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Inaugural VOICE Summit opens at NJIT

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Modev CEO and VOICE Founder Pete Erickson speaking at the event said he founded VOICE to connect people.
Modev CEO and VOICE Founder Pete Erickson speaking at the event said he founded VOICE to connect people. - ()

People, tech and VOICE Summit’s host city all got shout-outs in early sessions Tuesday.

“We explored multiple cities to host this summit and Newark rose to the top,” said Modev CEO Pete Erickson, VOICE Summit founder in opening remarks. “Technology cannot move forward unless people come together and move it forward. We could have put this conference in so many cities. We are thrilled to have chosen this city and campus.”

VOICE Summit has attracted more than 2,400 registrants for a schedule of events at the New Jersey Institute of Technology

Erickson called human interaction the underpinnings to technological advancement, and the confab’s first keynoter agreed. David Isbitski, chief evangelist for Alexa and Echo at Amazon and a 1998 NJIT grad, said in a morning address the most important consideration in making an emerging technology succeed is people.

Chief Evangelist for Alexa and Echo at Amazon David Isbitski delivers a keynote address at #VOICE18.
Chief Evangelist for Alexa and Echo at Amazon David Isbitski delivers a keynote address at #VOICE18.

“I was one of those kids who was upset that my parents did not know what I was doing – programming computers,” Isbitski said.

He recalled being an NJIT senior and not knowing what tech specialty to pursue. He decided upon tech accessibility.

“We have lived through different types of interfaces,” Isbitski said. “Some of you parents have little ones. This is the first generation where human beings are interacting with [artificial intelligence] every day.”

Yet tech professionals need to stay in touch with everybody, he added.

“As a technologist, I have always done the mother-in-law test,” he said. “She has no idea what I do for a living. We get along great.”

Isbitski shared a story from a woman who thanked Amazon’s Alexa virtual digital assistant for helping in a medical emergency involving her 97-year-old father – he simply cried “help” and Alexa responded.

“You know something is disruptive when it breaks down barriers,” he said.

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David Hutter

David Hutter


David Hutter grew up in Darien, Conn., and covers higher education, transportation and manufacturing for NJBIZ. He can be reached at dhutter@njbiz.com.

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