Ray Kurzweil is one of the world’s leading inventors, thinkers, and futurists, with a thirty-year track record of accurate predictions. Called “the restless genius” by The Wall Street Journal and “the ultimate thinking machine” by Forbes magazine, Kurzweil was selected as one of the top entrepreneurs by Inc. magazine, which described him as the “rightful heir to Thomas Edison.” PBS selected him as one of the “sixteen revolutionaries who made America.”
Kurzweil was the principal inventor of the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition.
Among Kurzweil’s many honors, he recently received the 2015 Technical Grammy Award for outstanding achievements in the field of music technology; he is the recipient of the National Medal of Technology, was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, holds twenty honorary Doctorates, and honors from three U.S. presidents.
Ray has written five national best-selling books, including New York Times bestsellers The Singularity Is Near (2005) and How To Create A Mind (2012). He is a Director of Engineering at Google heading up a team developing machine intelligence and natural language understanding.
Robin Chase is a transportation entrepreneur. She is founder and former CEO of Zipcar, the largest carsharing company in the world; Buzzcar, a service that brings together car owners and drivers in a carsharing marketplace in France; and GoLoco, an online ridesharing community. She is also executive chairman of Veniam, a vehicle communications company building the networking fabric for the Internet of Moving Things.
She is on the Boards of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the World Resources Institute and Tucows. She also served on the National Advisory Council for Innovation & Entrepreneurship for the US Department of Commerce, the Intelligent Transportations Systems Program Advisory Committee for the US Department of Transportation, the OECD’s International Transport Forum Advisory Board the Massachusetts Governor’s Transportation Transition Working Group and Boston Mayor’s Wireless Task Force.
Chase lectures widely, has been frequently featured in the major media, and has received many awards in the areas of innovation, design, and environment, including TIME 100 Most Influential People, Fast Company Fast 50 Innovators and BusinessWeek Top 10 Designers. She is author of Peers Inc: How People and Platforms Are Inventing the Collaborative Economy and Reinventing Capitalism (PublicAffairs, 2015).
Chase graduated from Wellesley College and MIT’s Sloan School of Management, was a Harvard University Loeb Fellow, and received an honorary Doctorate of Design from the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Nik Badminton researches, speaks, and writes about the future of work, how technology is affecting the workplace, how the worker is adapting, the sharing economy and how the world will evolve. He also advises established businesses and startups how to adapt and grow in the new world of evolving technology.
He is a trusted advisor to C-level executives in startups and established businesses across government, telco, high-tech, air transport, travel, pharmaceuticals, gaming, and utilities industries verticals globally.
Dr. Kate Darling is a leading expert in Robot Ethics. She’s a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, where she investigates social robotics and conducts experimental studies on human-robot interaction.
Kate explores the emotional connection between people and life-like machines, seeking to influence technology design and policy direction. Her writing and research anticipate difficult questions that lawmakers, engineers, and the wider public will need to address as human-robot relationships evolve in the coming decades. Forever interested in how technology intersects with society, Kate has a background in law & economics and intellectual property. She has researched economic incentives in copyright and patent systems and has taken a role as intellectual property expert at multiple academic and private institutions. She currently serves as intellectual property policy advisor to the director of the MIT Media Lab.
Jesse Hirsh is an internet strategist, researcher and broadcaster. An experience innovator and collaborator, his passion is educating people on the potential benefits and perils of technology. He has appeared on CBC radio with a nationally syndicated column, and on CBC’s Metro Morning, explaining and analyzing trends and developments in technology.
Jesse owns and operates Metaviews Media Management Ltd., which focuses on research and consulting around new media business models, big data, and the strategic use of social media. He is also a co-founder of the Academy of the Impossible a peer to peer lifelong learning facility.
Because of the impact technology has on our relationship with the world, Jesse believes that it should be used in responsible and creative ways. He encourages audiences to use technology as the catalyst for collaboration, education, and growing thriving organizations.
As director of the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience at the University of Waterloo, Prof. Chris Eliasmith uses mathematics and computer modelling to study the brain processes that give rise to behaviour. His lab developed the world's largest functional brain model, Spaun, whose 2.5 million simulated neurons provide insights into the complexities of thought and action.
Spaun was built using patented neural compiler software, Nengo, that allows large-scale, robust neural networks to be built for the next generation of brain-inspired micro-processors currently being developed by researchers and major chip makers. This software provides new methods for developing sophisticated robotic control, deep-learning networks, and artificial agents. Dr. Eliasmith and his lab team have formed Applied Brain Research Inc. to commercialize these technologies.
Mark is Chief Revenue Officer of HubSpot Sales Division. Prior to this role, Mark served as HubSpot's SVP of Worldwide Sales and Services from 2007 to 2013, during which time he increased revenue over 6,000% and expanded the team from 1 to 450 employees. These results placed HubSpot #33 on the 2011 INC 500 Fastest Growing Companies list. Mark was ranked #19 in Forbes' Top 30 Social Sellers in the World. He was also awarded the 2010 Salesperson of the Year at the MIT Sales Conference. Prior to HubSpot, Mark founded and/or held executive positions at start-ups in the social media and mobile sector. Mark started his career as a Technology Consultant with Accenture.
Adam runs creative advertising agency relations for Google Canada. Prior to Google Adam worked as a management consultant, a renewable energy sector entrepreneur / engineer and an analyst in the computer hardware industry. He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Queen's University and is a proud grad school drop-out. When he's not working you can likely find him outside skiing, mountain biking, rock climbing or playing in the park with his daughter.
