For two days this week, CEOs, authors and entrepreneurs descended upon the Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto to take part in the first ever Singularity University Canada Summit.
SingularityU Summits exist for the purpose of discussing what an abundant future looks like, with speakers touching on topics including decentralized currency, the future of transportation and exponential technology growth. The Toronto edition was no different as over 40 different speakers hit the stage, speaking at length about their fields of expertise.
Many of the discussions pushed into the hypothetical and looked at what the modern world may turn into soon. SingularityU and XPrize founder Peter Diamandis began the event with grandiose visions, telling the crowd to consider how far humanity has progressed over such a short amount of time. The exponential growth of technology would serve to be a key theme throughout the rest of the speakers’ presentations, as Diamandis finished by quizzing the crowd, asking “What’s your moonshot?” and pleading with every CEO and entrepreneur to ensure their company is working towards something most people might find impossible to achieve.
Diamandis also unveiled that the 2017 XPrize will be tackling Alzheimer’s, led by Canadian doctor Philip Edgcumbe as the bold innovator.
This is the first time in SingularityU Summit’s 11-year history that an event was held in Canada. The first Summit was held at Stanford University in 2006 and has since expanded to reach several different countries, including a Summit in South Africa this year.
Diamandis explained the SingularityU Summit in Canada comes at a pivotal moment for the country.
“Canada has a choice of not being as complex or ingrained as the U.S government or their industrial military complex is, Canada has a choice to lead,” explained Diamandis. “But the country has a new choice coming, as a lot of their financial underpinnings are in petroleum, which is going away.”
“A city, a province, a nation has a choice. We can either be crushed by it, because it is going to change regardless. Or you can lead it. This is the conversation here.”
Oren Berkovich, the CEO of SingularityU Summit Canada, also explained how the country is in the right spot at the right moment.
“With our diversity and drive for innovation and impact, Canada is uniquely positioned to take on the world’s biggest challenges. We have the talent, the passion, and the skills to lead and it is time the world knew,” he said. “Learning should be a lifelong journey and SingularityU Canada Summit is the platform that can enable us to do that.”
Beyond the speakers and the main stage events, SingularityU also set up a lab to allow local companies the opportunity to demonstrate the amazing work happening in Toronto and Canada as a whole.
Kitchener’s Cloud DX was on hand to show off Vitaliti, a wearable medical device designed to measure vitals and diagnose diseases like asthma and TB. It took home XPrize’s Epic Bold Innovator award and $100,000 earlier this year.
Markham’s Pond Technologies showed off a device that captures emissions and turns them into algae within a bioreactor. The well-documented hitchhiking robot Hitchbot, the brainchild of two Toronto professors, also made an appearance, posing for selfies and wearing that trademark smile.
Perhaps the most engaging use of technology was the SingularityU guides themselves, helping Summit attendees find their way around. The guides were all legally blind but used wearable glasses from the Toronto-based eSight to find their way—another Summit first.
The Summit concluded with a call to action, as other cities in Canada were invited to host the 2018 Summit. A brand new SingularityU Canada Executive Program was also announced, taking place at Niagara-on-the-Lake from April 30 to May 3, 2018. The three-day course will bring together Canadian leaders to explore exponential technologies.