Disconnect - Leeds International Festival

Festival 19


Saturday 28 April

View Tickets

Disconnect are we addicted to Tech?

We now live in an ‘attention economy,’ where technologies win by maximizing the amount of our time and attention they capture. 55% of us look at our phones within 15 minutes of waking, according to a 2017 Global Mobile Consumer Survey by Deloitte.

The question is, could you do a digital detox for even a week?

Best-selling author Dr Jack Lewis will take us on a dizzying adventure through the mind-boggling complexity of the human brain, this time evaluating the impact of modern technology on our grey (and white) matter. He’ll be describing the headline findings of the latest studies to investigate how the intensive use of smartphones, computers and tablets – so evident everywhere we go these days – might actually change the very fabric of our brains.

Do social media apps help us stay connected with our friends, or merely add unnecessary stress to frantically busy lifestyles? Might media multitasking erode our capacity for sustained attention? Could Facebook be changing how people behave in the real world? And what happens when Virtual Reality lands in everybody’s living room; will we ever leave the house?

Futurologist Dr Nicola Millard from BT will be discussing the office of the future and how dependent we will yet become with our Tech for work and play. Technology may be untethering us from our desks, but is culture anchoring us back? In an age where connection is constant, is disconnection now the issue? Why are we still commuting to the office, when many of us find them too distracting to work in? Should we be worried or excited about the Robot revolution?


Dr Jack Lewis has a First Class degree in Neuroscience from Nottingham University and earned his PhD from University of London using fMRI brain scanning to investigate multisensory perception – specifically investigating where in the human brain what we see is integrated with what we hear.
His most recent research in multisensory neurobiology was conducted at the Max Planck Institute in Germany and was published in the Journal of Neuroscience in September 2010.
Dr. Jack has been involved in several television projects over the last 5 years including:

The Tech Show on Discovery Science – a 26 part series showcasing the latest developments in science, technology and engineering.
Sky One‘s primetime series “Body Language Secrets“ and a 20-part social psychology series for BBC2 called “The People Watchers”, where he performed a wide variety of social psychology experiments on unsuspecting members of the public.

Jack also provides neuroscience consultancy services to TV, PR, Marketing, Planning and Advertising firms, including helping to design the games for Five’s “Britain’s Best Brain”, and developing a science-based 3D feature film for Blink Films.

Dr Nicola Millard heads up Customer Insight & Futures in BT’s Innovation Team.  Despite working for a technology company, Nicola isn’t a technologist and combines psychology with futurology to try and anticipate what might be lying around the corner for both customers and organisations (sadly, her crystal ball is broken).

Nicola has been at BT for 27 years. She has done a number of jobs around the BT business, including user interface design, customer service and business consulting. She was involved with a number of BT “firsts”, including the first application of intelligent systems into BT’s call centres and BT’s initial experimentation with home working.

Nicola got her PhD from Lancaster University in 2005 on motivational technologies in contact centres, published her first book in 2009 and now spends most of her time doing research, writing blogs, articles and white papers.

Nicola regularly pops up on radio and TV around the world, including appearances on ‘Woman’s Hour’, ‘Tech Tent’, ‘The Genius of Invention’ and ‘Back in Time for the Weekend’ for the BBC. She has done a TED talk about why people accept or reject technologies and is also a judge on a number of award panels, including the Institute of Customer Service, the CCMA and the Association of Business Psychology awards. In 2014, she was the recipient of the ‘Outstanding Industry Contribution’ award from the UK Contact Centre Forum.

When she’s not doing all that, Nicola travels around the world presenting at conferences and running workshops with an assortment of BT’s large multinational corporate clients including banks, government, airlines and retailers, to name but a few.