Montréal is on the cutting edge of emerging trends at SXSW!
Few tech conferences in the world can boast of being the epicentre of such revolutionary product launches as Merkat and Twitter, legendary parties and controversies as lively and exciting as South by Southwest. SXSW (for those in the know) is a festival dedicated to creativity and innovation combining technology, music and cinema and for over 30 years, this Austin-based festival has been a capacitor of great ideas. Never been to Texas’ cool capital city? Check out this Sonic Highways episode, hosted by Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters for an unforgettable taste.
A launch pad for great ideas
Last year, more than 75,000 people from over 100 countries came together to discover, influence and celebrate the future of technology, entertainment and the resulting global culture. The Québec government and several representatives of Montréal’s creative and entrepreneurial sector have been a regular part of SXSW to further conversations on innovation. The nerve centre for Team MTL will be Canada House, where our delegates will share both their gray matter (via conference events and panels) and party energy (including this soiree you won’t want to miss).
Backing up the brand
We know our reputation on the world stage is a hip, cutting-edge city with a unique multi-cultural flare. But how do the technological ideas born in Montréal compare to those emerging and pollinating the SXSW conference as a whole – not to mention shape the world of tomorrow? To answer this question, let’s look at the most popular trends of last year’s SXSW and let Montréal’s accomplishments speak for themselves.
1. The rise of Bitcoin MTL
Bitcoin and cryptocurrency are on everyone’s lips across the world – but did you know that several major developments in the technology are Montréal based? Blockstream, one of the technologies that propels Bitcoin protocol, was launched here, and Montréal is also home to the world’s first bitcoin embassy. And thanks to low operation costs and a great talent base for well-trained employees, Montréal is emerging as an international hub of cryptocurrency.
2. Wear your health on your sleeve
Several local startups are key figures in the field of smart clothing, a technology that captures biometric data from within the fabric, optimizing the health of the wearer. Montréal’s OMsignal has partnered with Ralph Lauren on the PoloTech shirt, a training suit constructed from polyester, nylon and silver which also measures heart rate, calories burned and the intensity of physical activity. Hexoskin, another Montréal startup making waves, has developed the Astroskin, using software capable of collecting valuable scientific data on the vital signs of NASA astronauts.
3. A world leader in Artificial Intelligence
One of several leading AI-initiatives based in Montréal, Element AI – founded by University of Montréal professor and leader in the study of deep learning Yoshua Bengio – has benefitted from a record $137.5 million investment, the largest investment of its kind for a company operating in artificial intelligence in the world. Furthermore, Montréal is also home to the world’s largest concentration of AI researchers.
4. The rise of smart cities
Cities must change to better respond to future shocks, from climate change to increased connectivity, migratory flows and other threats. Resilience and active collaboration are key, and Montréal is a leader in this line of thinking with its Smart City office (recently re-christened the Laboratory of Urban Innovation of Montréal) working with 140 other major world cities in looking ahead at the future of urban life.
5. Ethical Design
In order to provide the world with an ethical framework to guide international AI development, more than 500 experts in the field worked together to draft the Montréal Declaration for a Responsible Development of Artificial Intelligence. This document aims to promote universal access to AI technology, and promotes inclusive, equitable and environmentally friendly development, as well as an open international forum for dialogue. It’s worth memorizing the ten cornerstone principles proposed to guide the ethical development of AI: well-being, respect for autonomy, protection of privacy, solidarity, democratic participation, equity, inclusion and diversity, prudence, responsibility and sustainable development.
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