Connect with us


mesh conference adds human and artificial intelligence presenters to speaker lineup for Calgary event

Canada’s digital transformation and innovation even to take place April 12-13 at Platform Innovation Centre in Calgary



Share this:

With one week to go before innovators and digital transformation leaders descend on Calgary’s Platform Innovation Centre, the mesh conference announced its closing keynote will be delivered by two humans and two artificial intelligence (AI) beings.

Dr. William Barry and Dr. Maria Gomez Rachelle will deliver an interactive session where the pair will co-present alongside AI-powered digital avatars — Maria Bot Digital© and Niva© — who will share insight and take unscripted, live questions from the audience.

The keynote presentation titled “Intelligence Augmentation: The Ethical Implications of Human-AI Teaming” will explore the good, the bad, and the ugly of using artificial intelligence to augment human capabilities.

“Artificial intelligence has soaked up a lot of headline ink over the last five months since ChatGPT’s launch, and everyone is now looking to understand the impact this technology will have on how we work,“ says Chris Hogg, partner and co-producer of mesh, and president of content marketing firm, DJG. “This is a needed conversation, as people will move from being wowed by AI to talking about how it’s trained, its ethics, and the implications of human-machine teams. We’re excited to have that conversation happening at mesh.”

Taking place April 12-13, 2023, the mesh conference will host thought leaders and innovators from across North America who are searching to better understand the impact that new trends and technologies will have on how we live, work, and play.

Keynote speakers, attendees, panels, and workshops at this year’s mesh conference will speak to four featured themes: Society, Media, Marketing and Business.

The mesh conference’s first-ever human-AI keynote 

Dr. Barry is a technology and Just War ethicist with 25 years of experience as an innovative and creative experiential educator. He is a faculty member and subject matter expert (GovCon) in emerging technologies and human-smart machine teams at the U.S. Army War College’s Center for Strategic Leadership. He is an international thought leader and a driving force in shaping the future of technology and ethics.

He will be joined by human-artificial intelligence (AI) researcher, Dr. Gomez Rachelle, who is also the CEO of Silicon Valley-based consulting firm, Living Leadership Today. Prior to her research work in artificial intelligence, Dr. Gomez Rachelle was a critical care nurse, clinical research authority in biopharma, and a respected educator.

The pair work with chatbot-AI expert and 3D graphic artist, Guile Lindroth, to design, program, and bring Maria Bot Digital© and Niva© to life as conversational AI-powered strategic avatars.

A strategic avatar is a term coined by Dr. BarryDr. Gomez Rachelle, and Lindroth to describe a decision-support digital assistant that uses conversational AI and intelligence augmentation (IA) technologies to enhance a human being’s decision-making process by integrating data analytics, AI capabilities, and human insights. The team created strategic avatars in order to tackle complex problems, optimize outcomes, and enhance performance when a human faces competition or a challenging situation in their lifeworld.

Maria Bot Digital is an AI-powered strategic avatar who teaches alongside Dr. Barry. She uses multiple large language models, all enhanced by Digital Minds, who created her functional model. Creative Society Media and Living Leadership Today also contributed to her creation through human-robot interaction research, character development, content moderation, and user feedback analysis.

Niva is a relatively new AI-powered strategic avatar built on SafeChatGPT©, an ethics- and doctrine-based generative AI system built by Dr. Barry and Lindroth. Niva uses reinforcement learning from human feedback to learn from conversations. Niva is programmed to filter out toxic content, detect plagiarism, and root out disinformation and propaganda.

Dr. Barry and Dr. Gomez Rachelle will join the in-person audience virtually from Carlisle, Pennsylvania and San Francisco, California.

the full mesh speaker lineup

In addition to the closing keynote speakers, mesh has confirmed more than 40 speakers will take part in the Calgary event, April 12-13, 2023. The full run of show, with speakers and sessions includes:

The State of Innovation. What’s now? What’s next? And how can we get there? 

