Next generation of Canadian leaders see huge potential in artificial intelligence

As Canada’s largest software company, OpenText is truly excited and optimistic about what the future holds for computing.

On September 26th, I had the opportunity to address over one thousand of Canada’s most promising student leaders at the Canadian Student Leadership Conference (CSLC) in Waterloo. The conference brought together students from across the country. This year’s theme was “startup leadership” and the delegates truly displayed the enthusiasm, drive and passion it takes to innovate, disrupt and be successful in today’s digital economy.

For our part, OpenText conducted an artificial intelligence (AI) workshop with the CSLC 2017 delegates and also engaged students in a discussion on AI and what this technology could mean for their future.

For the next generation of professionals, working with algorithms or shoulder-to-shoulder with robots and machines may be the norm. The students participating in CSLC 2017 will be entering the workforce as three extremes are converging – 4 billion connected people, 1 trillion connected machines and 1 million times more computing power; it’s a time when there is the potential for AI to truly make a difference in our lives.

In order to get their take on the potential for this technology, and understand if it is having an impact on how students are planning their careers, OpenText sent a few questions on AI to the students attending the conference.

The value of AI was clear to the student respondents at the conference, with 70 percent stating that they were optimistic about the benefit of AI to humanity. We asked the students an open-ended question on what big problem areas they wanted AI to address. They wanted AI to improve health care or cure diseases, automate everyday tasks like cooking and cleaning and improve the automotive industry or help with self-driving cars.

However, they were not naive about what this potentially means for the future of work. Forty-nine percent of students were concerned that their future career might one day be replaced by automation or robotics.
This is a real concern for students as they start to plan their careers, and 42 percent of students are taking automation and robotics into account when selecting their educational path. Thirty-two percent indicated that there were career choices they were avoiding because of the potential they might be automated or replaced by robots.

At OpenText, we see huge potential in how AI and automation can help our customers do great things. The students who attended CSLC 2017 may choose to pursue studies in science, math, technology, arts or business, but AI technology incorporates elements from all these disciplines. That’s why it’s important to foster their growth and provide them with opportunities early on to become engaged with the technology. Growing up with a profound knowledge and understanding of technology, this year’s attendees at CSLC could be the ones to design the next disruptive technology or take AI to places it’s never been.

Adam Howatson

Adam is OpenText's CMO and in the last 14 years has served in Product Management, Marketing, Engineering, Information Technology, Office of The President/PMO, Partner Development, and Mergers & Acquisitions. He has developed an extensive awareness of OpenText and its customers, people, culture, products, and markets.

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