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Global talent coming to town to talk tech, AI and the future of digital transformation


Some of the world’s top innovators and business minds are making their way to Auckland for “Future State”, a keynote speaker event which will explore the driving forces behind the next era of technological innovation.


Presented by Spark Lab and Semi Permanent, the event will be hosted at Spark Arena on Thursday 11 May with around 1300 people expected to attend. 


Aimed at attracting people from emerging small businesses right through to large enterprises, the event promises to be a regular fixture on the New Zealand business calendar with an international calibre of speakers from some of the world’s most innovative and successful companies, including adidas, Google, VICE media and more.


Spark Marketing Director, Matt Bain says the one-day event will deliver a series of high-impact business briefings from amazing leaders who have pushed the boundaries and found themselves at the edge of innovation.


“We are seeing the possibilities for digital technology to enable cross-sector transformation explode – and the speakers we’ve assembled will speak to the newest trends, offer practical advice and renewed approaches to innovation to drive commercial success through technological and creative development.”


The first edition of the event has been curated to the theme of ‘New Realities’, which will explore the driving forces behind the next era of the internet and unpack the challenges and opportunities of developments such as the metaverse, data sovereignty, AI, VR, gamification and tokenisation, and UX and UI design. This will be the first Future State event with Spark Lab and Semi Permanent committing to host them annually with a smaller event also taking place in the second half of the year. 


Unlike other business conferences, the event will offer more than just actionable insights into new technologies, with insights into how they apply to, and respect, people, and the planet. Additional topics will include diversity in digital representation, accessibility, AI biases, digital human rights, low-impact, and climate-positive technology, and building mental and creative resilience. 


“Future State has always been a hugely popular part of every Semi Permanent festival program, one that’s provided a multitude of benefits to attendees,” says Semi Permanent Global Creative Director, Mitchell Oakley Smith. “We’re excited to be collaborating with Spark Lab to create a standalone platform for Future State that will strongly position New Zealand business leaders for long-term success.” 


Confirmed speakers for the event include:


Mikaela Jade, CEO, Indigital

Mikaela’s company Indigital is Australia’s first Indigenous edu-tech company. Indigital is built on a belief that together we can use digital technologies – including virtual, augmented, and mixed realities – to help preserve and proliferate 80,000 years of human knowledge while engaging First Nations peoples in education that leads to skills, jobs, and wealth creation to build a stronger future for all.


Mark Adams, Vice President and Head of Innovation, VICE Media

Mark created the very first digital consultancy for celebrities and for people in the public eye in 2003. After leading the digital transformation of more than a hundred entertainment brands and public personalities – from Usher and Lady Gaga, through to Barack Obama and Buckingham Palace, Mark established a brand-new company to apply this experience and to innovate in digital transformation for B2B brands.


Sam Conniff, Founder, The Uncertainty Experts

Sam is the founder of The Uncertainty Experts, an immersive learning program designed to optimise people for change. They have a focus on driving creativity, problem solving and breakthrough thinking, while ensuring long term wellbeing and mental fitness. Sam is a purpose-driven strategy consultant to brands such as Facebook, Red Bull, Unilever, and PlayStation.


Danielle Krettek, Founder, Google Empathy Lab

Having worked for Nike, Apple and Google, Danielle has brought vibrant humanity, beauty, and emotion to products for 18 years. In 2016, she launched Google's Empathy Lab to design more emotionally attuned and human-kind experiences. She believes the future is feeling and is on a mission to bring deep humanity to AI by working with Google's Design, Research and Machine Intelligence and Advanced Technology and Projects teams.


Constantine Gavryrok, Global Director of Digital Experience Design, and Alexandra Popova, Senior Director of Digital Production Personalisation, adidas

Husband and wife duo Constantine and Alexandra have helped to grow highly efficient, innovative, customer-oriented teams delivering services and products across Adidas. Alexandra is responsible for enabling markets across Adidas and Reebok brands to bring thousands of products to millions of customers online. Constantine specialises in UX design, product design, and inclusive design across all Adidas digital products.


Dr Jonnie Penn, Professor of AI Ethics and Society, Cambridge University

A technology historian, #1 New York Times bestselling author and sought-after public speaker, Dr Jonnie Penn is an expert in what is widely regarded as a global cognitive revolution: artificial intelligence. His work is concerned with the challenges, ramifications and opportunities that stem from AI innovation, such as the Large Language Models responsible for tools like ChatGPT, calling into question established norms about what behaviour counts as human, and what being human will mean in the future. 


Future State: New Realities will take place on 11 May 2023 at Spark Arena, Auckland. Tickets are available to purchase from


Notes to editor 

About Semi Permanent

Semi-Permanent is the biggest and longest-running creativity and design festival in the southern hemisphere. Over the past 20 years it has hosted more than 50 events in 13 cities, featuring over 800 speakers and attracting more than 300,000 attendees.

About Spark

As New Zealand's largest telecommunications and digital services company, Spark’s purpose is to help all of New Zealand win big in a digital world. Spark provides mobile, broadband, and digital services to millions of New Zealanders and thousands of New Zealand businesses.


Ellie Cross

Corporate Relations Lead Partner
+64 22 630 0665 |

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