Shift by Alberta Innovates

Building synthetic cities with Myrna Bittner and Edmonton-based RUNWITHIT Synthetics

February 22, 2022 Myrna Bittner Season 3 Episode 4
Shift by Alberta Innovates
Building synthetic cities with Myrna Bittner and Edmonton-based RUNWITHIT Synthetics
Show Notes Transcript

Remember Ian Malcolm, Jeff Goldblum's character from Jurassic Park? He's a scientist interested in an esoteric branch of mathematics called chaos theory, the study of unpredictable behaviour in systems governed by deterministic laws.

I'd like unpack that preceding paragraph into three points:

  1. Chaos theory is legit form of math. 
  2. Jeff Golblum's character Malcolm was awesome and goes onto appear in two sequels.
  3. Unpredictably is what makes the future complicated.

Today's podcast focuses primarily on this third point.

If we knew what would happen when we introduce change we'd always make better decisions. We don't, however, always know what the repercussions will be.

Or do we?

Myrna Bittner and her company RUNWITHIT Synthetics have devised a way to construct synthetic cities for the express purpose of gaining a better understanding of how the introduction of "unpredictable behaviour in systems governed by deterministic laws" impacts the whole.

To quote Bittner, "we do that all using what we call synthetic modeling, which is like SimCity except for real, for real cities, for real populations, for climate events."

BAM. Prepare to have your mind blown.

Bio

Myrna Bittner


Myrna is the CEO and Co-Founder of RUNWITHIT Synthetics, an advanced data modelling and visualization company designing decarbonization, sustainability, equity, resilience, and growth initiatives globally.   Myrna is passionate about connecting today's technology, policy, and infrastructure choices to data about the impacts and outcomes for people and our planet. 

Last year, seven years after incorporation, the growing RUNWITHIT team celebrated numerous international awards, including the United Nation’s Global Call for Decarbonization, Taiwan’s Top Technology Gold Medal, Toyota Mobility Foundation’s City Architecture of Tomorrow Challenge, NATO’s Space Awareness, USAF’s AFWERX Showcase, Airbus Defence “Beyond Net-Zero," along with the “Most Edmonton” YEG Startup Company. 
 
RUNWITHIT is a women-led, Certified Aboriginal Business, with a GBA+ Certified team of diverse and talented 3D animators, designers, and scientists in social, data, computing, and engineering disciplines. 

 Jon:
Warning, prepare to have your mind blown. Our next guest is a world builder. She and her company build synthetic cities and then apply changes to that synthetic city to see how the infrastructure and the people respond. Whether it's a pandemic like COVID or it's a power station that goes out, she can determine how that's going to impact the rest of the city. Sit back, settle in, welcome to Shift.

Jon:
So Myrna, you've won the Global Call for Innovative Solutions in Cleantech and Sustainable Land Management, part of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization Global Call, and then following that Taiwan's top tech Gold Medal at MobileHeroes. What does RUNWITHIT Synthetics do? Why are you garnering so much global attention?

Myrna:
I think we have really been able to take a unique perspective on deploying tools and digital tools that help people get better at the future. The future isn't linear, the future isn't well known or described often, it's super complicated, there's all kinds of things that are interconnected and ripple effects and unexpected things that happen. There's also the opportunity to use digital tools to help people march through those things and explore what's imaginable and what's unimaginable, and then build the right systems and approaches and adaptability that is going to be required. We do that all using what we call synthetic modeling, which is like SimCity except for real, for real cities, for real populations, for climate events.

Myrna:
In this world, we're able to not only kind of recreate the world of today, but then ask and implement the questions that people are wanting to know about policy and technology and infrastructure and growth. Then we get to measure everything because it's a virtual world. We can measure GHG emissions from every single tailpipe in that world if we want and if somebody puts a different number of bike rakes at a train station, we can again measure the difference that that makes, how many vehicles and different kinds of trips are changed or altered because of those first and last mile solutions, and what the actual emissions of those tailpipes would've been if those people had been sitting in traffic instead. It creates this incredible data playground and helps us understand the impacts of the choices that we're making today, and accelerate those better choices that we're making for tomorrow.

