Recap: Future Forum 2019

8 minute read

By: The organizing team for Future Forum 2019

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On May 6th and 7th we hosted our 5th annual conference. This year we renamed this event the Future Forum to reflect evolution of government beyond just the drive for digital transformation. While this was a visionary concept when the conference was first launched in 2014, by 2019 all government transformation has a digital element and the future of the state is more multifaceted. This year’s event centred around the theme of How to Be Open in the Digital Age as a nod to Canada’s co-chairing of the Open Government Partnership for 2018-2019. Over the course of two days, four keynotes, fourteen panel sessions, and an Unconference with OneTeamGov, we brought in nearly 200 guests and heard from over 60 cutting-edge speakers from across Canada and beyond on topics such as digital government, the pursuit of openness, and ongoing technological disruption.

Some of our highlighted speakers were:

Alex Benay, CIO of Canada, who discussed how every single thing we do is at the service of Canadians.

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Dr. Teresa Scassa of uOttawa, who dove into the details of public and private sector usage of automated decision making.

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Anil Arora, Chief Statistician of Canada, who discussed if data science has made statistics obsolete and the ever-evolving role of Statistics Canada in the 21st century.

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Eli Fathi, CEO of Mindbridge AI, who broke-down the world’s AI researchers and AI research institutes. We learned that Toronto has the largest concentration of AI start-ups in the world!

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Finally, Steve Bennett, Director of Global Government Practice with SAS, who used the examples of Pokémon Go, Black Lives Matter to highlight how social media influencing is the new form of psychological operations when it comes to election seasons.

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We were also delighted to host OneTeamGov Canada as they facilitated the Unconference portion of Future Forum. This Unconference let the participants choose the topics and contribute to the conversation in a relaxed group setting. This is also special year for OneTeamGov as Canada will host the global OneTeamGov conference this May in Victoria, so we were glad to get a preview of the organization and its novel approach to change in government.

Our small team couldn’t have been more pleased with the digital waves made by “#FutureForum2019”. On the first day of the conference, we trended #1 on Twitter for the first time in IOG history (beating out Game of Thrones, though we eventually lost our ranking to news of the royal baby). Over 280 people contributed on social media as they participated in panels and conversations throughout the event. Our analytics show that the Future Forum reached over 100,000 Twitter users on social media. Wowzers!

Perhaps what stands out the most is that no matter how deep into “tech talk” we get, the issues at the core are always human issues: AI regulation always comes back to ethics; open government always comes down to our capacity to achieve it; and data always comes back to who will do the work. The audience at Future Forum were indeed interested in the future – of technology, yes, but more than that, where we as humans fit into this future and what we need to do now to be better later.

Keep your eye out for the full event report in the coming weeks and thanks to those who attended!

About the author

Institute on Governance

Institute on Governance

Founded in 1990, the Institute on Governance (IOG) is an independent, Canada-based, not-for-profit public interest institution with its head office in Ottawa and an office in Toronto. Our mission is ‘advancing better governance in the public interest,’ which we accomplish by exploring, developing and promoting the principles, standards and practices which underlie good governance in the public sphere, both in Canada and abroad.

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