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Time of the essence for AI and environment, says Trinity College business and tech forum

Taking place on 23rd May, the forum emphasises the importance of business of now

The future is where money can be made and lost and by trying to predict what it will bring has long been the way. But what if that isn’t the best way?

The future is where money can be made and lost and by trying to predict what it will bring has long been the way. But what if that isn’t the best way?

 

All too often, business leaders focus on finding their competitive edge by looking at what’s coming in a year or two years time. The future is where money can be made and lost and by trying to predict what it will bring has long been the way. But what if that isn’t the best way?

Trinity College Dublin’s business and technology forum is looking to shed a light on what’s happening now, rather than what the distant future will bring. Between disruptive technologies and potential environmental catastrophes, the business of now has never been so important, the forum suggests.

“Globally, all conferences have been looking at what’s coming down the track and we’ve reached a point on some aspects, like artificial intelligence (AI), where we need to look at what we need to do today for people,” the dean of TCD’s business school, Andrew Burke, said.

“Equally, we think that with things like the global environmental disaster we’ve got to stop talking and start doing,” he added.

[TCD’s business and technology forum takes place on Thusday, May 23rd. For more information and to see the timetable, click here.]

With that goal in mind, the forum plans to respond to an immediacy required in both business and society to address challenges that will heavily impact the way in which both operate.

It argues that addressing climate change, for example, needs to be done now, rather than wait until business has managed to get its head around the implications. Additionally, it will advocate making decisions that don’t just respond to market forces but shape them.

The onus on big business is to ask themselves how they can lend their powerful voices to influence change

And in a way, this is what business should have been doing all along. But so wound up in predictions has it become, that taking a look at the issues that face everyone today has taken a back seat.

Burke points out the easiest way to solve the most pertinent issues is by changing minds. “Investors, for the most part, are usually pension funds and foundations. So, if we can change people’s mindsets saying ‘I don’t want to get a return on an investment if it’s going to destroy the future’, that’s the importance of the business of now.”

In so doing, business can better represent all stakeholders, young and old, as society fundamentally shifts with the advent of new technologies.

Distractions

Of course, distractions will always exist which will pull the attention of business leaders away from the more immediate tasks at hand. Take Brexit, for example. At the forum, Caroline Fairbairn, director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), will address the topic and note that even though the role of business in public life is increasingly uncertain, it still has a huge part to play in building a future of peace, progress and common prosperity.

Caroline Fairbairn, director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), will address Brexit at the forum
Caroline Fairbairn, director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), will address Brexit at the forum

And the challenges aren’t just geo-political ones. Between generations, there are often tensions. TCD’s Prof Louis Brennan will lead a panel discussion exploring how the millennial workforce are increasingly looking to work for businesses committed to helping to improve society. The onus on big business is to ask themselves how they can lend their powerful voices to influence change and what affect that will have on democracy.

Indeed, posing questions like that are key and will influence how future graduates will be taught, according to Burke.

“You can send graduates out with a moral compass but at the end of the day they’ll come under pressure. But if they can use their moment in the limelight to change perception you’ll never have companies doing things for the wrong reasons.”

The importance for the forum, as he sees it, is to get the message out that business is changing. And if that message gets out, it forces TCD, and the graduates it sends out into the world, to live up to their statements.


TCD’s business and technology forum takes place on Thusday, May 23rd. For more information and to see the timetable, click here.