Idea City Toronto 2013 – Big Ideas or Big Misses?

Earlier this month my classmates and I were lucky enough to be invited to Idea City in Toronto.


Hosted by Canadian media-mogul Moses Znaimer, the three-day conference showcased some of the biggest ideas from the world’s smartest people.

I watch TED talks all the time; I love them. So as you can imagine, I was pretty excited to attend Idea City and watch some of the best speakers discuss the newest technologies and most brilliant innovations.

The speakers did not disappoint (well,  some did… but let’s move on) and overall I really enjoyed the presentations. I found myself strangely intrigued by things that had never previously spiked my interest. Kathleen Kajioka‘s detailed explanation of Johann Sebastian Bach’s musical-mathematical genius and Don Tapscott’s take on the technological takeover from the net generation were amongst my favourites.


Although the presentations were impressive, I mean who doesn’t like learning about real life robots and flying cars, I couldn’t help myself from thinking about huge amounts of time, energy, and money put into these ventures. Promises of a 2.5 hour trip to China  only costing a few billion dollars, flying-car infrastructures for only a few trillion dollars – Who can even think in dollar amounts that giant?!

I acknowledge that these entrepreneurs and innovators would probably argue that their visions and creations would in fact better our society and  country somehow, but I just can’t seem to wrap my head around something: why are robots getting treated better than some of our living, breathing Canadian citizens?

Why do we really care if the robot sees its reflection or not when there are children who don’t eat breakfast every day? In 2012, 38.6 per cent of the 412, 998 people who required Food Bank services were children. That’s 156, 939 children who weren’t getting enough food and nutrition every day (Hunger Count 2012).

It all just seems silly to me, so trivial. I don’t know about you, but I would really rather a venture capitalist focus their investments on a solution to national hunger instead of trying to get a creepy human-like robot to have “real human emotions.”

Imagine the possibilities if we were to put billions and trillions of dollars into each other instead of new technologies, if we came together and actually helped each other? It would be incredible – a true innovation and cultural advancement.

Ashton Says: If we can develop flying cars and sentient robots, we can certainly create a few more breakfasts on the table each morning – don’t you think? Something’s gotta change; our priorities are way out-of-whack. “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Ghandi



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