We are at the dawn of a new digital era

Everyone and everything will be digitally connected and controllable, allowing an unprecedented level of automation and consequently the ability to 'create time'. The extent of disruption to human existence will be such that this will likely be viewed as the 6th technological revolution of the modern era.

This revolution will result in a massive change in the global techno-economic fabric

There will be a wholesale shift towards a new global-local paradigm where any digital 'good' is accessible, anywhere. Furthermore, with the emergence of ever more sophisticated 3D printing techniques, physical goods would be locally recreated on demand anywhere, at any time. In tandem, these phenomena will drive the 'virtualization of existence'.

The net effect will be to remove all significance of location and create a new real-time, global-digital+local-physical economy, the likes of which has never been seen in human history. The magnitude of change will be comparable in the departure from the past - and impact on the future - to the agricultural revolution 12 millenia ago, the industrial revolution 2 centuries ago.

This revolution is rooted in the dawn of the Information Age

It will be characterized by the shift from industrial activity to an information-based economy, based on emergence of digital computing and digital transmission techniquesm which were in turn based largely on the information theoretic concepts defined by Claude Elwood Shannon.


Bell Labs is celebrating the centennial of Claude Shannon’s birthday — April 30th, 1916 — by hosting a unique two day conference focusing on the future digital information economy and the impact of information theory on society through the years. This special event celebrates Shannon’s life and commemorates his profound impact with the creation of new Bell Labs Shannon Visionary Awards that will be presented at the event, held at the Bell Labs headquarters in Murray Hill, New Jersey.

The Conference

We began our 2-day conference with a gathering of the leaders and visionaries in the Information Society, with provocative and informed discussion of our digital past, present, and future, in the classic Bell Labs tradition. This special event celebrated Shannon’s life and influence and commemorated his profound impact with the creation of the new Bell Labs Shannon Visionary Awards presented at the event. We hosted displays of artifacts from Claude Shannon's life and work and the premier performance by the Human Digital Orchestra™.

Browse the event's photo gallery and videos here.


Download a brochure describing the two-day event

Day One: April 28, 2016

Leaders and visionaries in the information field joined us in a set of talks and fireside conversations, with a provocative but informed discussion of our digital past, present and future. Our guests entertained us with personal recollections of Shannon, as well as an exhibit of previously unreleased Shannon memorabilia. Bell Labs researchers showcased their latest innovations based on new applications of information theory to multiple domains, from social graphs to wireless beamforming and novel future optical transmission systems. We held a student competition in current information theory tools and applications. The day culminated with a performance of the Human Digital Orchestra followed by a gala dinner.

Congratulations to the winners of the first Nokia Bell Labs Shannon Visionary Awards!

  • Amber Case, Cyborg Anthropologist and User Experience Designer
  • Irwin Mark Jacobs, Founding Chairman and CEO Emeritus of Qualcomm
  • Henry Markram, Professor of Neuroscience at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology (EPFL)
  • Robert Metcalfe, Internet Pioneer credited for inventing Ethernet
  • Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Alphabet Inc. and its holding companies including Google Inc.


Day Two: April 29, 2016

We led a series of technical presentations outlining the latest research built upon Shannon’s work in both traditional communications as well as areas like bioinformatics, economic systems and social networks. 

Attending the Shannon Conference

Attendance at the Shannon Conference is by invitation only.


The Human Digital Orchestra™ – a collaboration with Bell Labs Experiment in Art and Technology (EAT) and Stevens Institute of Technology – is an artistic performance that in premiering at this celebration. This performance is a re-start of the Experiments in Art and Technology (EAT) tradition we started almost 50 years ago.

Download a brochure describing the Human Digital Orchestra

Parking information

Please use the main entrance and follow signs to the event parking.


General questions, please contact info@nokia-bell-labs.com