Our 5 True North Highlights

“If not us, then who? If not here, then where? If not now, then when?”

 

True North was something special. Communitech CEO Iain Klugman was right, it wasn’t a conference, it was a movement. We’re stoked to be involved, to support the Tech for Good declaration and to attend next year.

Here are our five favourite highlights from last week’s event.

 

Tech for Good Declaration

Former Governor General David Johnston unveiled a guiding Tech for Good philosophy last Thursday. The principles are open for all to amend.

1. Build trust and respect your data.

2. Be transparent and give choice.

3. Re-skill the future of work.

4. Leave no one behind.

5. Think inclusively at every stage.

6. Actively participate in collaborative governance.

7. Continuing the discussion: Questions that still need answers.

What this means to us:

We pledge to continue to use data responsibly and to clearly tell our clients why and how their data is being used. We will meet the changing tech landscape and be inclusive. We will support this declaration to further dialogue about ethical uses of technology.

 

Siya Xuza’s Chant

“If not us, then who? If not here, then where? If not now, then when?”

Galactic Energy Ventures CEO Siya Xuza led audience members through this chant. Xuza asserted that everyone is capable of greatness and that “in doing what you love, the world will love what you do.” His story from a failure-stricken boy trying to fly to an engineering tycoon showed that grit and passion are essential for success. He hopes to inspire Africa with this mentality.

 

‘Badass’ Bozoma Saint John

Uber’s CBO showed that she honours her nickname with a discussion on human connection and motivation. She said moving to Uber was a challenge to rebuild a “lower than the bottom” brand amidst several scandals. Bozoma also explained that “talented women and people of colour” deserve more recognition for their workplace competence, “not just because it’s the right thing to do.” As well, and inspiringly, she discussed a time she brought her Uber driver to meet his favourite singer over dinner.

 

From Doolittle to Didlots

Robyn Doolittle, an investigative Globe and Mail journalist, passionately spoke about her article, “Unfounded.” The story featured dozens of dismissed sexual assault cases in Canada, which prompted police forces nationwide to reform their investigative practices. She’s since helped several victims receive justice. Doolittle credits data and the internet’s power to democratize for this effect.

 

Stranger Than Fiction Panel

“Black Mirror” creator Charlie Brooker, Oscar-winning filmmaker Spike Jonze and MIT Media Lab roboticist Kate Darling closed the event with a fun discussion on the ethics and inspirations behind technology. Each contributed fascinating insights. Darling noted that we sympathize with robots like we sympathize with other people, and suggested we consider the ethics of “torturing” machines; Jonze claimed that his movie “Her” wasn’t about the state of technology, rather, it was a product of it; Brooker responded that to “unsettle people,” it’s preferable to have “one foot based in reality.”

 

The Takeaway:

True North was inspiring. It was an expertly-crafted celebration of what rocks about Waterloo region. Continue to support the True North movement by following Communitech and the Tech for Good declaration.

 

Thanks for reading! Check us out on Twitter, LinkedIn or our website.

 

By Jack Mitchell and Wes Worsfold

 


Jack Mitchell
Jack is a Laurier Business student and is passionate about all things tech


Wes Worsfold is CEO and co-founder of BitBakery Software located in Waterloo Region.


4 Ways Tech Continues to Flourish in Waterloo Region

We’re excited about the True North conference happening next week.

Next week, Waterloo Region will host one of the largest tech conferences in Canada – True North. We’re excited about joining the conversation about how to use Tech for Good. And, there is lots of good happening in Waterloo Region when it comes to tech.

1. We’re making AI our friend – 3 Waterloo companies using AI for Good

Formed in 2017, Kiite helps sales professionals to be more productive using AI. Siblings Joseph Fung and Donna Litt founded Kiite and have raised over $3 million and currently employs 15 individuals.

Greta Cutulenco co-founded Acerta to use big data and machine learning to help car manufacturers. Acerta uses deep learning to analyze the safety of each vehicle before release. Feedback is continuously processed to improve the software. In doing so, Acerta has helped clients “achieve a new standard of quality and improved KPIs.”

Emagin is another key player. Their focus is using AI to manage water and wastewater facilities. They specialize in emergency preparedness and anomaly detection. Their methods – which harness the power of the cloud, big data, and virtual assistants – have shown to reduce operational costs. Emagin was also nominated as a top ten global digital water company.

2. Thriving startup ecosystem

Startups are supported by a strong network of organizations such as Communitech, the University of Waterloo’s Velocity programs, the Accelerator Centre, Wilfrid Laurier’s LaunchPad and Conestoga College’s Centre for Entrepreneurship.

These organizations offer business advice, hands-on help for recruiting and innovating, workspaces, as well as investment and networking opportunities.

3. Fostering productive AI

The recently announced Waterloo AI institute embodies this spirit. The center intends to transform “how we work, how we travel, how we treat disease, how we communicate, and how we learn.” The research will accentuate the work of AI enthusiasts such as Dr. Alex Wong and Dr. Fakhri Karray. A core focus will be uniting disciplines, teachers, and students in the investigation of AI.

Waterloo has an important role to play as the heart of Canadian AI innovation. Moving forward, more research into machine learning will help tech advance safely and productively. This institution is well-positioned to allow Waterloo to further support its vibrant community. Learn more about it here.

4. Join the discussion at the True North conference

Waterloo Region is home to the True North conference, running May 29-31. Join other leaders to discuss the state of the tech sector and how it is impacting society and our daily lives.

The conference features Craig Silverman (the guy who coined “fake news”), Ed Catmull (co-founder of Pixar), Bozoma Saint John (CBO of Uber), Siyabulela Xuza (founder of Galactic Energy Ventures) and Spike Jonze (director).

Evenings feature #TNDTK festival events such as tours of startups and other points of interest, a concert by the Beaches and an incredible night of technology, sound, and electronics at THEMUSEUM in Kitchener.

Betakit has a great post covering all the True North events. Help make True North awesome and join the conversation. Buy tickets here.

 

Thanks for reading! Check us out on TwitterLinkedIn or our website.

By Jack Mitchell and Wes Worsfold


Jack Mitchell
Jack is a Laurier Business student and is passionate about all things tech


Wes Worsfold is CEO and co-founder of BitBakery Software located in Waterloo Region.