Jon:
Holy... Myrna, the obvious question here is are you from the future?

Katie:
Yeah, I was going to ask is it a crystal ball that you use?

Myrna:
Well, I wish. We always say we don't predict the future, but we help people go to many different futures and then get the data that they need from there. So yes, we do spend a lot of time as a company in the future and sometimes it feels like 2040 is an everyday here because a lot of people have kind of set their targets for, "What's going to happen? If we do this today, what will 2040 be like?" But no, I'm not from the future.

Jon:
Now, you said something very interesting at the start... Well, a lot very interesting, but one thing really peaked my curiosity. You mentioned like SimCity. I'm not a video game guy but SimCity was a video game, right?

Myrna:
Yeah. I think it's a really kind of famous video game. I know I watched my kids play with it and I might've spent a few hours there myself a couple decades ago, but it really enabled people to see the world as this group of systems and people. Really, one of the central parts about SimCity was about the people that were there. You were creating cities for people and watching what happened, you were creating households and jobs and economics and feeding them and building homes that made them happy. Those are all things that we do in our synthetic cities that's really foundational, is how we develop and synthesize the population and then ask from those very human centric perspectives again, "What are the consequences of the choices we're making to our transportation system or to our energy system or a disaster?" And really being able to look at people and what's happening and how can we make human impact, minimize the bad stuff and maximize the good parts.

Katie:
As you were talking, Myrna, my brain is just going a million miles a minute because I can see the possibility of using your technology for everything, from urban populations to rural populations to sustainable growth to, "How do we feed a growing population with limited resources?" I can see so many opportunities for your kind of technology in today's world. What I'm asking or what I want to know is what kind of data points are you typically using for your average clients?

Myrna:
We try to, for a lot of our clients, just stay in the realm of publicly available data because our goal is to make a living lab that rather than focusing on data that might have privacy protection or restrictions, we're actually synthesizing a population that's never been identified. They're generated people. We want people to be able to ask questions and get good answers without... And the specifics of the actual kind of surveillance data isn't required. I think that's... Like you say, there are so many different topics that people are wanting to address and we get asked so many questions by experts, and that's the wonderful part about the way we look at data, is there is some data that exists, there's a lot of research and studies. Really, for us it's being able to make use of that expertise sometimes, the research sometimes, but to create models that then generate data so that we aren't restricted to that kind of, "Oh, that data point never existed." We can say, "Well, what would've been useful from that data point? How can we create a model that actually generates the data that was missing?"

Myrna:
This is really important when it comes to things like growth, when it comes to things that are unprecedented and especially when it comes to things that have never been counted or are hard to count, so vulnerable populations, very complex intersectionalities of different features of the human milieu and people, marginalized populations. Those kinds of things are very hard to count and they have restricted the amount of progress we can make, I feel, in understanding the absolute essentials around diversity and inclusion and equity when it comes to issues, and some really important issues that we're facing around things such as climate and social justice around climate and futures in cities. It's a unique approach of using a ton of whatever datasets exist that we feel are of use and then being able to add and layer research and expertise on top of it. We're not the experts at everything, but the experts are asking us questions so as much as possible we try to make use of things that they have come across and their knowledge and include those in their modeled world.

Jon:
It's fascinating because you mentioned policy as well. If I understand correctly, you're developing a synthetic city, now you'll add a variable to that synthetic city and then see how the city responds to that variable.

Myrna:
Yes.

Jon:
Let's say that variable is a policy. The reason I mention is we've been doing a series on hydrogen recently and our most recent episode we spoke about hydrogen policy, federal, provincial and jurisdictional. So someone could come to you then, one of these levels of government could come to you and say, "Okay. We want to institute this policy for hydrogen, whatever it is. Show me how this will impact everything from the population as whole right down to the specific demographics within that population."

