Disruptors, an RBC podcast, is an ongoing podcast series co-hosted by SVP John Stackhouse and Trinh Theresa Do about reimagining Canada’s economy in a time of unprecedented change. It features thought-provoking conversations with Canadian business and innovation leaders about planting the seeds of a new economy.
Davos 2023: “Things could be a lot worse”
After a three-year hiatus, the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, came back with a vengeance, just as a fragmented world confronts a confluence of crises.
In this episode, host John Stackhouse offers his key learnings from his visit to the Swiss Alps. Alongside his special co-host Naomi Powell, Managing Editor of RBC Economics and Thought Leadership, John takes us through the memorable moments and key themes from this year’s #WEF2023 in Davos. From complications arising from the war in Ukraine, to the energy transition and the global innovation landscape, listen to John’s front-row seat perspective.
John also talks about the macro and micro trends discussed at the forum, and where Canada can lead. Also, what was the general sentiment around prospects for 2023 among world leaders? Listen in and find out.
Investing in Climate Action: What Canada Can Learn from the US
The world is finally standing up and taking action in the fight against climate change. Billions of dollars are on the table from governments, philanthropists and investors. How will it all be spent?
On this episode of Disruptors, an RBC Podcast, host John Stackhouse speaks to two people with billions of dollars’ worth of decisions to make. Dr. Andrew Steer is the President and CEO of the $10-billion Bezos Earth Fund, and Eli Aheto is a Managing Director at BeyondNetZero, a new climate venture from General Atlantic that invests in high-growth companies developing innovative climate solutions.
Biodiversity 3.0: How to Leverage Nature as an Asset
On this episode of Disruptors, an RBC podcast, host John Stackhouse speaks with the leaders of some of Canada’s most prominent environmental organizations about biodiversity, how to fund it and the best way to incorporate tech into its conservation. Catherine Grenier is the President and CEO of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Dr. Justina Ray is the President and Senior Scientist at Wildlife Conservation Society of Canada, and Hadley Archer is the Executive Director of Nature United. All are partners of RBC’s Tech for Nature program, a $100 million, multi-year commitment to preserving the world’s greatest wealth: its natural ecosystem. Tech for Nature is a global initiative to support new ideas, technologies, and partnerships that address complex environmental challenges.
AI Helped Produce This Episode
AI was expected to revolutionize the way we do just about everything, but the changes that were promised haven’t materialized as quickly as expected. What’s holding AI back, why isn’t AI a massive game changer yet?
On this episode of Disruptors, host John Stackhouse sits down with technology expert Ajay Agrawal to dig into that very question. Ajay is a professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management; a founder of the Creative Destruction Lab, an early proponent of AI ingenuity; and author of Power and Prediction: The Disruptive Economics of Artificial Intelligence, which looks at the economics of the systems in which the technology operates.
This episode also features an exciting new AI technology called GPT-3, which uses deep learning to produce text that reads like it was written by a human. It even provided a brief summary of John and Ajay’s conversation:
“AI has the potential to help reduce discrimination by making it easier to detect and then fix. However, too much regulation of AI has the potential to stifle innovation. Canada is doing well on the research side of AI, but there is room for improvement on the application side.”
Amazingly concise! This episode also features an AI-generated John Stackhouse, so listen in and see if you can hear the difference.
COP27: Turning Talk into Action?
Amidst a backdrop of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, rapidly rising inflation, ever-lingering COVID, and near constant political convulsions, COP27 took on an unprecedented weight.
With special guest co-host Naomi Powell, Managing Editor of RBC Economics and Thought Leadership, host John Stackhouse takes us with him to Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt for a meeting of the world’s leaders and top thinkers. From the beaches to the boardroom, John has a front row seat at COP27 (Conference of the Parties) also known as the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
In this episode, join John as he shares his insights into the successes and failures of COP27 and where Canada stands out. Is the goal of halting global warming at 1.5*C still attainable? Listen in and find out.
The Growing Challenge Part 3: The Hidden Threat of Food Spoilage and Waste
It’s an issue that’s estimated to cost Canada more than $21 billion per year -- nevermind the environmental impacts. But how much thought have you really given to the problem of food waste and spoilage, and how it could be hampering our country’s effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
On this episode of Disruptors, an RBC podcast, co-hosts John Stackhouse and Trinh Theresa Do wrap up their special, three-part series called, “The Growing Challenge”, with an in-depth examination of how both food waste and spoilage represent a huge and often overlooked obstacle to our nation’s sustainability efforts. Not only is Canada one of the most wasteful countries on the planet, but organic waste that ends up in landfills also generates methane, an extremely potent greenhouse gas.
In addition to some familiar voices, John and Theresa will also hear from Meeru Dhalwala, author, chef, and restaurateur; Randy Huffman, the Chief Food Safety and Sustainability Officer at Maple Leaf Foods; Kevin Groh, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs at Loblaw Companies Limited; as well as Jeremy Lang, the founder and Vice-President of Sustainability at Pela Earth and Lomi.
I have been living outside of Canada for 15 years but since I discovered Disruptors, I feel a new intellectual connection to my country so thank you!
One reaction to episode 14 on the possibility of a cashless economy in Canada and its impact on financial inclusion. Given that innovative technology enables financial transactions to take place via mobile phones (while ensuring KYC) without bank accounts, a cashless economy would actually empower millions of underprivileged MSMEs to generate revenues and pay suppliers/staff without the cost of physical movements. This could accelerate the transition from the informal to the formal economy, especially for immigrants. In the Caribbean where I live, this would provide access to the 30million visitors who visit the region every year but don’t like to carry cash around. Banks are just too slow and chicken to embrace the new market.
One suggestion for future content: the digitalization of the economy, and the services economy in particular, requires proactive leadership that is not only concerned about compliance to regulations but also their social responsibility. When the car industry became mainstreamed, thousands of people had to die before regulations imposed seatbelt, airbag,etc. The private sector can shape the digital economy before regulators react by imposing background checks on participants, cybersecurity, and capacity building of partnering entities. Such exemplary leadership will build comparative advantage that will also sustain our values as Canadian over the next century.
Continue the great work!
The show feels very technocentric. Very optimistic about energy/food/etc futures but still under a global capitalist system. Wish there was more discussion about degrowth solutions and, similarly, about political solutions for dismantling the many underlying power structures that tend to deepen inequality when techno futures become a reality.
Fabulous content, guests, host!
Production values are top notch. Also, John is an incredibly polished, engaging, knowledgeable, and charismatic host! The topics are always spot-on for me, and the depth and breadth of coverage of each topic seems ideal. Although I would love more episodes, more frequency, I would not want it at the possible degradation of quality. Highly recommended!