The Future of Work

Imagining what’s possible at SingularityU

By Oren Berkovich

The way we live and work is changing at a rapid pace. From breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and robotics to blockchain and digital biology, change is happening faster than ever before. We all notice something unique is happening, but what most of us miss is the fact that this unique point in time creates unprecedented opportunities for people, organizations and institutions to drive massive impact.

The challenge rests with the fact that intuitively we are projecting into the future based on what we’ve seen in the past. But if you assume the change is accelerating, using past experience as future indicators is a failed strategy. What makes things even more challenging is the fact that all of these techniques are not only accelerating their impact but are also converging between them in unexpected ways. For example, we’ve seen how developments in computational power reduced the cost of sequencing DNA from millions of dollars to hundreds of dollars. Inexpensive sequencing of DNA is now leading to fast developments in personalized medicine, which many believe will have massive implications on longevity. That ripple effect can potentially have massive implications on pension funds, mortgage rates and other areas we can’t even imagine at this point.

We believe this is a unique point in time. An intersection between opportunity and capability. In our mind, the only way to leverage this is to set out on an ongoing journey of learning. A dedicated effort to continuously build a more robust imagination of what the future might look like. The reason is simple: you can’t plan for a future you can’t imagine.

Three years ago we launched an initiative to do just that. We brought Singularity University, a global think tank that enables individuals and organizations with a mindset, skillset and network to drive exponential change, to Canada so more Canadians could get exposed to the wildest ideas that the smartest people are pursuing right now around the world in an effort to tackle the world’s biggest challenges. We believe our future depends on it and that as Canadians, we have the ability, and we argue the responsibility, to drive bigger, more global impact.

From time to time we invite all Canadians to take a short break from the day to day, in order to engage in a strategic conversation about our collective future. On April 23 and 24 more than 1000 leaders from all sectors and regions of the country will be coming to Edmonton for the SingularityU Canada Summit. Together with more than 6000 attendees at a network of satellite events across Canada, we will discuss how exponential technologies are impacting our future and the role each of us can play to make that future one that we’re actually excited about.

There’s never been a more important and challenging time to have these conversations, and we are thrilled to have the summit in Alberta, and Edmonton.

Why Edmonton? Because while other Canadian cities have been in the spotlight, Alberta and Edmonton have been quietly building a robust ecosystem full of startups and leading academic institutions. According to a 2019 report from Youthful Cities, Edmonton is the best city in Canada for youth aged 15 to 29 to work. Just last week, the first ever off-grid office in Edmonton opened to the public. Effect Home Builders revamped an old apartment building, turning it into one of the most energy efficient office buildings in the city.

Stories like these are what make us incredibly proud of our country, and honoured to have Edmonton as the host city for this event.

The Summit will focus on Prosperity, Citizenship, Energy, Inclusion and Health. How are exponential technologies transforming the food industry? What does governance look like in an exponential age? What are the big shifts in healthcare? How do we build an abundant future for all? These are the global grand challenges that we are looking to solve, and the program has been designed to inspire participants to rise to the challenge.

None of this would have been possible without the incredible leadership and grassroot movement that we’ve seen on the ground at Edmonton. Starting with ATB, EPCOR and the City of Edmonton, the movement to bring Singularity University to Edmonton has gathered so much momentum that Deloitte, Suncor, Telus, and many more uncommon partners joined forces and made this vision a reality.

I look forward to seeing you all at the Summit, and learning with you as we explore our (possible) future together.

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