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Economic summit eyes rapidly changing technology


The upcoming State of the Island economic summit will ask whether advances in artificial intelligence are a threat to human kind or a harbinger of a dawning AI utopia.

Those questions top the list of topics to be explored at Vancouver Island Economic Alliance’s 17th annual State of the Island economic summit Oct. 25-26, being hosted once again in Nanaimo.

Ready or not, the future has arrived, ac cording to a VIEA news release promoting this year’s summit, and AI, which can now see, hear, speak, create art and music, write code or poetry, and analyze billions of data points in less time than the blink of an eye, has brought society to the brink of a technological revolution rivalling the invention of the Internet and the industrial revolution.

Graham Truax, Innovation Island executive director, will join guest speakers Sean Mark, an epidemiologist and data scientist, and Lauren Evenow, executive, entrepreneur and investor, to discuss how, as key decision makers, those attending the summit’s opening lunch, titled V.I. meets AI, hold the power to either harness this change for unparalleled growth or watch from the sidelines.

Day 2 of the summit dawns with breakfast with B.C. Premier David Eby, who will participate in a question-and-answer session.

New at the summit this year is the morning Speaker Series happening Wednesday, Oct. 25, 9-11 a.m.

Delegates can start the morning off with thought-provoking discussions on sustainable regional development and explore visionary ideas from innovative change-makers, according to the release. The sessions promise to inspire a passion for propelling organizations into regenerative business models and let participants discover how collaboration can lead to opportunities.

The summit session spotlight is also on Indigenous business and economic development with a talk covering achievements, reflections, and future directions. The discussion will bring together Indigenous business and economic development leaders to shed light on the successes, collaborative partnerships and persistent challenges faced by Indigenous communities. Ian Simpson, CEO of Snuneymuxw First Nation’s Petroglyph
Development Group, will moderate, and speakers include Alison Evans, co-founder of Gulf Island Seaplanes; Aaron Hamilton, operations manager of Cowichan First Nation; J.P. Obbagy, senior manager of tourism development with Homalco First Nation; and Jason Wilson, manager of economic development with We Wai Kai Nation.

Once again, the summit will include the presentation of the State of the Island economic report, which this year will look at how innovation marches forward. Susan Mowbray, partner at MNP consulting group, will introduce and give highlights from the 2023 report. An all-new digital dashboard will be revealed, enabling personalized exploration of year-over-year reports for various sectors, regions, and industries with real-time updates throughout the year, ensuring access to the latest developments and trends.

The summit will be held at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre. For more information, visit

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