Entrepreneur, comedian and actress Felicia Day will be the special guest emcee at this year’s Innovate2011 conference, June 5 – 9. We caught up with her recently to ask about why she agreed to be the host (a conference first for her), as well as get her views on where technology is heading, and the impact innovations such as Watson have on her industry.
What made you decide to host Innovate2011?
Felicia: My brother worked for IBM and had been to Innovate many times. He said it was a really fun time. So, I have that connection to IBM. And I feel the tech world is something I’m very comfortable in. I enjoy working with tech companies because I’m always looking to do something no one has done before, and that kind of thinking is embraced by tech companies. IBM seemed like a really good fit for me to make my first foray into being a host.
Oh, and I’m excited to meet Watson.
Speaking of Watson, from your perspective, where else could Watson’s natural language processing be used?
Felicia: I derive great enjoyment by sharing things [through social media] that people don’t know about, but they would enjoy – especially in the area of entertainment, gaming, social media.
We’re in a world with so much inundation of information and we are able to customize our living experiences to really identify what we love in the world … but I think there’s a particular need for curation and customization with all the technology we have in order to find the information that you’re looking for.
So, having the technology that we can say “Hey, find a really good cupcake within two miles of me.” Or, “What time was my dentist appointment?” to … being able to interact with all the technologies around us in a way that is more human … that would be particularly helpful for people in this social media world, where we’re always connected, but maybe not connected to the right things.
Why should your fans, fans of The Guild, be interested in IBM?
Felicia: I learned, in my years when I was starting The Guild from the ground up, to appreciate how valuable all the back-end technology components were to us getting going quickly – things we took for granted.
So, to me, all my experiences have given me a great appreciation for the people who are experts in the field who work on the platforms and technology behind the scenes, and who without them nothing would exist.
And having my brother be at IBM for so long and knowing that his work with data systems made things run properly and help us advance as a society made me really interested in supporting that, and proud to be giving more of a face to it.
How’s The Guild going and are you working on any new projects you can tell us about?
I have a new project that should come out this summer. It’s based on the world of DragonAge, which is a video game franchise I love. They gave me an opportunity to create a narrative web series that fits in their universe. I created an elf character who is an assassin, and we follow her on her quest. It’s even more “meta” than The Guild, which is a show about people playing a game. This is a show about me playing a character who could fit in the world of a game. I’m progressively digging myself deeper and deeper into the world of video games which is not a bad thing because I love them.
Thank you Felicia for chatting with us today. Any final thoughts?
Felicia: You’re welcome. And thank you, too. I’m really looking forward to Innovate. To me, I’ve always been connected to tech, so the people I admire most are the people who innovate in the tech area.