Myrna:
Yeah, and that's our aim. Things that are even adjacent to hydrogen, so funding for post secondaries, for example, and specific development of program types that are going to be the jobs of the future that we need to start planning for today, so we need to... Even those kinds of policies, so that when we're working in a hydrogen transition environment we can look at the workforce and say, "These are the types of skills depending on the infrastructure or innovation, manufacturing or supply chain that we're going to need." And we know when we're going to need them because we're starting to look at when that infrastructure is going to come into place. Then how can we use that information to say, "These are the types of policy, funding, incentives that are going to be required in lockstep and look what happens if we have them and look what happens if we don't."

Jon:
Wow.

Myrna:
And what may be needed to mitigate in certain circumstances as well.

Katie:
We have this little thing called COVID-19 still plaguing our world after a couple years. Has any of your work been done with COVID-19 and the pandemic? Have you been looking at what the future's going to look for our cities in light of the pandemic?

Myrna:
A little bit, and from some interesting perspectives, not the ones that you necessarily anticipate. At the beginning of the pandemic because we're modeling and modeling human behavior and impact and health aspects and is what we do, we were very interested in supporting initiatives and understanding around aerosolized transmission. That was coming out and there was some early indicators, and we model what ifs so even with those early indicators we were like, "What if there is aerosolized transmission? What does that mean for commute?" We thought reengagement was going to happen a lot faster than it did, but we thought, "What is reengagement going to look like?" This was in May of 2019, and there wasn't a lot of interest. I don't think there was a lot of understanding about risk and mask efficacy and policy and public transportation, and so we did our own studies in support of that research.

Myrna:
What that triggered really was some fascinating modeling initiatives for people like utilities, so that was one of the first big questions we were asked in the US by the Electric Power Research Institute was, "Show us now what our new reality looks like as a utility industry for COVID-19 and other disasters such as outages? We need to know because we need to know who's at risk, what we can do about it if there is an outage, the increased risk, human impact, public health. Do we change our repair priorities? Where are the most vulnerable? How is this going impact the economics of our customers?"

Myrna:
It was actually not public health that was asking us, it was adjacent industries and that's the wonderful part about now having done that modeling and initiated that with a utility. We can now bring that into public transportation modeling and because it's become a part of our world, and now people understand that there's even different charging patterns for electric vehicles that are going to happen. The shift to home dominant charging for a certain aspect of the population is now more likely than work dominant just because of people kind of change everything. When our behavior changes due to certain risk factors, so does the world around us and what we demand of it.

Jon:
Do you speak to the accuracy of your models?

Myrna:
Yes, and we get asked that a lot because we are modeling futures and, of course, we're modeling multiple futures so not all of them happen. I think the accuracy of our models comes from validations that we do from baselines, so looking at today. It also comes from being able to layer and incorporate multiple different, for example, research perspectives and results and kind of multiply the accuracy of that by continuing to add models that also implement different aspects of behavior. This might be kind of too technical, but really it comes from this is the best knowledge that we have on this planet. We're putting it all in one place and we are watching it and saying, "Is that likely?" With the subject matter experts.

Myrna:
"Is this the best estimation of what would happen here?" If something odd happens, "Is that possible? Is that practical? Where did this kind of behavior emerge and why?" We also make everything very explainable so if the experts say, "No. That doesn't look right. I think we need to factor this in or we need to change the way this triggers something in a model," we can adjust it and say, "Let's look at that." We're not future predictors, we're kind of multiple future builders and I think it's a far better kind of integrated approach at trying to understand what is coming than actually saying, "This is our prediction and if it doesn't happen, we'll be wrong." Yeah. It's a big process.