Canada’s innovation ecosystem is bustling with success stories, digital transformation learning, and organizations who are still getting their feet wet. In this opening session at mesh we will explore the state of innovation and look at where we are, where we need to be, and what is needed to get us there. Featuring:  Colleen PoundAlison Sunstrum (CNSRV-X Inc.), Leta LaRush (BASF), and Chris Hogg (Digital Journal Group).

Keynote fireside conversation with Kirstine Stewart

Internationally award-winning technology and media leader Kirstine Stewart joins mesh to explore the transformation of media at its intersection with technology. Kirstine will share insight on how media continues to evolve, digital rights technology and its use in the creator economy, and ownership of content and creative work in the era of generative AI. Featuring: Kirstine Stewart (former Twitter VP/GM and CRO of Pex) and Mathew Ingram (Columbia Journalism Review).

The mesh innovation showcase 

The mesh innovation showcase recognizes innovation and digital transformation leaders from underrepresented communities across Canada. Join us as we meet some of Canada’s innovators. Featuring: Tamara Woolgar (The A100) and featured showcase leaders.

Catalysts for Change 

This panel discussion will look at digital transformation for the public good, and speakers will delve into how innovation will impact the non-profit and public sectors. Featuring: Charles Buchanan (Technology Helps), Alison Pidskalny (Pixelated Ventures), Derek Armstrong (PrairiesCan) and Chris Wolfenberg (Dentons).

Entering the Next Dimension: How VR/AR and the Metaverse Will Change Everything

This panel will explore the power and promise of virtual and augmented reality and the metaverse with those who are helping to create it. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a bit of a skeptic, this panel will demonstrate why AR, VR and the Metaverse will change everything. Featuring: Paige Dansinger (Metaverse Producer), Amy Peck (EndeavorVR), Juliana Loh (VR world builder), and Anne-Marie Enns (Women of the Future).

Transformations for Future Generations: Health & Education 

Healthcare and education are two of Canada’s most important sectors, and the opportunity to innovate in both is now. This panel will explore innovation in healthcare and education, and where advancement is happening, and what’s still needed for the benefit of future generations. Featuring: Lauren Dwyer (SAIT), Mary Jane Dykeman (INQ Data Law) and Tyler Chisholm (clearmotive marketing group).

Keynote Fireside Conversation with Mark Fairbanks, Islands of Brilliance

Mark Fairbanks joins mesh to explore opportunities in technology design to create inclusion. His keynote will focus on learning experiences and neurodivergent creativity.

Keynote Fireside Conversation with Bobbie Racette, Virtual Gurus

Entrepreneur and business leader Bobbie Racette joins mesh to share perspectives on the future of talent and work, and insight on building diverse and agile teams with remote workers. Bobbie will dive into best-practice advice for using technology to find much-needed talent, and why constraining a digital marketplace is the best way to grow it. Featuring: Bobbie Racette (Virtual Gurus) and Alison Pidskalny (Pixelated Ventures)

Keynote Fireside Conversation with Dr. Andreas Fraunberger, Junge Römer

This fireside will explore the world of augmented and virtual reality and its impact on sales and marketing. Dr. Fraunberger will join us via livestream from Vienna, Austria. Featuring: Andreas Fraunberger (Junge Römer) and Tyler Chisholm (clearmotive marketing group).

Marketing and sales in the age of distraction

With social media channels constantly changing, inboxes flooded with marketing messages, and audiences being pulled left and right through busy lives, it’s harder than ever for marketing and sales people to get attention. This session will explore the ways in which leaders are breaking through a noisy marketing and sales landscape to help their business and clients stand out, and what leaders need to do to scale successfully. Featuring: Amrita Gurney (Float), Tracey Bodnarchuk (TAB Consulting Group) and Stuart Macdonald (Narrative Fund).

Start-up Circles. Navigating the Entrepreneurial Journey: Lessons from Successful Startups

This session invites entrepreneurs (or those considering the journey) to share lessons learned and obstacles overcome in their journey. Panelists (and attendees) will share what’s worked, how challenges should be tackled and what’s needed to create a thriving startup. Featuring: Shelley Kuipers (The51), Mark Graham (commonsku) and Temi Okesanya (Road Aider).

