Waterloo Symposium on Technology & Society

About the Symposium Series

Symposium Founding Sponsor: Savvas Chamberlain, EXEL Research Inc.

Symposium Organizer: Mark Sedra, CSG

The Waterloo Symposium on Technology & Society seeks to promote public discourse in Canada and beyond on the societal challenges and opportunities created by innovations in four primary areas: artificial intelligence, robotics, big data and social media. Whether in the economic, security or political sphere, rapid technological change is transforming the way our societies function, and this change will only accelerate in the decades ahead. How can the public and private sectors collectively to maximize the benefits of this technological revolution to drive prosperity, democracy and good governance, while mitigating its most adverse effects, such as social dislocation, wealth inequality and diminishing trust in public institutions? Some of the world’s most renowned thinkers on the societal impacts of technology will be featured in the series. It will be held at one of Canada’s premier schools for international public policy, the Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA), situated in one of the country’s premier tech hubs, the Waterloo Region.

Next Symposium

Symposium No. 1:
Disruptive Technology Do Robots Want Your Job?

Martin Ford explores the ways in which AI and automation (aka, “robots”) are outpacing humans in a range of sectors, from education to law, agriculture to healthcare, management and beyond. He offers a realistic view of what the future of work—and your place in it—will look like. Beyond pragmatic concerns, Ford addresses a bigger question: can accelerating technology disrupt our entire economic system to the point where a fundamental restructuring is required? This next industrial revolution, Ford argues, will not be like the last one. In the past, even as jobs were eliminated, jobs were created to replace them. Increasingly, new machines will be able to take care of themselves, making fewer jobs necessary. Will basic, guaranteed income be implemented? How will education reflect our changing society? We are at an inflection point: Do we continue to listen to those who argue that nothing fundamental has changed, and take a bad bet on a miserable future? Or do we begin to discuss what we must do to ensure all of us, and not just the few, benefit from the awesome power of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other breakthroughs? This exciting talk is both an exploration of this new technology and a call to arms to address its implications.

Date & Time:
Tues. April 16, 2019
7:00PM – 10:00PM EDT

Balsillie School of International Affairs (Auditorium)
67 Erb Street West

Waterloo, ON N2L 6C2

Symposium Agenda:

7:00pm – 8:00pm: Keynote Lecture by Martin Ford

8:00pm – 9:00pm: Panel Discussion featuring Martin Ford, Ryan Gariepy, William Melek and Joël Blit, with moderation from CSG Executive Director Mark Sedra.

9:00pm – 10:00pm: Reception (Beer, Wine, Soft Drinks and appetizers will be served)

Eventbrite - Waterloo Symposium on Technology and Society

Keynote Speaker:

Martin Ford

Martin Ford is the founder of a Silicon Valley-based software development firm and the author of three books: Architects of Intelligence, the New York Times bestselling Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, and The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future. He has over 25 years of experience in computer design and software development, and holds a computer engineering degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and a graduate business degree from UCLA. He has written for publications including Fortune, Forbes, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Project Syndicate, The Huffington Post and The Fiscal Times. Ford has also appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including programs on NPR and CNBC.


Ryan Gariepy: Chief Technology Officer and co-founder of Clearpath – the largest and fastest growing robotics company in Canada.

William Melek: Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Waterloo. He also serves as the Director of Mechatronics, the Director of the Laboratory of Computational Intelligence and Automation, and the Director of RoboHub.

Joël Blit: Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Waterloo  and and Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).


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