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DevFest: The future of AI shapes Calgarians’ lives 

Google DevFest gave attendees a glimpse of the potential of AI in Calgary to shape citizens’ futures. 

DevFest Hosts the annual tech event during Innovation Week in Calgary from Nov. 17 to Nov. 18. It is a Google Developer Groups event that allows people interested in technology to connect, learn, and explore the newest exciting trends in the tech sector. 

This year, Calgary is listed as one of the top 10 deficit-supported DevFest by Google across North America, enjoying the same group of cities such as New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto, etc. 

“We are proud of that; it helps to put Calgary on a larger stage, and Calgary is moving up into a burgeoning tech scene,” said Greg Bennett, cloud and innovation strategist, ecosystem developer, startup founder, and mentor.

Calgary has more Googlers than ever before and more Google Developer experts than ever, organizers said. DevFest had 50 sessions over the two days focusing on four tracks: building for AI web, mobile, cloud and three non-technical ways. 

“Why Calgary? Besides oil and gas, Calgary has plenty of infrastructure and people with talent. Why Google? Google’s core value is to build for everyone, and our CEO always says when we say everyone, we mean everyone,” said Jeremy Neuner, Google Engineering Program Manager. 

Neuner said Calgary is a place that has great potential in the technology boom. Google Startup Accelerator Program helps people with more than just scaling the technology, solutions, customer base and team. 

AI playing a significant role in growing tech field

With the rise of tech and its impact on a variety of field, the growth of AI is playing a crucial part in helping drive that forward and simplify data. 

“AI is one way to predict things, allows us to classify things. We think about the industries here in town. Classification is essential, whether it’s a classification of documents. We have so much data in Calgary, an oil and gas town,” said Bennett. 

Devfest participants attend the DevFest meeting on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023. YAQING KE / LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Google certifications are eight of the top 10 highest-paid certifications. 

“Google could provide a skills boost for all of our attendees; they can take advantage of getting a certification, and these are opportunities employers are looking for,” said Bennett. 

He noted that not every company builds with Google tools. Still, the Android system has a major influence on how things operate, and Google has some of the world’s best Android experts to teach people how to use Android and jetpack tools and libraries that go along with building a better mobile app. 

Google focuses on giving users technical skills versus helping them build the business case or other non-technical pieces. 

“We don’t just automatically change from one thing to the other. Therefore, it’s a great opportunity for technologists to level up their skills and expertise. It helps them to become better candidates in the marketplace,” said Neuner.

Supporting women in tech

Generative AI democratizes technology and has been adopted by millions worldwide. The DevFest girl icon for this year’s event is created mainly by generative AI.

“Generative AI isn’t at the point where it’s 100 percent; it’s more like 80 percent, but that 80 percent takes a lot of work. We’re fortunate to have an incredible number of experts in other topics related to cloud scaling infrastructure,” said Bennett. 

To support women techmakers in the industry and women looking for opportunities in the tech sector. Google supported a program called Women Techmakers, focusing on diversity inclusion in tech that creates strong lineups of females and non-binary folks speaking at a tech event in Calgary. 

“The Women Techmakers ambassador program and membership program are made to support female techmakers in Calgary. It is a global initiative by Google. Women get the benefit of getting all the Google resources and global community support,” said Sherry Yang, Engineering Team Lead at Adaptabvist, Women Techmakers Ambassador with Google. 

Yang mentioned that by bringing this program into Calgary, women would have more access and visibility with the Google Developers Group and DevFest.