Our innovation ecosystem is buzzing!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

By Paul Heidebrecht

Looking for extra-curricular opportunities

Logo for Concept at UWaterloo

for students to create tech for good at Waterloo? Join the launch celebration for Concept on Thursday, October 10 from 1:00-3:00 PM in the Student Life Centre. Formerly falling under the brand of Velocity, Concept is “the pre-incubator and early stage program for entrepreneurially curious UWaterloo students.” Resources, snacks, and swag will be available!

Hult prize logo and image of mannequins solving problems

You can then head over to the event space in E7 on Thursday at 4:00 PM to learn more about how you can participate in “the world’s biggest engine for the launch of for-good, for-profit startups,” and compete for a $1M top prize! Fresh off another strong showing at the 2019 Hult Prize global finals at the United Nations in New York City, this week the Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business is kicking off the UWaterloo leg of the 2020 Hult Prize. The topic for this year is Environmental Sustainability and Accountability.

After the break for Fall reading week, the inaugural Summit for

Summit for Responsible Innovation and Technology poster for October 23

Responsible Innovation and Technology is being held at Federation Hall from 8:30 AM-5:30 PM on Wednesday, October 23. Organized by the Waterloo Council for Responsible Innovation and Technology (full disclosure: I’m a member of the Council), the summit will be an opportunity for faculty, staff, and students to provide input into the effort to transform the culture at Waterloo in ways that elevate the priority of ethics and social impact in our teaching, research, and entrepreneurship.

But all is not rosy from a PeaceTech perspective. At the Policy Lab on the Future of Warfare that Project Ploughshares organized this past Monday, Jack Poulson painted a troubling picture of the ways that the interests of big tech are increasingly aligning with the U.S. military. Poulson is a former research scientist at Google who resigned one year ago to protest the company’s plans to launch a censored version of its search engine in China. It was particularly concerning to hear about the ways that companies are using the growing interest in tech for good to provide cover for dual-use technologies—for example, by emphasizing potential applications in the humanitarian sector in their marketing.

All this hit even closer to home when I looked at the university calendar for the week. This morning, defence contractors Lockheed Martin Canada and L3Harris MAS will be hosting recruitment information sessions on campus. Later today FedDev Ontario will be hosting their own information session for researchers and companies entitled “Working with the Defence Industry.” Perhaps this is to prepare for when the Waterloo Defence Research Forum lands in Federation Hall tomorrow. Thankfully, Branka Marijan from Project Poughshares is facilitating a panel on Artificial Intelligence, and future Engineering and Peace guest speakers Sheldon Fernandez and Marcel O’Gorman will also be speaking.

PeaceTech Lab logo

To end on a more positive note, congratulations to the PeaceTech Lab in Washington, DC, as they celebrate their fifth anniversary. One way to keep up with their ongoing efforts to help establish and extend the field of PeaceTech is to sign up for their weekly e-Newsletter.