As published in the National Post

Technology is intermingled with every facet of our lives, but is it making the world a better place? Only if we use it properly — and that starts with asking the right questions.

Long-time tech leaders like IBM take the responsibility of stewardship seriously to ensure that technologies new and old are improving the health of people and the planet. They call it Good Tech.

We have a collective responsibility towards addressing Canada’s skills gap and a tremendous opportunity to prepare Canadians for digital jobs.

Claude Guay, President and General Manager, IBM Canada Ltd.

The issues they’re tackling are wide-ranging — from global concerns like climate change, hunger, and education, to the eminently personal, such as how our private data is managed and the need for guiding ethical principles to govern the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

“Good Tech is at the centre of our values,” says Claude Guay, president and general manager of IBM Canada. “For more than a century, IBM has earned the trust of our clients by responsibly managing their most valuable data, and we’re earning the trust of society by ushering powerful technologies like AI into the world responsibly and with clear purpose.”

The revolution starts in the classroom and ends everywhere

In the midst of a pandemic that’s reshaping every aspect of how we work and think — including an ever-greater reliance on technologies — IBM is focusing on how tomorrow’s leaders are learning.

Through its Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools (P-TECH) education model, the company provides students an opportunity to fast-track their way to competitive and transformative STEM careers. One of the more recent schools to partner in this global initiative is the Six Nations Polytechnic STEAM Academy, in Brantford, ON. “Within six years and at no cost, students can graduate with high school and associate degrees in competitive STEM disciplines, along with a guaranteed job interview with an industry partner,” explains Guay.

“We have a collective responsibility towards addressing Canada’s skills gap and a tremendous opportunity to prepare Canadians for digital jobs. If we’re able to work together to achieve our goals, we can emerge from this crisis stronger than ever,” Guay adds.

Nurturing skills in Canada also gives us the tools to plant seeds of progress around the world. The fruits of that labour are seen clearly in the annual Call for Code challenge, of which IBM is a founding partner. This competition seeks creative tech solutions to the most pressing global challenges, with this year’s focus being on climate change and COVID-19. The response has been impressive, with more than 380,000 participants from 79 countries since Call for Code launched in 2018.

IBM runs a parallel Call for Code challenge internally, which was won in 2019 by a team from the Canada Lab in Ottawa. Its innovative app and soil sensor solution, called Liquid Prep, is meant to help low-literacy farmers in developing countries make data-driven decisions about watering their crops with easy-to-use technology.

From the farmer’s field to hybrid cloud and AI, the potential for technology to reshape our world in beneficial ways is boundless – so long as we take the reins and ask ourselves: is this Good Tech?