Jon:
Pardon the comic book analogy, but it's like you're creating multiverses. You could say, "Okay. Here's the factor and let's put that factor in and generate a synthetic city, but then let's alter that factor somewhat or that variable somewhat and we'll create multiple synthetic cities based on this changing variable to see if we put this much of X into our cities, this will be the result. If we put X minus Y into our cities, this will be the result." Then those decision makers, policy makers, industry leaders, whoever you're working with, which sounds like you could work with anyone in this regard, will help them make informed decisions.

Myrna:
Yes. It really depends on how critical the factor is, the amount of fidelity and detail. If it's a really high risk scenario that they're needing to assess and there's a lot of financial or safety or health implications, that's a completely different project than a broad future 30 years from now and the potential of electrification or hydrogen in a city. There's just a lot of distance between now and then where different factors could intervene or could change the course of things. That's one of the things that we enjoy doing, is as that latest research comes in or new understanding comes in, like COVID, we can factor those things in very quickly and then dial forward and see, "Now how does that look when new information is available?"

Katie:
We're talking a lot about variables here and this is... I'm going to preface this by saying that you probably can't speak to a lot of details because of client confidentiality or whatever, but I was wondering if you had any favorite, promising variables for Alberta or Edmonton or Calgary?

Myrna:
I think that there is... We have an incredible potential in the workforce, the quality of life, the immigration that we are enabling here to support that workforce and I think being able to understand that and understand how much even businesses like RUNWITHIT are able to capitalize and have a quality of life and extraordinary talent from Canada and from around the world, it has huge innovative capability. I think being able to direct that and promote that in front of the world, especially a world where energy transition is such a critical part of decarbonization, and taking that kind of understanding of energy transition and its adjacent aspects in agriculture and artificial intelligence and health and many others and turning that to our advantage, I think is a really important thing for Edmonton and Alberta.

Katie:
If you're interested in learning more about clean technology and our pathway to net zero, you should join us at Inventures live in Calgary June 1st to 3rd. Early bird pricing is available until March 31st. Visit inventurescanada.com.

Jon:
We started this off by talking about a couple of major awards that you've received. Now, it seems that there's a lot going on globally. What's it like locally? What sort of pick up are you getting? I noticed there was a piece on CTV about you guys a while back, but, honestly, the work you're doing is blowing my mind. There's so many possibilities. How come we're not hearing more about this? How come there's not this pick up from all levels of government and all entrepreneurs in Edmonton and in Calgary and in between jumping to this? I guess tech validation, how does that work? Explain it to me.

Myrna:
It's starting now. That's one of the things that has been just a fantastic part of the end of our 2021, was that we had the group at Edmonton Global really stick kind of a center tent pole in bringing synthetics and what we do here to Alberta, and beginning to look at regions and regional transitions and futures and growth plans and health and education and electrification. Now it's spreading happily. There's conversations across the province, where it looks like this synthetic Edmonton region might become synthetic Alberta as well. So we're really excited about that. This is something that we could've have imagined and that really has come from, I think, the recognition of the work that we have been doing internationally and how we could make use of this here at home. It's super exciting for us.

Jon:
No kidding. But now talk to me about the tech validation though, because... So this went... It's almost like you had to go outside your jurisdiction, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and you had to go somewhere else to get someone else to go, "Yeah, this is great technology." Then to come back to your home and say, "Okay. This has been validated externally." Talk to me a little bit about that as an entrepreneurial journey. What's that like?

Myrna:
Yeah. It's challenging, and I think we had some great early adopters when we first started doing synthetic environments for digital systems here in Alberta. That was a sector that we were familiar with and we had friends and relationships and inroads in, but then when we started doing international work it was really... Because a lot of the programs are designed for export and capability, I think there's a lot of innovation programs that are really focused on international markets because they're bigger and you have more of a chance of getting in the innovations doors internationally and having more of a market kind of reference and uptake than you do here locally, but it was super hard. It's expensive, it takes an enormous amount of time.

