How will technology impact Climate Change, SmartAgrofood Systems, and Public Safety? What challenges does this create? Are there solutions? IEEE Future Directions is generating dialogues in these areas through the IEEE Future Tech Forum (FTF) – and they want your participation.
“Our ambition is to bring global experts from industry, academia and government, discussing leading technology, frontline issues and crucial challenges. We aim to inspire participation and dialogue from a broad sector: women in engineering, young professionals, entrepreneurs, researchers and ethicists, to list a few,” says Christine Miyachi, Chair, IEEE Future Directions Committee (FDC).
One of FTF’s goals is to strengthen relations with industry members, in addition to their partnership with IEEE Industry Engagement Committee. “Research translates into industry because industry is the application of that research. Research can change an industry,” says Kathy Grise, Future Directions Senior Program Director. “A great example of this is how the internet started as a research project, Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). The internet launched a new industrial revolution.”
“We would like to realize an increase in the participation of industry as well as a young generation of engineers. We want to encourage and attract future innovators. Technology affects us all and we need all these interests represented at our events!” says Miyachi.
“FTF is starting with smaller events that build new partnerships and expose innovative technologies. This enables us to better understand our audience and their interests. Our approach is to build one-day or half-day sessions/roundtables on future topics with global speakers and gain broader visibility. We want to foster partnerships, collocate with industry events, and finally launch a signature stand-alone event,” says Samina Husain, co-chair FTF Ad Hoc and FDC Member-at-Large.
Currently, the roundtable topics include Climate Change, Smart Agrofood Systems, Digital Transformation, and Public Safety Technology.
Climate Change Roundtable
FTF’s first event, the Climate Change Roundtable, was held in April and had attendees from every IEEE Region. The event keynote speakers and panelists:
- commented on climate change and associated threats,
- discussed potential ideas for resolutions, and
- highlighted developments/initiatives that contribute to combating climate change.
Topics discussed included: 6G technology and architecture to foster global sustainability impact, climate change and telecommunications, and the Information and Communication Technology sector as an enabler for a more sustainable world.
“The event was a virtual and interactive session, and the presentations generated a number of probing questions from the audience. In addition to the positive feedback we received, the event ran over time, an indication of strong interest and success,” says Miyachi.
The Climate Change Roundtable discussed answers to these questions and more:
- What is the alternative to nuclear energy?
- Can there be an optimal clean energy mix without nuclear?
- What are the impacts of lithium mining on climate change?
Impassioned, Energized Audience
FTF grew out of other successful Future Directions events. FDC ran Technology Time Machine (TTM), which showcased panel discussions and keynote presentations with respect to future technologies’ benefits, challenges, and societal impacts. After that, FDC organized a TedX-like event called IEEE EnLightening. The inspirational event featured short, diverse talks leaving the audience impassioned and energized about the future of technology.
“Thanuka Wickramarathne’s inspirational path to his interest in multi-sensor data fusion and Jeewika Ranaweera’s motivational journey to Silicon Valley and high-speed microprocessors were the highlights of the event,” says Husain.
Drawing on these engaging events and their positive outcomes, FTF was born. Objectives are to have a sustainable conference, which attracts global speakers and participation, and has strong partnerships with industry, academia, and government.
FDC purposely launched FTF with smaller, online events focused on a specific topic because technologies constantly evolve. Having shorter dialogues every few months allows for a greater impact and more opportunities to engage the community. FDC works to see that the events are not just well attended but also drive future discussions, future forums, and long-term activities in IEEE.
“We want to influence future trends as a result of FTF discussions,” says Grise.
“Our final goal is to be a flagship conference on future technology directions. A similar concept to the World Economic Forum but with a focus on technology. We envision this becoming the leading global event that brings engineers, innovators, policymakers, and humanitarians from all over the world to discuss how technology can serve humanity – a mission of the IEEE. We are thinking big – world leaders in government, research, and industry will want to attend – a space for everyone to join together, present ideas, and find solutions,” says Miyachi.
Shape Our Future
“Participation in FTF events can be highly effective at advancing a wide range of professional objectives, building and extending professional contacts, finding mentors and collaborators, and advancing attendees’ subject matter expertise. The variety of session formats used in FTF offer unique experiences and learning opportunities where attendees can sample a range of presentation approaches and styles. Anyone who cares about technology’s benefits, impacts, and solutions should participate,” says Jeewika Ranaweera, co-chair FTF Ad Hoc and FDC Member-at-Large.