Futurist Sinead Bovell to speak at Tech Week
Leaders must embrace rapid technological change to capitalise on the opportunities it will present, a futurist has said.
Sinead Bovell, who is to be a featured speaker at Bermuda Tech Week this month, said: “For so many people, it feels like the future happens to them, not with them.
“And we have a big opportunity to shape the future, to walk towards it – and it is so critical for business leaders, organisational leaders, if you’re in politics, to make sure that you’re stepping towards what’s coming so you’re in control of it.”
She added: “The best thing we can do about the future is prepare for it; it’s not going away. And in fact, it does come with a lot of opportunities if you seize them – and you can be sure that if you don’t prepare for the future, that’s when the surprises become unmanageable.
“At this point in time, although we can’t predict what’s going to happen, we can make some pretty good forecasts and scenarios to help us steer things in a direction that works for us, in our favour.”
Ms Bovell is a futurist – she studies the future for a living – and is a five-times United Nations speaker, and is certified in AI ethics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
A lot of Ms Bovell’s work focuses around emerging technologies – the revolutionary shift that we are stepping into is not industry-specific, she said.
Ms Bovell said: “The learn-work-retire model – that has to get wiped out because when you step into an era where humans may not be the smartest entities in the room, it changes what humans need to then bring to the table.
“In a world with artificial intelligence, it continues to get kind of smarter over time.
“The actual types of problems that you can solve with artificial intelligence are only going to expand going forward.
“We are not stepping into kind of a one-time revolution, or a one-time kind of upgrading of society. The path of the future is constant change and uncertainty.
“So it’s about being prepared so you can handle anything.”
Ms Bovell said the notion of a three-to-five year strategic planning scope no longer applied.
She said: “You literally have to be looking further out into the future. Of course, it’s not about predicting the future, but it’s about setting yourself up so you can handle anything – and you can pivot and you can absorb, and you can capitalise on these technologies.
“If there is technology that allows you to do something twice as quickly, or with a quarter of the amount of resources, if you’re not aware of that, that’s a massive competitive disadvantage – and you can bet that you won’t survive.
“I think a lot of us can kind of relate to the example of Blockbuster, and Netflix coming in. We’re going to be at that size of change, and that intensity of change, continuously going forward.
“But you can look at it as a challenge, or you can also look at it as an opportunity. Either way, you’re going to have to face it so it’s about choosing to be prepared or choosing to kind of walk in blind, and hope for the best.”
Kendaree Burgess is chief executive officer of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, which is presenting Ms Bovell’s talk during Tech Week.
She said Ms Bovell would address topics including innovations in technology in healthcare, the future of education, industries in Bermuda, and planning for the future.
The presentation, “Technology and the Future of Industry – Fireside Chat with Sinead Bovell”, will take place on October 27.