How do you succeed in the fourth industrial revolution? It’s a tricky question, both because of the scope of the challenge and the need for local businesses to tackle it as soon as possible.
It was also the question posed by the rector of Université du Québec à Montréal, Magda Fusaro, during her first speech before the Chamber on November 16. She answered it by demonstrating the key role universities play in this revolution, particularly UQAM, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2019.
With artificial intelligence, the Internet of things, digital technology and virtual reality, university research is pushing back the limits of possibilities available to businesses. These technologies are key allies in tackling the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution.
A vision of the future required
According to Magda Fusaro, more than two out of three jobs that primary students will hold in the future do not exist today. This is why it is important to have a vision to “explore, open up, conquer and oversee this new territory.” Our legacy to future generations is of major concern for the rector, who aspires to an educated, plural, innovative, equitable and sustainable society.
The shift to the digital era is the key to society’s evolution. A digital divide would cause a lag for Quebec and have serious repercussions. According to Dr. Fusaro, the success of this shift depends on a tripartite commitment between universities, businesses and elected officials.
Digital technology serving sustainable development
While the 4.0 revolution is creating significant challenges, specifically economic, ethical and social ones, Dr. Fusaro was particularly concerned about robotization. The rector pointed out that many jobs and sectors will be affected, including taxi drivers, aircraft pilots, employees in manufacturing and sectors as unexpected as finance, health and education.
Dr. Fusaro sees technology as neither good nor bad. It’s what we do with it that counts. From this perspective, universities have to ensure they are agents of change and not a roadblock to progress.
Universities have a key role to play by exploring new avenues for training and research and exploiting the possibilities of digital technology for economic growth, social progress and the environment.
A technological first at a CCMM forum
To illustrate what she was saying, during her speech Dr. Fusaro used technology to have the audience and an expert from UQAM participate. Through a link that led to a quiz, participants used their smartphones to answer a question that tested their knowledge of factors central to the digital revolution, for example, the Internet of things, artificial intelligence and robotics.
Once the responses were received, the UQAM expert spoke with Dr. Fusaro by video conference to respond to the results and explain the concepts. It was an original way to interact with the audience – a first at a Chamber business luncheon.
With UQAM’s 50th anniversary approaching, its rector, Magda Fusaro, wanted to showcase the university’s important contribution to the 4.0 revolution: HIV research, mathematics for computer science, nanomaterials, the discovery of Li-Fi (light fidelity), and more. The list of UQAM’s technological advances is long. For Magda Fusaro, it is clear that UQAM will play a key role in tackling the challenges of the 50 coming years.