Every year, C2 takes over Griffintown, the swanky Montreal neighbourhood home to many young professionals.

Over the course of 3 days, thousands made their way through the new age conference, stimulated by the incredible opportunities to learn, connect and open their minds to the innovation that calls C2 Montreal home. As a native Montrealer, the reputation for this event skims notorious because of how eclectic it is. Only our fair city could put on an event where the main stage is under a beautiful circus tent, artistic performances keep you connected in between talks, sustainability is a main priority and the food… well, that was, not surprisingly, on point as well. Montreal’s food trucks have become a staple since their re-introduction in 2011 and we couldn’t have been happier to see them parked in the middle of the event offering unique and fresh flavours. Here’s what stood out:

The AI Forum
Right now, artificial intelligence is THE buzzword on everyone’s lips. Large corporations, startups and the academic hubs of the world are propelling the notion that fearing the inevitable is futile because it’s already nestled in our lives whether you want it to be or not. Important conversations revolving around ethics, AI for good, the impact this technology will have on jobs and the education system, as well as the rise of smart cities were front and center during the AI Forum. As a leading AI solutions provider, this was where we felt most at home. 

Group of Stradigi AI employees standing in front of the Cabaret Québec
The Stradigi AI family: Kirk Muller, Basil Bouraropoulos, Carolina Bessega, Jaime Camacaro, Phil Mitsopoulos, Sonia Basili, Michael Rokos, Jessica Marzen, Charles Lesieur, Farida El Kilany, Kira Muller and Ben Tang

Hosted by Element AI, the Stradigi AI family made its way to Cabaret Québec to listen to world-renowned experts in AI such as Hugo Larochelle from Google Brain, Joëlle Pineau from Facebook, Yoshua Bengio from MILA and our very own Chief Scientific Officer, Carolina Bessega, who shared her insights on getting executive buy-in.

AI experts sitting on stage during the AI Forum hosted by C2 Montréal
Moderator Sylvain Carle, Partner, Real Ventures on stage with Carolina Bessega, Chief Scientific Officer, Co-Founder, Stradigi AI, Shelby Austin, National AI Leader, Deloitte Canada, Foteini Agrafioti, Head, Borealis AI & CSO, RBC and Andy Mauro, Co-Founder and CEO, Automat.ai

The takeaway here was quite simple: we are on the cusp of that impending “Fourth Industrial Revolution” we all keep hearing about. In the past, we’ve had entire generations to prepare for these changes, but this one is coming in the next 5 to 10 years. People in the middle of their careers will be affected, entire industries will be disrupted and our aging population cannot be left behind. So, what can you do? It’s quite simple actually… the more you learn, the easier you’ll adapt.

Networking
As a networking experience, C2 is also far ahead of the curve. Business cards? No thanks. Every attendee is given their own klik wearable which allows them to exchange information by simply clicking together two badges. Open the app and find the profile of every person you clicked with during the event, including their LinkedIn profile. Another perk of the app? Leave your credit card at home and use the app to pay for food and drinks to keep your hands free.

Another fantastic initiative to connect with others is through brain dates. In between conferences, master classes, labs, and workshops, C2 gives attendees the possibility to post on a message board looking for others to join in a conversation about a subject they are interested in. Networking isn’t always easy, so the idea of choosing to walk into conversations where you know what to expect removes any stress about the unknown and allows you to plan in advance.

Conferences
If your main goal for attending C2 is to learn and be inspired, you certainly won’t be disappointed. We began with talks by business leaders covering the topic of reconciling their long term visions with the fast-pace of the technology industry. We heard stirring conversations about rethinking our food system, content marketing and creation, climate change awareness, inclusive prosperity and how to create ethical financial systems. We also heard insights and expert opinions about new technologies like blockchain, quantum computing, bioprinting and the emerging opportunities with Canada’s imminent legalization of marijuana. It comes to no surprise that C2 offers something for everyone, even Snoop Dogg.

Rapper Snoop Dogg receiving a personalized Montreal Canadiens jersey
Rapper Snoop Dogg receives a personalized Montreal Canadiens jersey during his appearance at C2 Montréal

The artistically inclined were also happily stimulated. We were treated to a stunning opening ceremony performed by C:LAB, the creative Laboratory of Cirque du Soleil, alluring visual effects, musical guests and a wide variety of labs that stimulated all five senses.

Stand out moments:
82 year-old Dr. Sylvia Earle’s powerful talk about the impact overconsumption is having on our oceans and how we are effectively changing “the nature of nature”.

Dr. Sylvia Earle speaking on stage at C2 Montreal
Dr. Sylvia Earle speaking on stage at C2 Montreal

Alexander Knoll, the 13 year old CEO and creator of the Ability App, which allows people with disabilities to search for specific disability friendly features, services and employment. He started his speech with Mark Twain’s famous quote: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Helping others was his calling and he channels that by creating something to help those in need.

Alexander Knoll, CEO of the Ability App
Alexander Knoll, CEO of the Ability App

Both Montreal’s mayor, Valérie Plante and the Honourable Navdeep Singh Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development of Canada were present to touch on some of the concerns of every day Canadians. This allowed for a dialogue concerning the ethics surrounding technology and the numerous ways we can use AI for good.

Montreal’s mayor, Valérie Plante and the Honourable Navdeep Singh Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development of Canada
Montreal’s mayor, Valérie Plante and the Honourable Navdeep Singh Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development of Canada (photo credit: Valérie Plante, Twitter)

The Takeaway
The biggest takeaway from the event boils down to a very simple truth: you should never stop learning. For most of us, post-university might seem like the finish line in terms of our academic careers, but the wave of change that AI is going to bring will require all of us to constantly update our skills.

Since the financial crisis of 2008, 61% of jobs have required some level of technical fluency. Worrying about the inevitable has never done any good, so it’s time to be proactive, read more
books, take more classes and develop your expertise if you want to be part of the impending smart economy of the future.

When you think of it, why would you ever want to stop learning anyway?