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Event Recap: Chicago Booth’s Innovating to Create the Future

On Friday, April 20th, Meridian Capital partnered with Chicago Booth to sponsor a conference dedicated to exploring the intersection of economic, social and political factors shaping our world today. Bill Hilf, CEO of Vulcan, kicked off the conference with a fireside chat to discuss how technology can make a positive social impact, followed by panels covering innovation in the workforce, the future of food, and biotechnology.

Vulcan is the engine behind Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s philanthropic work, and CEO Bill Hilf truly shares his vision of being a catalyst for change in the world. Hilf spoke about his experience working with Paul Allen and putting into effect Allen’s goal of using cutting-edge technology to solve some of the world’s most difficult problems.

One problem that Hilf discussed is the depletion of the global fish population due to illegal fishing practices. Vulcan set out to use satellite-based imagery and machine learning to immediately detect and analyze suspicious activity along remote coastlines to help local authorities increase the scope and reduce the cost of enforcement. Through this example, Hilf showed how Vulcan’s combination of technical expertise and focus on social responsibility is changing the way we view philanthropy.

Another theme that emerged throughout the day was the growing use of automation and artificial intelligence, and its potential impact on society. Moderated by Meridian Capital’s Managing Director Patrick Ringland, the Future of Work panel, featuring local business leaders Kate Cochran, CEO of Upaya Social Ventures, Rebecca Lovell, Director of Economic Development at City of Seattle, and Kory Avaiusini, Founder and CEO of WideNet Consulting Group, sought to address the issue. For all that new technology is praised for its ability to solve complex problems, it is also feared for its capacity to replace jobs and make workers dispensable. However, the panelists each had an optimistic outlook on thefuture of the workforce, concluding that impact of new technologies would ultimately be able to create jobs and boost the economy, with the social benefits outweighing the costs.

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