Lee Davy finds time to talk to the former Winamax sponsored pro, Manuel Bevand, about his forthcoming appearance on the Ted Conference stage.
Anyone that watches Manuel Bevand playing poker can quickly deduce that this is a smart man. So I wasn’t surprised, albeit a little envious, when I learned that he was about to make his Ted Conference debut at the TEDx Ecole Polytechnique in Paris on 23 April 2015.
It’s not easy talking in front of some of the smartest engineering students in the world.
But if anyone can do it, Manub can.
Talking at a Ted Conference is a bucket list goal of mine. How did this become something that you wanted to do?
“Well, I suppose everyone has something to say? When I started watching TED talks I became hooked and started wondering about what I would say on that stage. I put it on my bucket list, and attended my first event (TedXClapham) as a spectator, but I didn’t know I would have to speak three months later. The opportunity just presented itself and I’m super excited.”
How did it present itself?
“The TEDx organizers wanted a games expert. They asked my dear friend, and former Winamax teammate Almira Skripchenko, who wasn’t available, but she mentioned me. They sent me an email, I replied with a few proposals and they appeared very interested. After a few email exchanges I was booked, it’s that simple!”
What were the types of proposals you put forward and which one did they choose?
“I have enough material for 100 talks I think, but I proposed two of them: one about the current explosion and intriguing future of gaming (with major cultural and even metaphysical implications) and another one about the intricate, mutually nurturing relationship between humans, AIs and games. After some thought I decided that the second one was more appropriate for the audience (top engineering students), so that is the topic I will be talking about. So it’s not about poker, but there will be bit of poker in it obviously. I should also mention that I’m a video game designer by trade.”
Does your talk have a specific title?
“The title is not certain yet, but since the theme of the conference is “Anticipation” I have proposed :”Playing is Anticipating:”.
Talk a little bit about your preparation and practice for the talk
“Well, I have just started so there is not much to talk about yet. I have done a bit of research already, I’m thinking about the articulation of my arguments and also how to make it entertaining. I will probably be taking some public speaking coaching and I have already contacted some key people in the games AI community.”
What are your fears?
“None, really, I feel super confident. I just hope I will make it interesting and fun to watch, and also original enough so that it inspires a few people.”
Finally, can you give me a little insight into the crux of the discussion and how long it lasts.
“TED talks are limited to 18 minutes and I intend to use that allowance fully. I can’t get into details about the talk itself (it has to be exclusive to the conference) but it will be about Man, AI and Games, and how we can use that trio in new ways to solve real world problems.”