Myrna:
As a innovator before COVID you had to go, you had to actually be there in market and shaking hands. I spent two years where I think I was out of Canada more than I was in Canada, which is really challenging as a mum and for families to manage. There's a whole bunch of issues that pushing companies to export and gain marketing credibility bring. A lot of support and support of programs, but it's still a huge hill to climb. Then I think it was important to have that international recognition. Sometimes you look at your neighbor and you don't quite see all that they are or represent on an international market. Somebody may come back with some of those accolades and then you see them in a different light. I think that's part of what's gone on here in Edmonton too, is maybe there is some disbelief internally or some lack of being able to take a risk with an Edmonton company truly. And yet when you see the rest of the world celebrating, then you look back at home and go, "Hey. Wow. This must be really cool."

Katie:
I'm happy for you but I feel like that's really sad. It's sad that you had to go out to get that validation and you couldn't receive it first at home.

Jon:
And on that note, what do you think we can do as a province to support companies as they start to move through that phase, their journey as they get closer to commercializing? What can we do as a province to come together to help that?

Myrna:
I think that everybody looks to large industry or, in Edmonton's case, government because they are large industry to how to support innovators and adoption. I really think that there needs to be more commitment and more mandates to those important programs that ensure that our large industry and our governments are actually using the technology that they're asking innovators to develop and in trial programs and in reference cases and promoting those with great relish on an international market. I think that those reference cases are so important. So yeah, that is one of the things that I think I've always struggled with, is why isn't there more access or if you're going to receive federal and provincial and municipal funds for innovation, spend it on innovators. There's a lot of intra entrepreneurship going on in a lot of those agencies too, and that concerns me, that that maybe isn't being allocated to actually promoting the innovation that we require.

Katie:
We mentioned before that technology jobs in Alberta is just soaring. I think there was a CBRE report that just came out and our minister of jobs, economy and innovation, Doug Schweitzer, has been talking about it on Twitter. Alberta is really, really booming with technology jobs and tech creation industry, so from your perspective, Myrna, is that sustainable? Does Alberta have what it takes now to hold those jobs and keep them?

Myrna:
I think so, but I think we, again, need to look at how far ahead we're planning. The cutbacks to our post secondary institutes are really concerning for me. One the one hand, there's new pathways to immigration and kind of accelerating immigration for specific sectors. That's great and that's really important to support the people and the international students and Canadian students who are graduating, but I think supporting the post secondary institutions and understanding their role in the future and developing our course, even tomorrow because that's, I think, where we have 90% of the people who work at our company are graduates of the University of Alberta. They come from Canada and international, and so that access to talent is just going to be... We have to integrate all of the parts of that machine. Housing support, permanent residency support, immigration pathways, all of that, they all have to work together. It's not just for the technology industry because we happen to have an aging population, remember I spend a lot of time in 2040, and we're going to need just a ton of different jobs and services to support this new kind of demographic bubble as well.

Katie:
I know too, Myrna, you are an indigenous woman and you do a lot of work with indigenous businesses and EDI is something that is really important to equity, diversity and inclusion. I even see behind you have your acts of reconciliation on the board, so I was just wondering what kind of things does RWI do to help further indigenous entrepreneurs and women entrepreneurs?

Myrna:
I'll just make one correction because I'm not an indigenous woman, but my husband, who's...

Katie:
Oh, okay. Sorry.

Myrna:
... CTO and partner, is indigenous so I'm married [crosstalk 00:28:25].

Katie:
Apologies. [crosstalk 00:28:25].

Myrna:
Yeah, no worries. But we are a Certified Aboriginal Business, and one of the most important things that we are doing is to represent this in deep tech, artificial intelligence, international stage as a company. That's one of the important things, I think, that we do, is oftentimes we're questioned even why we mention being a Certified Aboriginal Business and that may seem kind of odd to mention in that landscape. I think it's important to demonstrate the art of the possible and be a firm that is winning international awards and brings that legacy and understanding with us wherever we go. Another thing that we do also is a huge part of our environments that we create is always to characterize all aspects of populations in as much detail as we can, and invite that engagement to inform, for example, what the future and the choices and the generational choices that we're making today for all populations... So seeing and bringing that visibility into not only engagement, but also into future considerations about impacts on the planet and social impacts.

