Communitech’s annual Tech Leadership Conference (TLC) which was held last Thursday, May 12th of 2016 at Bingemans in Kitchener, counted with more than 800 spectators and aims to answer the big questions that the unexpected challenges of the Digital Era have leveraged, by exploring shifts in the marketplace and predicting where the world is headed. The TLC featured presentations of more than 10 speakers on topics such as robot ethics, marketing for tomorrow, artificial intelligence and building the brain.
The Restless-Genius of Ray Kurzweil on The Impact of 3dP towards Society
One of the main speakers was Ray Kurzweil, a 68-year-old New-Yorker who is considered one of the world’s leading thinkers, inventors and futurists. With five best-selling books on artificial intelligence and other technology trends, the Wall Street Journal calls him -the restless genius-.
Ray foresees a future in which the technology of 3dP utterly challenges and transform the manufacturing field. In Asia, builders are creating small offices-buildings using modules produced by 3d printers. Aerospace firms have created jet engines and cars from printed parts. It all affirms that the impact of 3dP in the manufacturing industry could be disruptive. Jobs will be lost and manufacturing will be turned into an information-technology system, Kurzwiel (2016) predicts.
Manufacturing won’t be the only industry affected from the 3dP technology. Technology will also impact fashion, human health and biotechnology, Kurzwiel adds.
Ray (2016) points out that there is the possibility of people printing out their own clothing, which will directly threat the fashion industry. However, Kurzwiel (2016) argues that brands could benefit from the 3dP revolution as ideas could explode by encouraging people to design, make and share clothes designs using 3D printers, linking open-source design and open-source production environment with brand success.
In relation with human health and biotechnology, stem cells will be able to be programmed to rejuvenate heart-attack victims, genes can be manufactured and injected into the body to reduce pulmonary hypertension, and tiny robots can be inserted into the brain to extend a user’s thinking power with the capability to be at the same time connected to computers in the cloud in order to gain access to vast amount of data in seconds.
Robin Chase, the Founder and Former CEO of Zipcar on The Importance of Embracing a Collaborative System
Robin Chase, the founder and former chief executive of Zipcar, the world’s largest car-sharing company, and an expert on innovation and the sharing economy, was a speaker at the TLC. Chase (2016) argues that the shared and collaborative economy provides the best solution to the growing threat f climate change, as shared knowledge and assets generate constant ideas in a more efficient way. He (2016) states that the success of the Zipcar is linked to its creation to leverage -the excess capacity- of the automobile. Being the car the second most expensive purchase most people make, people only use five per cent of a day. Car-sharing therefore, works because it is based on participation and collaboration and it aims to treat customers as members, Chase (2016) states. He argues that the only way a closed system could survive is by working hand on hand with a collaborative system by using each other’s strengths to come up with solutions to global problems. Individuals bring creativity and local knowledge, while companies offer large investments, manufacturing capacity and growth-management. She calls this “Peers Inc.,” the peers standing for individuals and the Inc. for large companies.
Adam Green, the Owner of an Advertising Agency Relations for Google Canada on the Topic of Marketing Tomorrow
Apart from these two keynote speakers, personalities as Adam Green, who runs advertising agency relations for Google Canada, spoke on the topic of marketing for tomorrow, that relates to the condition of customers making purchases based on their future, not on the features of the company’s product.
The Impact of 3d Realities as a Topic Discussed by Various Speakers
Kate Darling, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an expert on the interaction of people and machines, spoke on the topic of robot ethics. She argues that robots have many positive uses. For example, cute-looking robots can make autistic children more responsive and act as companions for seniors, or robots can help people learn languages or lost weight more quickly.
Josh Hirsh, a Toronto-based technology strategist, talked about 3d reality, stating that ed reality can transform the architectural and construction industries, by designing buildings more easily and creatively. Or Virtual Reality can transform military conflicts, by recreating battlefields in order to show troops how to move within them. Other uses include enabling people to switch gender to engender empathy for the opposite sex.
Mark Roberge, chief revenue officer at HubSpot, a Massachusetts company that makes software for inbound marketing, argues that besides the massive loss of jobs in media 3d reality could brings, the consequence can be turned into an advantage in the marketing field, as journalists can tell a company’s story to describe its product in a more compelling and emotional way than ordinary sales people.
According to Nikolas Badminton machine-learning systems can spot skin cancer in photos of seniors or work one-on-one with children in schools. They can also make cities run more efficiently by improving traffic flows and operating traffic lights.
Chris Eliasmith, director of the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience at the University of Waterloo, conducted a learning session on building a brain. His lab has built the world’s largest functional brain model, called Spaun, which in addition to solving brain disorders, the model can help scientists and engineers build smarter machines.
Tom Jenkins, former Open Text CEO projects three emerging trend in the tech industry. The first digital disruption, has already had a major impact on manufacturing. Now it is poised to disrupt white-collar sectors such as financial services and banking. The second-trend links to data sovereignty, and it threatens to shake up the information sector. The third trend relates to regulatory frameworks, which is also undergoing change. Regulatory platforms need to become principal-based rather than rules-based to adapt to changing environments.