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An Interview with Dr. Sarah Lubik on Technology Innovation, Kurzweil and Diamandis and Hariri, the Future of Technology, and Canadian Industry (Part Five)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/08/08


Dr. Sarah Lubik is the Director of Entrepreneurship, SFU Co-Champion, Technology Entrepreneurships Lecturer, Entrepreneurship & Innovation Concentration Coordinator, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She discusses: the next big trends in technology innovation and the impact on North American lives into the future; personalized medicine, Moore’s Law, The Law of Accelerating Returns, Ray Kurzweil, Hariri, and X Prize founder Peter Diamandis, and the future of technologies; and an impressive entrepreneur and entrepreneurship from Canada.

Keywords: Canada, entrepreneurship, Yuval Noah Hariri, innovation, Peter Diamandis, Ray Kurzweil, Sarah Lubik, science, SFU, technology.

An Interview with Dr. Sarah Lubik on Technology Innovation, Kurzweil and Diamandis and Hariri, the Future of Technology, and Canadian Industry: Director of Entrepreneurship, SFU Co-Champion, Technology Entrepreneurships Lecturer, Entrepreneurship & InnovationConcentration Coordinator, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Part Five)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What do you think is the next big trend in technology innovation? What will impact North American lives the most as a technology and as an industry in the next ten years?

Dr. Sarah Lubik: To be totally honest with you, our ability to predict what’s going to happen in the next ten years has gotten worse and worse because humans tend to think only in a linear way, but technology is moving faster and faster.

We need to be mindful that technology is not a single thing anymore. That technology underpins, whether we like it or not, everything that we do. So, what that means is that, when we look at some of the fastest-growing businesses in Canada.

they don’t say they’re in the tech sector, but they’re heavily underpinned by tech. So, something that’s an HR company, but online, may be underpinned by a business model that means I can access a great deal more data than anyone else because of the technology they use, for example, employing artificial intelligence or machine learning.

Things that claim to be health companies are often technology companies now. One of the trends we’re going to see is that we’re going to need tech in education systems and in businesses that have traditionally just been about having highly trained people. For example, if easier tasks can be automated, the people in those jobs are going to need new skills and hopefully, have the mindset to learn those skills.

In the next ten years, I would hope to see changes to the health system, and to health innovation and to the energy sector.

One of the interesting possible advantages I’ve heard health entrepreneurs talk about for Canada is that we have an opportunity as a country with a single healthcare system.  If we can organize it properly, that would make us a fantastic place to innovate in areas like personalized medicine, which is where a great deal of interest is. That could mean nationwide improvements to health through the use and integration of health better data.

Where these things are coming together will be places with the need for other technologies, and so, we are back to comment about interdisciplinarity. This is going to a place where material science meets big data meets genomics meets personalized medicine, meets social innovation and more.

So, this is why those skills and that mindset can be so important because you can only imagine the things are coming out now. I was reading in the New Scientist there is always some new use for technology that could have serious implications for the world and the economy. For example, tracking your health so precisely your watch knows when you’re going to get sick before you do.

So, it can alert you that you’re starting a fever before you feel anything. So, those are the places where all of those technologies come together and that’s the part that much excites me. So, I’m not sure that I can say what you would see in ten years. I keep being surprised, thinking, “What will come out now?”

2. Jacobsen: Much of the subject matter you’re touching on now, such as personalized medicine, is a big trend, also one minor phenomenon, but growing among people that were previously on the fringe.

So, some of the names that come to mind would be people that talk typically about information technology along Moore’s Law, The Law of Accelerating Returns, for instance, of Ray Kurzweil, as well as the X Prize founder Peter Diamandis.

Do these people have an influence on your view of where the future of these technologies will go?

Lubik: Ray Kurzweil does for sure. He speaks often about how human beings usually think in a linear fashion, which is fine for simple things but not for envisioning the future.

But if you look at technology and innovation, it happens exponentially. So, when it comes to my teaching, I’m increasingly asking people to think not what’s happening now. But can you try to forecast where things are going to be when you’d actually be in the market? How about past that?