Myrna:
We spend a lot time in our environments also looking at vulnerable populations in, I think, more detail than is often available and bring that to the fore because social justice and innovation around vulnerable populations is absolutely a critical part of sustainability as well as diversity and inclusion and equity. They don't exist without each other in our environments, and fascinating and fabulous when we get asked those questions in industries where you would never expect, so stormwater equity was a new one. It was like, "Oh. What? Okay, yes." You begin to look at not just what happens when it rains and we're dealing with flooding in cities, but who is being the most impacted. Oftentimes, there is enormous issues that need to be responded to about those impacts and vulnerable populations and who is being impacted the most. We're looking forward to working with potentially the federal government in the future to develop these kinds of resilience and equity and impact and choice models for remote communities as well.

Jon:
That's fantastic. Now, you mentioned potentially working with the federal government, you talked about synthetic Edmonton, potentially synthetic Alberta. Can you give us a sense of who else you're working with in ecosystem? Are there anything you can share or are things still simmering that are not in a sharable format yet?

Myrna:
There are still lots of things in unshareable format, but they really... The surprise for us has been the interest from government. This isn't familiar to us. We have primarily dealt with industry and research institutes and OEMs who have been asking us questions, but here in Canada happily it's been municipalities and utilities.

Jon:
How many people are with RUNWITHIT Synthetics right now? How many do you employ?

Myrna:
We have 24 that are full time on the team and then we have some students and fractionals that are with us that make up 33.

Jon:
Okay.

Katie:
What's next for RWI Synthetics? I mean, you have your crystal ball so where are you guys heading in the next five years?

Jon:
I also see you just moved into new digs too, so congratulations.

Katie:
Yeah, you did. That's right.

Myrna:
Yes, we did. Yeah. We have a footprint so The Goodwill Project that was put on by Tim Carwell, who's the owner of CommAlert, was a competition for free office space for two years. Beautiful furnished office space on Jasper Ave. We were the very lucky recipients of that, so yes.

Katie:
I can't think of anyone more deserving of that, so really big congratulations, Myrna.

Jon:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Myrna:
Oh, thanks. Yeah. I think we're right above where Innovate Edmonton is also building their space out so it's going to be a really dynamic district. I'm really excited about that. Yeah.

Jon:
Yeah.

Katie:
So what's next for you guys, then?

Myrna:
What's next is more growing. We are really kind of in a growth mode and have our locksteps for different markets and what that means, and a lot of rinse and repeat I'm hoping is kind of the theme of this year.

Katie:
When I was doing some research for you, I ran across an article where you mentioned that space is going to be your next frontier. Can you talk about that?

Myrna:
Oh, that's so cool. Yes. We have all different kinds of internal names for what we're doing there that are way out there, but no, we have been invited to participate in a space exercise in Washington in April. Our technology is going to be kind of the connector between everybody from grid operators and experts to space weather experts and government, and they're looking at what happens with large coronal ejection events. There is space weather that is rather unpredictable and they're concerned about the impacts on our communication systems and our satellites, as well as our grid infrastructure. It's a fantastic tabletop version of what we do and it's fascinating.

Jon:
No kidding. Yeah.

Katie:
That's really cool. Really, really cool.

Jon:
Yeah. I'm just curious now, when you talk about the synthetic cities and all that, for some reason it just popped into my mind as you were talking about coronal ejections, do you foresee a time when you're going to have these three dimensional models that you can build? Kind of like maybe a Tom Cruise film where he's manipulating these three dimensional events.

Katie:
Or like Tony Stark, you know? Yeah.

