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mesh conference announces first round of keynotes and speakers for April event

Canada’s transformation and innovation event shares speakers for its April 12-13 event in Calgary



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“Change is the only constant in life” might feel like a post pandemic-inspired bumper sticker, but Greek philosopher Heraclitus nailed it nearly 2,500 years ago with a doctrine about change being central to the universe.

What’s different now? The pace, scale, and the variety of ways in which change has… well… changed.

And that’s why we mesh.

Happening at the Platform Innovation Centre April 12-13, 2023 in Calgary, 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 & Technology, Marketing and Business. 

Today, mesh announced its first two keynotes for its spring event:

Exploring digital rights in the creator economy, and ownership in the era of generative AI

Kirstine Stewart
Kirstine Stewart

Internationally award-winning technology and media leader Kirstine Stewart joins mesh to explore the transformation of media at its intersection with technology. 

As the Chief Revenue Officer of Pex, a technology company backed by Tencent and Universal Music Group, 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.

Prior to joining Pex, Kirstine was a member of the executive committee at the World Economic Forum where she led the Future of Media, Entertainment, & Sport division, collaborating with C-level leaders from multinational enterprises including Facebook, Google, ByteDance, Publicis Groupe, P&G and more to address emerging trends in areas such as digital disruption, metaverse and Web3, revenue creation in the media ecosystem, consumer data privacy, and the future of work.

Kirstine started in the tech industry in 2013 when she was appointed the Founding Head of Twitter in Canada before she moved to New York to take on the role of Twitter’s VP Media for all of North America.

In 2016, Kirstine authored the bestseller, Our Turn, an internationally award-winning book on leadership. She is a sought-after board member and corporate advisor, and her leadership extends into non-profit advocacy as a member of the Founding Board for CILAR (Coalition of Innovation Leaders Against Racism) and as a member of the board for the Center for Addiction & Mental Health (CAMH) Foundation. Kirstine is a Board Member of the C100, a preeminent global community of Canadians in tech.

Scaling your business and success strategies for online marketplaces

Bobbie Racette
Bobbie Racette

Entrepreneur and business leader Bobbie Racette joins mesh to share perspectives on the future of talent and work.

As the Founder and CEO of Virtual Gurus, a Talent-as-a-Service solution platform that matches users with remote talent using matchmaking algorithms, Bobbie will share insight on building diverse and agile teams with remote workers and best-practice advice for using technology to find much-needed talent.

Bobbie, who is also the Founder and CEO of askBetty, will also share insight and learning on building digital marketplaces, and why constraining a marketplace is the best way to grow it.

Bobbie has been recognized as one of 50 Changemakers for 2021 by Report on Business magazine, and Startup Canada’s Indigenous Entrepreneur of the Year and Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, Prairies Region.

A Cree-Metis woman who prides herself on building an inclusivity-first company, Bobbie champions for indigenous people and the LGBTQ+ community and mentors First Nations youth interested in business and technology.

Virtual Gurus works with Fortune 500 executives, startup entrepreneurs, and small business owners.

Forbes called her company one of the top 19 Innovative Tech Startups to watch.

Featured speakers from Toronto and Calgary

Founded in 2005 with a focus on digital, the mesh conference is now a national event series and omnichannel experience focused on digital transformation and the innovation economy.

Thought leaders, entrepreneurs, corporate innovators and creatives from across North America will attend the mesh conference in Calgary this April to share insight on emerging trends and tackle some of today’s biggest challenges in society, media, marketing, and business.

In addition to the keynote announcements, mesh also shared details about featured speakers who will join this year’s event:

Mary Jane Dykeman
Mary Jane Dykeman

Mary Jane Dykeman, Managing Partner, INQ Law

In addition to data law, Mary Jane is a long-standing health lawyer and she is a founder of INQ Consulting, a global data consultancy.

Mary Jane’s data practice focuses on privacy, artificial intelligence (AI), cyber preparedness and response, and data governance. She regularly advises on use and disclosure of identifiable and de-identified data, and she applies a strategic, risk, and innovation lens to data and emerging technologies. 

Mary Jane helps clients identify the data they hold, understand how to use it within the law, and how to innovate responsibly. She has acted in general counsel roles to three Toronto teaching hospitals, currently as interim VP Legal/Risk to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (a group doing exciting things with data); and was instrumental in the development of Ontario’s health privacy legislation. 

