5 Take-aways #BCTECHSummit


5 take-aways:

1. The future is here.

Everything we have wondered about, that could happen in the future – is already happening right now. Anything you can imagine being done by a robot or artificial intelligence will be done by a robot or AI – and way sooner than you may think.

2. The creative economy is the next revolution.

As menial jobs become obsolete, renewed value will be found in people’s use of their creative imagination. The world will be increasingly dependent on people who can invent, think outside of the box, solve problems, and innovate. Future employees will no longer care what can you do, but what can you make.

3. Data is king.

As AI gadgets or smart electronics infiltrate daily life under the guise of convenience, our behaviours are being tracked in all aspects of life. Where do we shop, what do we buy, when do we turn off the lights in the house or run out of floss for our teeth? Businesses want as much data as possible on their demographics, so they can more accurately  predict customer needs and create highly targeted marketing campaigns. Privacy? Security? The experts openly admit that they don’t have a handle on this yet. AI gadgets from smart sprinklers to thermostats turned on from an app can be easily hacked, and so can the private networks they operate on.

4. British Columbia is bright and shiny, sparkling on the world map.

Tech innovators across the province are making huge strides across all sectors and the world is watching. Investors came from across Canada and the US to source out “the next big thing,” and look for talented creators from developers to designers. The money is real and hungry. Everyone wants to catch the wave and BC is gaining international attention. The Kootenays are glimmering & gleaming in the lead, with representation from KAST, MIDAS, Selkirk College, RDI, Imagine Kootenay, local businesses, start-ups & talent. The Kootenays are aglow!

5. BC Education needs to nurture creatives K-12.

Our world is changing rapidly. If we want to have future influence over the direction it is going in, educational institutions need to shift drastically from creating workers/consumers to thinkers/creators.

Traditional education systems were designed to reward students for following the rules, doing what they’re told, and regurgitating answers with unquestioning compliance. Its been a perfect economic formula. Education feeds a population with a herd mentality that is easy to create work for, sell to, and profit from. But as artificial intelligence replaces our need for labour and regurgitators of facts, the pursuit of knowledge in and of itself, is no longer enough. IBM’s Watson or Google Home can answer questions for you. Robots can replace you.  What matters most now is not what people know, but what people can DO with knowledge. Can they identify potential problems? Ask good questions? Make rich connections? Make new inferences? Test possible solutions? Express new ideas?

So the biggest take-away from the BCTECH summit for me is asking if our kids are being prepared? Do our schools know how to create great thinkers? Do they know how to create creators?

Preparing for a creative economy is not about just handing kids iPads or teaching them coding. It is about creating a mindset. Students need to feel confident being creative from a young age. We need kids to be encouraged to colour outside the lines, feel positive about making mistakes, and learn to challenge the status quo. Schools need to foster rich environments of experimentation, help kids master trial and error, teach them to think for themselves, and tinker with abandon. The great thinkers of our time, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs & Elon Musk, were all tinkerers, self learners, and acted outside the realm of social norms. Everyone is born with creative potential – we just have to start nurturing it from K-12 deeply.

I think the future is friendly (as long as we are a part of it!)

A Big Thank you to Columbia Basin Trust, KAST, Tech Club, Midas, BCIC, my VAP mentors, and tech friends for a great summit experience.