Thoughts on the Nobel Peace Prize 2013

This year the Nobel Peace Prize has been very personal for me. I was flown to Oslo to speak at the Telenor Youth Conference, to give a keynote speech to a wonderful group of 25 social entrepreneurs under 25, to share my vision with Esplori, the startup I founded, on how to democratise the tools for teaching and learning worldwide. I told them my life story, the mission that drives me, and some life lessons that I've learned along the way, that might be useful to them in pursuing their projects.

Nobel federico pistono invitation

Official Invitation to thr Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony. Notice how they misspelled my name (I knew I was just an impostor!)

We did this in collaboration with the Nobel Peace Centre, and we were invited to the official Nobel Ceremony, at the Oslo city hall. As I write this on my phone, I'm sitting behind the king of Norway (trying to put my thoughts into words without getting caught).

King of Norway

The King of Norway

This year's prize goes to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The speech justifying this choice outlines what the OPCW has achieves in the last 15 years, with a significant reduction of chemical weapons worldwide, many countries signing the treaty, and the steps they took in making the world safer.

Outside Nobel Peace Centre

Outside the Nobel Peace Centre

All this is very good, chemical weapons are a real threat and I'm sure OPCW has done excellent work in the past three lustra. However, I find myself in a state of emotional conflict. While I understand the reason for this choice, I see its merits, and I'm honoured to be here at the ceremony, I also feel that this has been a very, to use a mild term, safe choice.

What I mean by that is that there are a few elephants in the room, and this year prize seems to be ignoring them wholly. The United States is the country with the most troops deployed worldwide (1,3 million in more than 150 countries), and plays a crucial geopolitical role. The fact that Obama, a warmonger, received the prize a few years ago is a disgrace, and it undermines the credibility of the organisation as a whole. Giving the prize to OPCW is a safe choice, one that offends no one, and it could have been given any year, since they've been around for so long, and they are (luckily) likely to stay here for some more, hopefully until there are no more chemical weapons in the world.

The Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony as seen from the inside

The Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony as seen from the inside

But the political climate of 2013, I think, was not in need of a safe choice. It required a bold action, one that would send a strong message. Personally, I think it should have been given to Manning, Assange, and Snowden, for exposing war crimes, government abuse, and bringing the topic to the public spotlight, while also carefully selecting the material, ensuring that no human lives were at risk as a result of the leaks. This would have been a smack in the face of governments and agencies that are committing crimes against humanity, against millions of people every day, and would have put into question the imperialism grandiose plans that are being enacted without us knowing, without our consent, against most constitutions of civilised countries, ironically using public money to do so.

This is my two cents, and while I'm honoured and humbled to be here at the Nobel Peace Ceremony, I have a bittersweet taste in my mouth, thinking that it could have been so much more than a safe walk in the park and pats on the back.

assang manning snowden

Maybe a mid way would have been more appropriate, with a shared prize between OPWC and the whistleblowers, though I don't know if that's even allowed by the rules.

Perhaps the future will change my mind, but as of now, I think that bold actions, not safe choices, are required to restore the credibility of this ceremony. And in a perfect world, next year they would take away the prize from Obama, but maybe I'm just being delusional.

Improving the World Via Online Learning – Esplori at the Telenor Youth Summit in Oslo, Norway

Telenor Youth Summit

Esplori’s CEO, Federico Pistono to speak at Telenor Group’s inaugural Youth Summit, inspiring these entrepreneurs to follow their dreams.

In partnership with the Nobel Peace Centre, Telenor Group has organised a gathering of youth from the millennial generation, who use technology for social change, aiming to fuel ideas where mobile phone technology can provide solutions that address societal and economic challenges.

All 25 candidates at the summit, through passion and commitment, have developed ideas and they will get a chance to further enhance them in an international setting and in the spirit of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Telenor Group has invited Federico Pistono, the CEO of Esplori, to the summit to inspire the participants from across Asia and Europe by sharing his experience and insight.

Esplori is already on its way to positively impact many people through the intelligent use of communication technologies.

Esplori ( started in June 2013 in partnership with Dotsub, a global leader in providing multi-lingual online videos, to help democratise the tools for teachers and learning worldwide. Pistono’s 40-minute speech at the summit will focus on what young entrepreneurs can learn from his mistakes, experience, and vision, in order to positively impact millions of people.

“I think we are facing many challenges today, bigger than ever. But we also have the greatest opportunity to make a dent in the universe, and we don’t need as many resources as in the past. We need passionate young people with visionary ideas, a lot of enthusiasm, but who can also be practical and turn their dreams into reality,” said Pistono, who will turn 28 the day of the event.

Energy and creativity will be key during these inspirational days.

The summit will be hosted by Telenor Group CEO Baksaas, in collaboration with the Nobel Peace Center, a renowned strategic sponsorship held by Telenor for many years.
For further details about the summit, please visit Telenor Group’s press release here.

For more information about Esplori email [email protected]

The Future of Society and new ways of learning - Lecture at the University Of Life Sciences in Oslo, Norway

Here's a professional recording of my lecture at the University Of Life Sciences Oslo, Norway, on The Future of Society and new ways of learning.

In November 2013 I held three lectures while he was in the Oslo area. The one on the video was at The University of Life Sciences at Ås (UMB) arranged by StartUMB. The other lectures were held at 657 Oslo: Coworking, communication & purpose, and the last at Chateau Neuf: The Norwegian Student Society arranged by Das Kapital (Radio Nova) and Foreningen for Ressursbasert Økonomi (FRØ).

The pace of technological innovation is speeding up at an ever increasing rate. This is bringing unprecedented and incredibly rapid changes to the economy and society at large, particularly in the job market.

Automation is removing jobs like never before, while comparatively few new jobs are being created by the new digital economy. This might be one of the greatest challenges that we've ever faced, but it could also represent our biggest opportunity. What can people and companies do right now to avoid being swept away by the exponentially increasing technologies that are coming to the market? What can governments do to provide for their people? What will be the future of work and of society? What will the transition look like, who will benefit from it, and who will be left behind?

I think there is hope for the future, as new technologies for learning and sharing knowledge are becoming more accessible, ubiquitous, and people are engaging more in collaborative, open projects. Years of research, discussion, and activism have shaped my worldview and gave me clarity about how I want to positively impact hundreds of millions of people.

I first wrote a book, "Robots Will Steal Your Job, But That's OK", which I released also for free on my website and started a global discussion on the topic, and more recently I founded a startup, Esplori, to enable the sum of human knowledge to be made available to anybody, via online video courses, regardless of their language, geographical location, or financial status.

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Sept 19, Keynote speech at IT Innovation Day in Amersfoort, Netherlands


I am honored to be delivering the keynote speech on September 19 at It Innovation Day in Amersfoort, Netherlands, to hundreds of entrepreneurs and change makers. Looking forward to it.

You can check out the full program here.

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