Ontario has a responsibility to herself to ensure that the Province and its people are prepared for the future, to both embrace it and to shape it, through the development of an innovation society.
Innovation in technology, or anything, cannot readily be proscribed but is instead the positive by-product of context and conditions.
While society through its governments may create short bursts of research, development, and some resultant innovation through financing or other indirect support programs that mitigate risks or focus efforts, true innovation emerges slowly and thoughtfully over time even though we typically come to recognise it only in its moment of revolutionary culmination.
The conditions for innovation that we seek require a much broader foundation than specific program investments or incentives in order to address, respond to, and in the first instance, design, the future for Ontario.
If necessity is the mother of invention, then critical thinking is her father.
Ontario’s future as a world leader in innovation in all areas known and unknown will be decided by our systems of education from start to finish. While specialization and repetition are functionally valuable in production they are simultaneously detrimental to innovation and critical thinking. Ontario must pursue an education model that emphasizes consilience, independence, and, critical thinking from pre-school through lifelong learning.
The reorganisation of the education system in Ontario is the first and last step toward building an innovation society and economy.
We must first turn to our educators and empower them as professionals and not labourers. Their unions must be displaced by self-governing Professional Associations not unlike in the fields of Health, and Law.
We must then provide the resources they require to succeed in achieving their purpose and calling as educators which is equally our demand from the education system; independent critical thinkers.
The reallocation of existing educators to provide greater intimacy in the learning environment at the young ages, evolving to larger and ever larger populations of students per educator as the teacher’s role evolves from instruction to guidance and facilitation.
We must establish and embrace a system of education that empowers students in nothing in particular that they may be prepared to succeed in anything and everything.
Trades and Professional degrees may be pursued or not pursued by our citizens and the choice should be premised on the very simple concept of investment risk and potential reward. The purview for these functional training realms should be beyond the public system.
Our singular purpose in education must be to develop independent critical thinkers. Only thus will we create the conditions in Ontario of citizens ready to create and lead in the face of any and all futures; a truly innovative society.
In addition; the development of an innovation society, requires that we allow it in the first place. We must eliminate the systemic barriers to innovation in Ontario, and there are many across all industries. Industry-led government regulation that creates and maintains barriers to entry into markets or industries are themselves barriers to innovation.
With the reasonable consideration of public safety at the fore, we must examine established major industries and identify regulatory exceptions that would allow for and support innovation. There are multitudes of possible examples but I offer here but one; the auto industry.
The advent of technology into the automobile and our evolution toward electric self-driving vehicles currently demands that these new technologies and capabilities meet standards of safety and testing that relate specifically to the condition of fuel and combustion vehicles. These old rules need not apply.
Creating conditions and a regulatory framework that allows smart-electric vehicles to be much lighter or otherwise different than the current jalopy fleet opens the door to innovations that have been beyond our reach, locked out only by regulation.
The Ontario innovation society and innovation economy will be determined by our commitment to the independent critical thinking of every citizen, and the reasonable willingness to embrace managed risk; where success in the former self-fulfills the latter through the natural reduction of risk in the presence of critical thinking.
Descartes famous statement “Cogito ergo sum” may soon be innovated into “Ontarian ergo cogito”.