Elevate Personalities: Cassia Attard, solar quantum dot researcher at TKS

NOW Digital Residency: Elevate


Canada’s future lies in the hands of its youth. As part of Elevate, a Toronto-wide tech and innovation festival, Elevate Next Gen will bring together up-and-coming global tech leaders on September 26, 2018 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

We’re profiling some of these young Canadians who are undertaking incredible projects in AI, quantum computing, blockchain development, and nanotechnology. 

What is your work about and how did you become interested in pursuing it? 

I am working on using nanotechnology to make solar energy more scalable. Using quantum dots, a type of nanoparticle, every window could be turned into a solar panel. This would allow cities to adopt enough solar to power the city many times over, using existing infrastructure. 

The future of innovation is right here. What’s one thing that seems futuristic to Canadians right now, but will be common place in the next five years? 

The way that we view the most terrible diseases is on the cusp of changing. There are so many medical technologies being developed right now in gene editing, nanotechnology, diagnostic simulation, etc. So many of these ‘futuristic’ methods are so close to becoming reality.   

If you could program machines to have one human-like quality, what would it be and why?

AI has already allowed machines to surpass humans in many areas, but we are yet to program them to feel empathy. Most people who fear an AI, fear its ability to out-think humanity combined with its lack of empathy. If empathy could be programmed, we would have nothing to fear. Of course, this would cause us to question the difference between person and machine and bring up many moral dilemmas. 

How do you think artificial intelligence could change how Canadians live?  

AI will impact every single field of work and most areas of life. It will improve the efficiency and remove the element of human error in the systems used currently. Some of Canada’s youth are likely planning for careers that won’t exist in the near future because of AI. 

Can you tell us about an up-and-coming concept in technology readers might not know about?  

Quantum simulation is a concept in tech that does not get enough attention. Using quantum computers to simulate drugs, human bodies, energy systems or any imaginable is a very powerful concept. Think about how much faster medicine could advance if different combinations of chemicals could be simulated to discover new medications. That is only one of the implications of quantum simulation. It’s a super exciting concept!

How would you like to put your emerging technology skills to use to help change the world?  

Although I am working in renewables currently, medicine has always interested me. An advancement in medical technology could save endless lives and prevent a lot of suffering. The idea that I could use my knowledge of these technologies to make something that could have such a huge impact is really exciting! 

What’s your favourite sci-fi movie?

Interstellar.

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