From Code to Canvas: Hands-On with Generative AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere, and changing every industry. And even though generative AI has become shockingly good at figuring out what you want it to do for you, there’s always room for improvement. In this session we will look at the role of a prompt engineer and how everyone can get more out of AI by knowing what to ask it to do. Featuring: Iman Bashir (Craftly.AI).

Data and Innovative Thinking: Tapping into the Innovator’s Mindset

From automotive, to law, to energy, Canada’s largest sectors are undergoing radical change, and those who chose the path of innovation are the ones who will thrive. While innovation can come from many places, the innovator’s mindset follows the “belief that abilities, intelligence, and talents are developed leading to the creation of new and better ideas,” as author George Couros would say. In this panel we will tap into that mindset. Featuring: Sabrina Sullivan (FORD/SAIT), Mary Jane Dykeman (INQ Data Law), Christine Gillies (Blackline Safety), and Deborah Yedlin (Calgary Chamber of Commerce).

Navigating a changing digital landscape: How to live with Google Analytics 4, and where else your brand should invest
Marketers and brands have used the Internet for decades now as a primary digital platform to reach audiences. But things are changing, and it’s not all for good. This session will look at how and why Google Analytics is changing, and how that will complicate the world of measurement for marketers. The second part of this session will look at opportunities for brands to connect with audiences off of their website. Featuring: Jake Surrey (Fountain Partnership) and Scott King (Digital strategist).

Dealbook: An investor, regulator and ecosystem view of what’s needed to fund and support innovation

Funding innovation is a critical step in advancing a digital transformation, but rather than just looking at problems and challenges to solve, we also need to identify where momentum is happening and what needs to be done to support it. Mid-market jurisdictions may have capital gaps, or discoverability challenges, but those are common in many regions and more focus needs to be placed on how we overcome challenges that are table stakes. This panel will look at making a difference, what bets investors are placing, where they see opportunity, and what’s needed to fuel growth. Featuring: Wilson Acton (Tall Grass Ventures), Ha Nguyen (McRock Capital), Tonya Fleming (Alberta Securities Commission) and Terry Rock (Platform Calgary).

mesh supporters

The mesh conference wouldn’t be possible without the support of partners and sponsors, including:

To get tickets to the April 12-13 event in Calgary, visit the mesh conference ticket page.

Share this:


The Northern Lights Technology & Innovation Forum navigates AI, economic concerns and upskilling in Alberta

Panelists dive into how innovation and collaboration may help navigate the changing industry landscapes



Share this:

While rapid advancements in AI are reshaping industries worldwide, they’ve sparked discussions about innovation and community resilience through ongoing economic challenges. At this year’s Northern Lights Technology and Innovation Forum, panelists explored how technology could drive positive adaptation.

​​Moderated by the Calgary Economic Development’s Geraldine Anderson, the panel featured:

  • Mark Little, co-founder and CEO Jotson Inc, and board member of General Fusion
  • Anna Baird, culture and innovation evangelist at Google
  • Dan Semmens, SVP and head of data and IT at ATB Financial
  • Arthur Kent, Canadian journalist and author
  • Joy Romero, executive advisor innovation at Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL)

Approximately 250 attendees gathered for the forum at the Calgary Petroleum Club on Feb. 8. Filled with industry leaders and burgeoning entrepreneurs, the forum focused on collaboration and knowledge sharing in the tech sector.

Over the past five years, Calgary has seen a 22 per cent increase in tech talent and total tech jobs, emerging as one of North America’s top markets for young tech professionals.

“The talent pool here is amazing,” said ​​John Givens, vice president of sales at C3 AI and one of the event’s organizers. “So how do we leverage our talent here? How do we share that knowledge?”

