NOW Futures Profile: Ali Taiyeb

NOW is hosting a Digital Literacy Day event featuring some of the city's top thought leaders. Register now for your free ticket!

NOW is hosting a Digital Literacy Day event on May 31st at the Centre for Social Innovation. We’re showcasing the speakers who will be there to discuss how technology is impacting our lives and what’s to come in the future. See all of the profiles here. 

What do you do in your industry? 

I’m the partnerships lead at the DMZ at Ryerson University. My core responsibilities are to increase the quantity and quality of corporate engagements at the DMZ. We are fortunate to work with Fortune 500 companies such as Facebook, BMO and IBM who are committed to helping shape the future of Canadian innovation. 

Name one technology advancement that has impacted your life more than any other.

The one technology advancement that has impacted my life is the ability to access the Internet on my mobile device. Having access to the world’s information anywhere by a click of a button has been a game-changer.

Do you think the tech industry has any blind spots or weaknesses that need to be addressed? 

I believe a major blind spot that needs to be addressed is around data usage and privacy. We’ve naively trusted various platforms and uploaded massive amounts of data into the cloud. How will large tech players be using our data moving forward? How can we regain ownership of our own data? These tough questions need to be addressed.

What are some ways we can improve digital literacy amongst communities where advanced technology is not readily accessible?

The affordability of mobile devices and increased storage capabilities is making it much easier to deploy valuable content offline. A great case study is a DMZ startup called the Rumie Initiative. The non-profit brings free solar-powered learning content on tablets to underserved communities. Currently, Rumie is being used in over 20 countries including a number of Syrian refugee camps in the Middle East and Indigenous communities in Canada. 

What’s one way Toronto has excelled at adopting technology city-wide? 

At the moment, there is no one city-wide initiative I could point to that we’ve truly excelled in. Looking at other technologically advanced cities such as Tokyo, Tel Aviv and Seoul, Toronto has a long way to go. However, efforts to bring forward city-wide advancements are happening as an example with the launch of the Toronto Civic Innovation Office.

Name someone in your industry who inspires you – and tell us why.

Allen Lau, CEO of Wattpad. What he and his team have been able to achieve, creating a thriving community of creatives, is truly incredible. The culture and forward-thinking approach at Wattpad also inspires me. The company’s strong focus on using data and machine-learning to expand interactive storytelling is a bold move, which I’m looking forward to see unfold. Lastly, the fact that Allen decided to build and stay in Toronto makes Wattpad an example of an innovation that is bringing our city to the global stage. 

Reserve your free ticket to the NOW Futures event here!


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