The award-winning virtual reality film “Tree” offers a rare multisensory experience of becoming a rainforest tree from a seedling in just 15 minutes. Reading a short speech into a microphone analyzes your voice and tells who you are — your sex, height, skull type, personality and emotional state. A high-resolution video camera identifies you from 500 meters away.

These computational imaging and artificial intelligence-driven technologies were all on display at the World Economic Forum’s conference in Tianjin, China, last week. Some 2,500 leaders from politics, academia and a range of business sectors, including many startups, from around the world gathered in the city for the Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2018 — often dubbed the “Summer Davos” — where they experienced these advanced technologies and discussed how those such as AI and blockchain will influence society in the coming years.

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