Jon:
Yeah, yeah.

Myrna:
That's what's happening in Washington in April.

Jon:
What?

Katie:
Oh, what? That's so cool.

Myrna:
Yeah.

Katie:
No wonder you're excited.

Jon:
I think you need... No kidding. I think you need to bring along a couple of people to document all of this.

Katie:
I volunteer.

Jon:
We'll... Just putting that out there. One thing we didn't ask, though, in terms of your entrepreneurial journey, where did this idea come from? This is very heavy.

Myrna:
Well, they say 30 year success story or whatever, but really I think this started a very long time ago with different technology that we were creating. It kind of really came to a focus in 2014 when we started the company because we felt like the world had gotten really complex and that there was a lot of promise that technology offered that it couldn't deliver because it always seemed to be behind what was happening in reality, and surprised, if technology has a personality. It always seemed to be really surprised by the reality that it was encountering, whether that was more users or people or deployments or rollouts or road conditions or you name it, and that we needed to find a way to get ahead of that and build a reality that hadn't happened yet so these systems could kind of figure it out.

Myrna:
I think when we started being asked to create cities, it really became obvious how challenged even cities and people were about the future. I can't even plan when I'm going to have my lunch. I can't think that far ahead, and then when things get so interconnected, like things are in this world, and when the pressures of, "We need to make significant changes as quickly as possible to preserve our planet, let alone people," those kinds of things I think just add that level of pressure and that dimension and that responsibility. If you have a technology that you can continue to build and add and contribute to that kind of a difference in the world and people's understanding of what they can do to make the world a better place, it's really hard to turn that off. [inaudible 00:38:12] crazy trajectory of just how far can we reach and how well can we do that and how quickly can we bring that to as many people as possible.

Jon:
And in eight years, it sounds like. That's incredible. Eight years, from inception to where you are now. That's some serious reach. As you were talking, God I keep coming up with these analogies, I was thinking Jurassic Park too, Dr. Malcolm, whatever, I can't remember his last name. Chaos theory, right? The water on your... And the world is so complex, the butterfly flapping its wings in China, how that's going to impact a monsoon in another part of the world. This is just such incredible technology you're talking about. Oh, Katie, I'll let you go ahead. I'm just in awe.

Katie:
Yeah. You had me at Jeff Goldblum and Jurassic Park, though, Jon. Myrna, I'm just wondering, are you optimistic about our future? I mean, you're creating all these synthetic realities. Are you optimistic and what are you optimistic about? 

Myrna:
I have to be optimistic. Most determined about the importance of the human factor in everything that we do, and not necessarily the human factor in terms of consequence but the human factor in terms of opportunity to help change minds because I think we can science the crap out of futures and know exactly rationally what needs to be done to get there. But it's bringing people along and [inaudible 00:40:00] and awareness and sophistication of conversation and choices that aren't always well understand today, helping inform them so people can understand why they're suffering some discomfort today for what isn't necessary for the future tomorrow. I think that's the part that I guess that I'm finding most challenging to my optimism, is... And most determined, and that's why we spend a lot of time doing visualizations and very sophisticated visualizations, is to help people actually see the information that they need to make the changes in their thinking or their perspective or their actions that the better future won't happen without them.

Jon:
This has been utterly fascinating. I think I've made it pretty clear that I'm blown away by all of this. I'm so excited. I think I can speak for Katie too, that we're excited to see how this unfolds for you. I'm stoked to hear what happens in Washington with the space stuff you're talking about. Please, let's have a conversation after that and get some video. I want to see all this stuff. It's fascinating, and your approach is so holistic too with the population of the different demographics, how these things going to impact society as a whole and how we can move forward and bring people forward with these conversations. I think it's amazing. Thank you very much for spending the time with us.

Katie:
Thank you, Myrna.

Myrna:
Thank you so much.

Katie:
Thanks for tuning in. For more Shift content, visit shift.albertainnovates.ca.