In response, this year’s forum included the inaugural “Mentors and Makers” initiative, where a dozen industry experts pinned green buttons to their lapels, signaling to anyone in the crowd that they’re open to a conversation.

Shawn Mahoney, another event organizer and co-founder of Spare Parts & Gasoline, said in his opening remarks that the initiative speaks to “creating the new innovators that we need to solve tomorrow’s problems.”

And with that, the panel took the stage to dig into the big questions: What are the challenges and opportunities for Alberta as a growing tech market? How will AI continue to change industries across the board? And if it does, will that be a bad thing?

The Alberta advantage

The panel conversation was kicked off by the first question asked by moderator Geraldine Anderson: “What is the Alberta mindset, or the ‘Alberta advantage?’” 

Mark Little. Photo by DX Journal / Digital Journal

Mark Little, co-founder and CEO Jotson Inc, said Alberta has a lot going for it — including having the highest GDP in Canada, a younger population, and high education levels — but those aren’t the advantages that stand out to him.

“There’s a resilience and an entrepreneurial spirit here,” he said. “As a result of that, we’re seeing innovation … I think 10 to 15 years from now we’re going to lead this country in innovation and it’ll be every sector you could imagine.”

Hailing from Vancouver and the only panelist not based in Calgary, Google’s Anna Baird said she considers herself an honorary Albertan based on the “sheer grittiness and roll up your sleeves and work together” attitude she’s witnessed. 

“The grittiness takes us into innovation,” said Baird. “We’re willing to try new things, we’re willing to fail — hopefully fast and cheaply, as is Google’s ethos. But we’re also willing to borrow with pride and give kudos to the people we’re borrowing the pride from so we can have building blocks.” 

The panelists’ discussion kept coming back to the importance of adaptability, innovation, and collaboration. While the province faces significant hurdles, including global market fluctuations and environmental concerns, they spoke with optimism about the potential to emerge stronger by investing in the future.

Dan Semmens, SVP and head of data and IT at ATB Financial, calls it an “opportunity” for both the province and country to focus on investing in the next generation.

“I think the opportunity there is continuing to invest in our most precious resource, which is our young people,” he said. 

When it comes to AI, “it’s on all of us” to level up our own skills

Joy Romero. Photo by DX Journal / Digital Journal

AI is already impacting most industries globally, and it shows no signs of slowing down. But it’s not new either.

Joy Romero, executive advisor of innovation at Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL), said she was using AI neural networks 20 years ago to take ecological data and process it through oil sands facilities. 

“Why?” she asked. “Because that would allow us to improve our processing and our productivity … So for me, digital is our world. That’s productivity.”

The day of the panel, Google announced that Gemini Ultra 1.0, the largest version of their large language model, is being released to the public. 

Baird was asked about the implications of the new AI model, and while she acknowledged there will be challenges, she maintained that “the train has left the station.”

“It’s on all of us here in the room to level up our own skills,” she says. “With an announcement like Gemini, like you have to get in there, you have to play, you have to try.”

Anna Baird. Photo by DX Journal / Digital Journal

Transitioning to the realm of media and journalism, Canadian journalist Arthur Kent highlighted the increasing role of AI in newsrooms. From assisting journalists in gathering and analyzing data to content creation, journalists are experimenting with AI for efficiency and detecting false information.

“We can become even better if we harness artificial intelligence to do that,” said Kent. “So we constantly have to be developing and pushing ourselves forward, to keep pace with this.”

However, he emphasized the critical role of journalists in maintaining integrity and discerning between fact and fiction in an era of AI-generated content. 

“Journalism is always going to be a human process, because journalism is based on their location, and verification, verifying leads, tips, and figuring out rumour from fact,” said Kent. “So far, none of the machines that I’ve seen associated with artificial intelligence, have those human characteristics. However, there is also that human aspect called temptation.”

Arthur Kent. Photo by DX Journal / Digital Journal

In the financial services industry, Semmens said the impact of generative AI “poses an existential risk” to the relationship banks have with their clients. 

