, who is very supportive of the Futures Studies Society.