“When will the future arrive? The 4th Industrial Revolution is here.”

“When will the future arrive?  The 4th Industrial Revolution is here.”
 This was the theme of the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute’s (CARIRI’s) mega Conference entitled Innovating with Emerging Technology which was held on Wednesday 18th April at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad.
Chief Executive Officer of CARIRI, Mr Liaquat Ali Shah, gave the Opening remarks and stated ‘As part of our strategic approach, we are seeking to contribute to the  building of capacity for Innovation on a national scale and position the Institute as a Focal Point for Innovation and Technology, not just nationally, but in the region as a whole. In this context, we have recognized, based on past experience, the imperative of instituting the appropriate infrastructure to develop the areas of Innovation and ICT, as part of our capacity building efforts.  Our approach, I should hasten to add, takes cognizance of the importance of establishing a platform for sustainable economic transformation over the medium to long term, as an integral part of the diversification thrust.’
 
The sold out event saw the Minister of Trade and Industry, the Honorable Paula Gopee Scoon deliver the Feature Address in which she reiterated the government’s commitment to diversify the economy, and this includes strengthening the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector.

As part of the thrust to include technology in every aspect of our lives, and to showcase how small the world has become with this technology, CARIRI was able to set up a live stream to the Embassy in Washington D.C., U.S.A. for members of the Diaspora.  Additionally, His Excellency Brigadier General (Ret'd) Anthony Phillips-Spencer, Ambassador of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago brought greetings to the audience here in Trinidad.

CARIRI was able to secure internationally recognized speakers in various areas of the 4th Industrial Revolution and the day started off with a bang as Professor Anthony Clayton of UWI Mona, Jamaica was able to speak in depth about Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.  Right after this, Mr Nelson Mac Quhae, Chief Technical Officer at Microsoft LATAM spoke about the Internet of Things and how we can expect to communicate in the future.  The Intellectual Property Office of Trinidad and Tobago then presented on the role of intellectual property in the future.

Ms Thelma Britton, the Senior Operations and Logistics Manager for Panama and the Caribbean of UBER gave wonderful insight into the operations of her company in T&T and the Caribbean and then was able to speak to the future of urban mobility.  Daniel Poliquin of IBM Corporation in Canada discussed at length smarter cities and how we can go about shaping the region.  Marla Dukharan, Caribbean Economist brought home the point of e-Government and Digital settlement networks and the day wrapped up with Dave Landry, co-founder of Datawheel which is a spin off of MIT, Boston. 

After such a full day, participants were well informed and had the chance to interact with the speakers via an application in which they could ask their questions via their mobile devices, once again incorporating technology into the Conference. 

Our region stands on the threshold of a technological revolution that will essentially alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, this transformation, which has been taking place for a while, will be unlike anything that we have experienced before. Although we do not yet know just how it will unfold, one thing is clear: our response to it must be integrated and all-inclusive, involving all stakeholders from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society.
Cognizant of the anticipated transformative impact of this technological development, and mindful of the need for an integrated and all-inclusive response, involving all stakeholders from the public and private sectors, as well as academia and civil society, CARIRI wanted to bring the spotlight to bear on this potentially disruptive development.   At the end of the Conference, it is clear that CARIRI was able to achieve its goal.