Despite this, he says incorporating AI technology into banking is “an incredible opportunity” to personalize experiences for customers more effectively and efficiently, and he expects to see a lot of changes in open banking in the next three to five years. 

“With all the disinformation that is out there, a trusted source is going to be a high commodity,” he said. “And so I think in banking, being a heavily regulated industry, there is an opportunity for us to really show up from that standpoint.”

Dan Semmens. Photo by DX Journal / Digital Journal

An innovation forum’s charitable roots

The Northern Lights Technology and Innovation Forum’s story begins over a decade ago. The organizers, including Givens, first banded together for the Gordie Howe C.A.R.E.S. Hockey Pro-Am Tournament in support of Alzheimer’s research and education. 

As the cause drew more attention they opted to expand the tournament into the forum as a way to expand their reach. All of the event proceeds go to Gordie Howe C.A.R.E.S. Centre for the Alzheimer’s Research and Education Society — and this year they broke their record, raising a minimum of $40,000 thanks in part to a funding match made by Google. 

“It’s amazing,” Givens said at the end of the night. “I always knew the potential of our community. And I explained to people that the community is the draw … It’s about education. It’s about doing the right thing. It’s about just finding ways for other people to get involved in doing the same thing. There’s enough energy there. Now we just have to harness it.”

DX Journal is an official media partner of the Northern Lights Technology and Innovation Forum.

Share this:
Continue Reading


The Northern Lights Technology & Innovation Forum comes to Calgary next month

Panellists from Google, ATB, Jotson and Canadian media will join the the second annual Northern Lights Technology & Innovation Forum in Calgary on Feb. 8



Share this:

In a world increasingly dominated by global competition and technological advancement, the Northern Lights Technology and Innovation Forum focuses on the power of knowledge-sharing and collaboration in the tech community. 

Coming to Calgary Feb. 8, the forum places a spotlight on critical issues impacting the community. Last year’s focus was on enabling net-zero carbon emissions and this year the focus shifts to economic challenges and what solutions can be found through innovation.

As the past year has seen heavy inflation, layoffs, volatile energy prices and geopolitical instability, this year’s panel discussion is designed to  provide a “360-degree view” of how these challenges impact Alberta’s economy and community.  

Moderated by the Calgary Economic Development’s Geraldine Anderson, the panel includes:

  • Mark Little, co-founder and CEO Jotson Inc, and board member of General Fusion
  • Anna Baird, culture and innovation evangelist at Google
  • Dan Semmens, SVP and head of data and IT at ATB Financial
  • Arthur Kent, Canadian journalist and author
  • Joy Romero, executive advisor innovation at Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNRL)

Panellists will explore how governments, large companies, and startups can work together to navigate changes to come, and which technologies have the potential to positively disrupt the status quo. 

“Mark brings a massive amount of background, and he’s led thousands of folks in our community, and to see what he’s doing now in the global economy is going to be really exciting,” says John Givens, vice president of sales at C3 AI and one of the event’s organizers. “And to have somebody who comes from a leadership position at Google in Canada — we’re crazy excited about that.”

Givens adds that he expects artificial intelligence to be a focus, with panellists like Semmens likely to focus on what’s happening in financial markets, and how technology will continue to impact that sector.

And with a packed career including working as a foreign correspondent at NBC, Kent has been “involved in more things than I can keep track of,” says Givens. Kent is expected to discuss cybercrime and the political and military impacts of technology.

Transforming from a hockey tournament to an innovation forum

Givens and his fellow organizers launched the first forum last year as a way to expand their decade-long history with the Gordie Howe C.A.R.E.S. Hockey Pro-Am Tournament in support of Alzheimer’s research and education.

Taking it back to the hockey tournament where it all began, 100% of the proceeds of this event go to Gordie Howe C.A.R.E.S. Centre for the Alzheimer’s Research and Education Society. 

More than $300,000 has been raised by the team since its inception, and they commit an annual $25,000 to Alzheimer’s Society from the event. However, Givens emphasizes the importance of education and awareness in their campaign.

