#SpeakerSpotlight: Nikolas Badminton, Futurist & Author

Nikolas Badminton is a world-renowned futurist speaker that speaks at international conferences on how society is changing in these tumultuous times.

He has written for and appeared in VICE, Globe & Mail, Forbes, TechCrunch, CKNW, Roundhouse Radio, CTV, CBC, BBC Radio, and in hundreds of publications around the world talking about the future.

Always on the cutting edge, Nikolas will share his eye-opening thoughts about the upcoming Digital Revolution in his keynote address at the Wavefront 2017 IoT Summit, May 1-2 in Toronto. Find out more about this provocative prognosticator.  

Canadian Futurist Nik Badminton shares his thoughts on the Digital Revolution…

What inspired you to pursue a career as a Futurist?

I started coding at 10 years old and knew computing in the real world was the way forward. Ironically I couldn’t study it at secondary school as it was over-subscribed so I dropped out and did it on my own and then at college where I specialized in building database systems from the ground up.

I took a BSc in Applied Psychology and Computing at Bournemouth University and specialized in social network theory, organizational psychology, linguistics, and artificial intelligence.

“I built neural nets for grammar checking in 1995 that caused discussion on whether grammar truly exists or whether we operate through sub-symbolism (insert emoticons, OMG, and LOL in here – ha ha)”.

I then spent 20 years in tech in Silicon Valley, the UK and Ireland, and in management consultancy as a Technical Architect. I moved to Canada in 2008 to work in Advertising. I built teams that hacked their way through restrictive tech solutions (mostly CRM and analytics systems) to deliver great results for my clients. I got bored of software vendors saying “You can’t do that with our software…” so I used my teams to bend the solutions into the shapes I needed.

With regards to futurology, in 2013 I produced Cyborg Camp YVR with Kharis O’Connell and Amber Case which brought 150 people from all over the world. Since then I produced From Now, PRODUCT design thinking evenings, DARK FUTURES (which is in its 3rd year now), and launched FUTURE CAMP – an open-source unconference on the future.

I have been full-time as a ‘Futurist’ traveling, speaking and consulting for the last 2 years, but I’ve been doing it all of my life in one way or another. I want everyone to see what I see in how we are changing and equip people with knowledge to make good decisions for their businesses and in their personal lives.

What is the leading trend in IoT for 2017?

Solution providers have been dictating solutions that they feel cities and citizens need. That needs to stop and we need to design what citizens want vs. building widgets we think they need and then forcing adoption. I do like citizen-based systems like Chicago’s ‘Array of Things’. It’s an awesome example of a bank of affordable sensors that allow for learning. It has open-source data that lets academics and companies identify challenges to solve. Watch more here.

I love vertical farms and think they’ll increase and use IoT sensors and controllers to link the farms to farmers and also to retail outlets that stock and sell the produce. I love this video that New York’s Columbia University professor Dickson Despommier imagines filling New York’s skyscrapers with farms. 

Is it a misconception that next generation technologies, specifically AI, will replace humans (i.e. eliminate jobs)?     

No, this will be an absolute fact.

“More than 40 per cent of the Canadian workforce is at high risk of being replaced by technology and computers in the next two decades, according to a new report recently released by The Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship at Toronto’s Ryerson University”.

The report states that automation previously has been restricted to routine, manual tasks. However, breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and advanced robotics now means that automation is moving into “cognitive, non-routine tasks and occupations, such as driving and conducting job interviews.” Read more here.

Another HUGE trend for 2017 will be augmented reality. Meta, Hololens, and Magic Leap will blow the world right open, driving augmented experiences in the real world. But the tipping point will be Apple launching AR in the iPhone 8 later this year. I really want to see transparent screens as well, but that may be a little far off (I’ve put money on it happening this year though with Samsung or Apple).

Are Canadians ready for the Digital Revolution?

No one really is. We always play catch up to the tech companies’ visions. You, me, and more scarily, the government. This means we are ultimate test subjects.

“It’s not as bad as it sounds; however we need to take responsibility on how technology affects society before implications are considered by government, and policies formed”.

Data collection, storage, and transmission has been through this process, and so will drones, self-driving cars, wearables, and wider IoT devices.

Canada Digitial 150 is doing a great job in getting us all connected and ready.

We do need to step up and promote coding for children and adults looking to retrain. Companies are stepping up to help drive this – and I think government needs to as well.

What book is on your reading list for 2017?      

Books? I always feel that books are a little out-of-date when they are published so I rarely read them. But I follow the authors and orators that driven interesting thoughts. Here are the top 5 people and information channels I follow:

  • Scott Galloway at L2 gives incredible insights into the tech markets each week 
  • The Economist has incredible videos to watch to keep you up-to-date on what is going on in the world

I have also just published my 2017 Trends Report as well so do take a look.

Nikolas Badminton, Author & Futurist

Hear Nik deliver the Opening Keynote “The Digital Revolution”, May 1, 2017 at the Wavefront 2017 IoT Summit

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