One of our alumni who now works for a big European company heading up their cloud division because, back in the day in Vancouver, he sat down and thought to himself, “What will the next big thing be?”

Then he’d heard about the cloud. He started a company based on the technology, sold the company, now runs those divisions in large firms.

There’s an ambition that comes with that, which is that whatever happens, it’s going to be bigger and faster than you think. So, to be aware of that and excited about that, those people with those mindsets are going to be the ones to watch

That said, I’m also influenced by the work of Yuval Noah Harari, who wrote Sapiens.  He cautioned that humans don’t usually see the repercussions of our actions when we innovate and we often make further problems for ourselves, so it’s important to realize there may also be negative consequences to innovation, too, and think about what they can be and what we can do about them.

3. Jacobsen: Who’s an entrepreneur in Canada that impresses you? Either the scale of their industry that they possibly founded, the product that they’re selling that might not be large, or the way they are able to collaborate with a broad swath of different industries to bring about their vision?

Lubik: Oh wow! That’s an excellent question. Who impresses me? Oh! So many people, but still, I’d like to try and pick a famous star in the sky. People impress me for a lot of different reasons. Greg Malpass who is the CEO of Traction on Demand, which is one of the fastest-growing companies in Canada and based here in Vancouver.

He’s an SFU alumnus. He impresses me with both the vision he has for his company and the humility with which he leads it. So, it’s not all about him. It’s about creating this environment and creating a fantastic workplace in the place that he lives and grew up.

They also started Traction for Good, which is the arm of Traction that tries to do good things in their communities. I’m impressed with having a locally created, growing company that hasn’t lost sight of why it’s doing what it’s doing.

That it is part of its community and wants to give back and create those great jobs. Greg has been vocal about not having interest in selling the company There are not many players that grow to that size and remain independent rather than selling.

Then I have early-stage entrepreneurs who impress me as much as the big companies.

They impress me with their vision and with what it is they want to achieve in the world. a few years ago we had a team from the Technology Entrepreneurship at SFU program made up of entrepreneurship students and mechatronics engineers Their goal was to create a hearing device that doesn’t require an audiologist and can be self tuned because people in developing countries have so little access to hearing care.

They were inspired to create a solution because trouble hearing isolates you from your community and your family. So, they were interested in figuring out how you create a business model that lets you go into the world with a product like that and move it into the places in the world that need it the most, not necessarily the places in the world that’ll pay the most for it.

So, I’m impressed with the many early-stage companies. I’m also impressed with the late-stage companies. There’s a number of Internet of Things companies that are doing incredible things. I might be spoiled for choice at the moment.

Then I’m always impressed by social movements and by the people who want to make systems change because those companies have fantastic potential. For example, people trying to take charge of their own genomic information for health.

There are those movements within the research that are all so intriguing. As to where is this going to go next, I’m impressed with people who are creating non-humanoid robots realizing that our first interest in robotics seems to be building machine versions of ourselves.

For example, you see marine biologists working with engineers, working with artificial intelligence, in order to do things like U-CAT (Underwater Curious Archaeology Turtle). They realized that for underwater archaeology, using drones with propellers meant moving too fast to properly scan what’s happening in the sea.

So, they created a robot with flippers that swims like a turtle. Then looks for anything that’s out of the ordinary, then goes and investigates.

I mentioned that to a friend of mine who works here in the environmental physiology lab.

She told me that researchers are thinking of using something like that to explore water moons on other planets. All of a sudden you realize quite how far this research can go when we collaborate across fields.

So, I suppose that’s one of the greatest things about the job that I have is I get to hear about these things and watch people do them and help where I can.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Director of Entrepreneurship, SFU Co-Champion, Technology Entrepreneurships Lecturer, Entrepreneurship & Innovation Concentration Coordinator, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Beedie School of Business, Simon Fraser University.

[2] Individual Publication Date: August 8, 2019:; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019:


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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