A vision for our technological future

Monday, November 13, 2023
Nenone Donaldson, VP Advancement, talks with event attendees

Alumni and supporters explore how we might improve the future through technological innovation

We can’t predict the future, but we can change it. At the University of Waterloo, we envision a better world for individuals and our planet — and we believe our unconventional foundation will help make this vision a reality.  

On November 7, 2023, UWaterloo alumni and supporters gathered in Toronto for a dinner and discussion about this vision, and how we might shape our technological future. The event opened with and address from UWaterloo’s President and Vice-Chancellor Vivek Goel, who shared insights from the Waterloo at 100 vision and how we can leverage our community’s history of technological innovation to create a better world.  

Seated in small groups, guests were invited to discuss a variety of topics surrounding the world’s technological future and how we might improve it. Guests shared their thoughts on how the startup ecosystem is changing — some asserting that the future lies in deep technology, which takes more patience and time. They also explored examples of industry partnerships that resulted in successful solutions that improve lives. Another topic was pervasive amongst the discussions: the importance of valuing people during technological advances, such as AI. Guests asserted that values should trump key performance indicators. 

Guests had the unique opportunity to hear personal experiences, thoughts and visions from other leaders in the Canadian business landscape. University leaders gathered valuable insights and perspectives from our own community members, who also offered thoughts on how universities can create balance between technological innovation and the ethical considerations that accompany them.  

The next day, we continued discussions about our technological future at WatSPEED’s Tech Horizons Executive Forum, an exclusive event for business leaders that explored emerging technologies and strategies to use them in today’s businesses. Insight and innovation were dominate themes and I was inspired by many luminaries and experts who are leading the way for technological advances in health care, infrastructure, manufacturing, robotics, sustainability and more.  

I especially enjoyed hearing from the many University of Waterloo Alumni and supporters who shared their knowledge with conference attendees, including RBC President and CEO Dave McKay (BMath ’87, DMath ’18), who discussed his thoughts on technological disruption with UWaterloo’s President and Vice-Chancellor Vivek Goel. Another highlight was the Human-Centred AI panel, featuring Signal 1 CEO Tomi Poutanen (BASC ’96) and Appen President Armughan Ahmad, a fierce UWaterloo supporter. Thank you to everyone who attended and made this event possible - the technological future is bright! 

Nenone Donaldson
Vice-President, Advancement