After running product development and marketing for a large software company (which was acquired by Thomson Reuters in 2008) Sarah went on to be the founder of Sprouter, which was one of the world's first online communities providing real‐time advice to startups. The platform was acquired in 2011 and she went on to build BetaKit. After joining forces with talented business leaders from some of the world’s top companies like LEGO, Virgin and Starbucks, Sarah co‐founded BrandProject actively investing in early-stage startups across a wide variety of industries.
Sarah is passionate about education and getting smart people to work on transformative ideas. She is a relentless advocate for youth entrepreneurship and is the Founder and CEO of Future Design School (FDS). FDS facilitates innovative curriculum and teacher training for schools looking to encourage entrepreneurship with their students. The organization is building a network of innovation‐focused micro‐schools across North America.
Michael is the co-founder and CEO of the leading Video Marketing platform, Vidyard. When he's not bringing leading video based technologies to market, he serves as general partner of Garage Capital, a seed stage fund focused on Super-Cluster companies looking to expand their networks into Silicon Valley. Michael also sits on the Communitech Board of Directors; a KW based organization designed to help companies start, grow and succeed.
Neil Wainwright is the CEO and co-founder of Nexonia, providing leading web and mobile business financial and time management solutions. Neil has over 30 years of technical engineering experience and has been an entrepreneur in building and managing businesses for over 25 years. Nexonia was founded by Neil and Pascal Paradis-Théberge in 2002, launching their first products in 2004.
Tom Jenkins is Chair of the Board of OpenTextTM Corporation (NASDAQ: OTEX, TSX: OTC) of Waterloo, the largest software company in Canada. He is the Chair of the National Research Council of Canada and the tenth Chancellor of the University of Waterloo. Tom Jenkins has been active for more than 30 years in innovation and economic development in both the private and public sectors. Tom is a member of the board of directors of Manulife Financial Corporation, Thomson Reuters Inc., and TransAlta. He is a director of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE) and the Chair of the Advisory Board of the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary and he is a member of the Advisory Council of the Royal Canadian Air Force. He is a founder of Communitech in Waterloo.
Robin Chase: The Sharing Economy
Robin will shed a light on the success ingredients of Zipcar, Uber, smartphone apps and other data-driven innovations that are disrupting every sector of the economy. What is the role of technology, and what are the unique powers of people? Why and how have these companies scaled exponentially and spread so quickly? How can we tap into the power of people to address the world's opportunities?
Kate Darling: Robot Ethics and the future of Human-Robot Interaction
The robots are coming and they’re getting smarter, evolving from single-task devices (think Roomba) into machines that can make their own decisions and autonomously navigate public spaces. From transportation systems, hospitals and the military, to the robotization of our workplaces and households, robots will be everywhere and will increasingly interact with people. Whether you find it exhilarating or terrifying (or both), progress in robotics and related fields like AI raises new ethical quandaries and challenges legal codes created for a world in which a sharp line separates man from machine. Drawing from her recent work exploring humans’ emotional responses to robots, Kate will examine why people fear some robots and empathize with others, while also prompting – and answering – questions about what society’s relationship with these robots could look like in the future. What follows is in part an examination of the technology itself, but ultimately, offers a window into how it’s poised to change the way we relate to each other and our own humanity – and why it matters.
Jesse Hirsh: Hacking Reality
While consumer applications of Virtual Reality and Hacking Reality may be getting all the attention, the real and substantive success of these technologies are to be found in industrial and commercial applications. Where and how are these exciting technologies having an impact, and what does this say about leadership and authority in the era of the Internet? What are the platforms and technologies driving these new realities, and where is all the content and data going to come from? Beyond games and entertainment, this learning session will focus on the relevant applications of VR and AR, and how anyone can learn to hack reality.
Adam Green: Marketing for Tomorrow
Marketing is personal. Technological advances allow us to target with great precision and gain intel and detailed insights about our customers, but most digital ad campaigns fall short of these ideals. Adam will discuss how to keep the ever-so-important human element in marketing in this increasingly technology-saturated world.
Mark Roberge: Sales and Scaling
Through his career, Mark Roberge has used his engineering and analytical roots to pioneer what he calls the Sales Acceleration Formula. In this session, Mark will outline the details behind the four pillars of his formula:
- Using predictive analytics to hire the same successful salespeople every time (The Sales Hiring Formula)
- Codifying sales training to yield the same successful output (The Sales Training Formula)
- Implementing a modern lead generation strategy to provide a consistent quantity and quality of leads (The Demand Generation Formula)
- Using metrics to coach and develop salespeople to work leads successfully (The Sales Management Formula)
Nikolas Badminton: Artificial Intelligence
- The birth of AI - where did it come from and where are we today?
- AI in industry - the future of Machine-to-machine (M2M), factories, businesses
- AI in everyday life - personal robots, home management, Internet of Things
- AI and its relevance to the startup ecosystem - what startups needs to know and apply to their businesses.
- What opensourcing AI will do for society - impacts in healthcare, Internet of Things, Big Data processing (Google and Facebook have just done this)
- How can we manage ethics and equality in AI applications? What rights will AI have once it becomes more conscious?
Chris Eliasmith: Building a Brain
New and powerful algorithms have been discovered by mimicking central aspects of how the brain works. These algorithms have recently beat the world Go champion, and are now in regular use for image classification and face recognition. In this talk, Chris will describe a variety of neural algorithms that have important implications for future technology. As well, he will emphasize key differences between traditional computing and these algorithms that suggests the next generation of computer hardware will see the introduction of specialized, "neuromorphic" chips. Chris will describe the benefits and limitations of both these algorithms, and the neuromorphic hardware on which they can efficiently run.