Coun. Campbell Watt, Jason Cox and Kelly Hopkins listen to futurist Nikolas Badminton at the first FutureBiz Penticton Conference. Steve Kidd/Western News

Penticton businesses get a look at what is to come in the future

Business community responds positively to FutureBiz conference

Attendees at the first FutureBiz Penticton conference got a look at the future, courtesy of futurist Nikolas Badminton.

Talking about what he called “exponential technologies,” Badminton explored how artificial intelligence is going to play a role in the growth of cities, self-driving cars, alternate energy sources and more.

“What is going to happen in the next 12 years, or even in the next 20 or 30 years?” asked Badminton, adding that in the short-term, we overestimate the changes that are coming on the other side of the coin, and the effect of these changes.

Marketing and content specialist Kelly Hopkins said it was food for thought, to “look a little bit further in the future and see where we can start putting some of our resources as a city and see where we can start putting some of our attention and intention.”

City Coun. Campbell Watt was a bit reserved, saying he needed more than a one-hour presentation.

“I think there is stuff in there that the city should be starting turning their attention to,” said Watt. “It certainly takes some thought and conversation.”

Jason Cox, a local entrepreneur and unsuccessful mayoral candidate, said it’s a conversation that has been stirring for some time.

“I think there were things from this that we heard through the election, not only where we have been, but where we are going. I would have loved to see this happen two months before the election instead of weeks after, just to get people thinking about how we move forward and looking to the future, not the past,” said Cox, adding that the speakers had tied together what is going on in Penticton, while Badminton had stirred ideas about how to leverage what already exists with what is coming down the line.

Thom Tischik, executive director for Travel Penticton, has already been thinking about artificial intelligence, though not necessarily from the perspective of self-driving cars.

“I think the subject of artificial intelligence is a bigger item than we all realize, with the amount of data-mining that happens all around us,” said Tischik, adding data-driven customer profiling into the mix.

That’s going to be more and more important for the tourism industry according to Tischik, as companies us it to push information to consumers, based on, in this case, their profile as a traveller.

Diana Stirling, owner of LocoLanding, said that anytime the business community can get together for this kind of discussion about all levels of the economy, and thinking about the future is a good thing.

“We don’t often get the perspective from a futurist, we don’t get the opportunity to have the PIB and city on a panel together,” said Stirling.

Steve Kidd

Senior reporter, Penticton Western News

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