Mary Jane’s consulting work extends to modernizing privacy legislation and digital societies in the private and public sectors, and she works with Boards, CEOs and CIOs on the emerging risks, trends and the imperative to harness.  Mary Jane regularly speaks on AI, cyber risk and how to better engage and build trust with clients and customers whose data is at play. Her most recent in person speaking engagements on the future of/with data, AI, cyber, and data governance were in Dubai, Boston, and Toronto.

Anne-Marie Enns
Anne-Marie Enns

Anne-Marie Enns, Executive Producer and Publishing Partner, Women of the Future

An award-winning event producer, Anne-Marie leads the production of Women of the Future, a global platform launched in 2022 that uses technology as a tool for positive impact in the real world. 

Led by women who believe in empowering their peers, Women of the Future highlights 100 global women and allies who are bringing Web3 to the mainstream.

Anne-Marie is an expert in the area of immersive technologies including augmented, virtual, and mixed reality.

In the events space, Anne-Marie has produced events for organizations such as the VR/AR Association, NCFA, TED, Honda Celebration of Light, CANFAR, White Ribbon Campaign, Archiact, and more.

Anne-Marie also serves as an Ambassador for Mission Impact, a female-led program to bring more women into the Web3 workspace. 

Sabrina Sullivan
Sabrina Sullivan

Sabrina Sullivan, Futuring Strategist, Ford Motor Company / Director, Transformation + Ecosystem, SAIT

Sabrina has made it her life’s work to create positive change through investing time in both bold ideas and the people that make them a reality. This currently manifests itself with a focus on developing future-ready talent as the Director and Principal Catalyst at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.

A recognized Corporate Futurist, leader of one of Deloitte’s flagship innovation programs, and former Strategy Consultant within Canada and the United States, she has become a sought-after strategist, advisor, writer, manager and facilitator. 

In addition to her roles in complex organizations, she has committed time to building ventures including a startup sustainable finance firm and launching a SaaS offering focused on measuring and improving innovation practice in companies. This diverse experience leaves Sabrina poised to work with individuals, companies and ecosystems to generate innovative products, programs and strategies that help grow and shape the future of their organizations and our communities. 

This is only further complemented by her local and global network and experience with organizations such as Platform, TED, Singularity University, US State Department, and many global institutes, incubators and accelerators.

Lauren Dwyer
Lauren Dwyer

Lauren Dwyer, Academic Chair, Data Analytics & Artificial Intelligence, SAIT

Lauren Dwyer is a researcher and academic with a PhD in Communication and Culture from Toronto Metropolitan and York Universities. Her dissertation, “Isolated Circuits: Human experience and robot design for the future of loneliness,” delved into the relationship between human emotions and technological design, with a particular focus on the growing issue of loneliness in modern society.

Lauren currently holds the position of academic chair for Data and AI at the School for Advanced Digital Technologies (SADT) in Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT). In this role, she oversees the development of cutting-edge programs that harness the power of data and AI to drive innovation across various fields. By leveraging her expertise in communication studies and technology, she is able to shape the future of digital innovation.

Her research interests lie at the intersection of emerging technology and human communication, with a particular emphasis on the human-in-the-loop of social robots and artificial intelligence.

Tamara Woolgar
Tamara Woolgar

Tamara Woolgar, Executive Director, the A100

With a career in public relations spanning more than 20 years in corporate, agency, and freelance environments, today Tamara is Executive Director of the A100.

The A100 is Alberta’s community of seasoned technology founders & executives who believe world-class tech companies are being built in Alberta, and that our collective greater involvement can meaningfully increase successful outcomes. A100 members expand networks, connect people and share experiences to help the next generation of tech entrepreneurs thrive in Alberta.

Tamara is biracial and an activist for DEIB initiatives, including contributing to The51’s Community Council. Her memoir, “A Flawless Mistake: Tales From a Beautiful Life of Colossal F*ckups”, was published in July 2020 by Friesen Press.

More speakers and sessions will be announced shortly on the mesh conference agenda and tickets are on-sale now at the mesh conference ticket page. Early-bird tickets are on sale now for $679 until March 17 and a small batch of student tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

DX Journal is an official media partner of the mesh conference.

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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



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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.

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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



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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

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COP28 points to AI for climate change solutions in developing countries

Examining AI initiatives brought up at the COP28 climate conference



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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

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