“It’s about education, not just the money,” he says. “It’s about creating awareness.”

John Givens and the C3 AI team for the Gordie Howe C.A.R.E.S. Hockey Pro-Am Tournament. Photo courtesy of John Givens

Outside of the charitable support, the event is meant to support the growing business community and tech sector in the province. Technological advancements are impacting all sectors, and Givens says it’s important to “mindshare” across disciplines and open avenues for new innovations to emerge.

“It’s called the Northern Lights for a reason — it represents Alberta,” says Givens in an interview with DX Journal. Givens notes that the convergence of technology, innovation, resilience, and charitable giving is central to the theme and purpose of this year’s event.

“What I’m really proud of when I think about the Calgary ecosystem is we have an enormous amount of talent in this community,” says Givens. “We’re competing on a global market now, so our customers are hiring globally, and they’re competing on wages globally. We need to bring our talent together and lift them all up and share the best of the best and let everybody know what the best looks like.”

More than 250 people are expected to gather at the Petroleum Club for the forum’s lively discussion and networking opportunities. The event is sponsored by Spare Parts & Gasoline (Presenting Sponsor), and the mesh conference (Platinum Sponsor), with DX Journal being this year’s media partner.

DX Journal is an official media partner of the Northern Lights Technology and Innovation Forum. To learn more and get tickets to the event, happening February 8, visit the event page

Share this:
Continue Reading


COP28 points to AI for climate change solutions in developing countries

Examining AI initiatives brought up at the COP28 climate conference



Share this:

Need company data insights? AI can help. 

Better efficiency in healthcare? AI is there, too. 

It’s no surprise really, as AI paves its way into almost every industry. But the recent COP28 climate conference invited entire governments to consider AI as a solution to climate challenges in developing countries. 

Currently, governments already use AI to prepare for hurricanes, reduce water usage, and predict general climate patterns. It’s also been estimated that AI could help mitigate as as much as one-tenth of all greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

During COP28, which ran from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12, Omar Sultan Al Olama, the United Arab Emirates Minister of State for AI, digital economy, and remote work applications, urged the entire world to integrate AI into climate policies.

“Harnessing artificial intelligence as a strategic asset to mitigate climate change involves integrating it into national policies and plans,” he said. “These measures and policies should not be viewed in isolation, but rather as a unified global initiative, acknowledging that climate change transcends geographical boundaries and requires concerted global efforts.”

Some examples of AI-inspired climate change initiatives include: 

  • Designs for low-emission technologies (advanced batteries)
  • Reduce emissions in food production and manufacturing
  • Balance electricity during extreme climate events like tropical storms
  • Identify renewable energy projects
  • Identify tropical disease with machine learning
  • Design hurricane-resistant buildings

Here are some highlights from other countries pledging to introduce AI into their climate policies: 


“We are partnering with international tech companies to test their ideas in Barbados whilst contributing to the island’s development. Some ideas include using machine learning and AI to check for the presence of tropical diseases, design hurricane resistant buildings and plan infrastructure investment. Collaboration, training and technology transfer are key to ensuring that AI contributes effectively to climate mitigation and adaptation for small island developing states.”


“It is important to adapt the technology to take account of the digital divide, especially among those most vulnerable to climate change. Integration of chatbot voice with local languages in these emerging technology tools is one solution that would ensure the existing digital divide is taken into account.”

  • Moussa Bocar Thiam, Minister of Communications, Telecommunications and the Digital Economy, Senegal


“We must manage the risks and seize the promise of artificial intelligence. The United States is committed to doing so, as President Biden’s recent Executive Order on AI demonstrates. By working together, we can responsibly harness the power of this emerging technology to develop AI tools that help mitigate climate change risks, make our communities more sustainable and resilient, and build an equitable clean energy future for all.”

  • Ali Zaidi, Assistant to the President and National Climate Advisor, United States of America

Learn more about COP28 here

Share this:
Continue Reading