‟FWD50 is an opportunity to work on my job—asking why I do what I do, and whether that is changing—rather than in it.”
Technology shapes every facet of modern life. But will it hurt or help us?
Too often, technological advancement is either demonized as a job-stealing, privacy-violating terror; or beatified as a panacea come to rescue us from our worst selves. But there’s a middle ground—a way forward that shapes technology to benefit us, building the kind of society we want atop it.
In the immediate future, tech can streamline the way countries govern today, improving antiquated processes and updating how citizens and the government interact at every level. In the long term, it lets us reimagine what’s possible for nations, anticipating pitfalls while putting the best innovations to work.
But we must not sit idly by and let the future happen to us. We must shape it. It must be used by us, not just on us. And that’s why we launched FWD50 in 2017.
FWD50 explores this transition, marrying policymaking, technology, ethics, and invention.
Because it’s time for some forward thinking.
FWD50 throughout the years
From the outset, FWD50 was a global event that brought many countries together in new and unexpected ways:
- In 2017, FWD50 included the participation of six countries.
- In early 2018, partly as a result of those conversations, Canada joined the Digital Nations, with whom we’re now partnering on content. We also introduced the Circlesquare interactive format.
- In 2019, FWD50 added a Regional Digital Government Summit; months later, regional Chief Digital Officers continue that conversation at regular meetings.
- In 2020, we welcomed the Digital Nations and members of the global Civic Tech movement, and demonstrated new ways to connect virtually that have since been adopted within governments worldwide.
- In 2021, we hosted the first ever government policy pitch contest, G-Factor. 2 winners are currently working on their proposals and will present the results this fall.
- In 2022, we ran our first truly hybrid event, bringing what we learned from two years online into the physical world. From scannable conversation starters, to soundproofed interview booths, to a full-stage studio, the conference was a triumphant return to a world still recovering from a global pandemic.
- In 2023, we expanded the hybrid format with a second building; switch platforms to improve virtual networking; added dedicated content just for online attendees, launched a library of books written by our past and current speakers, and held our largest event ever with over 3,500 folks online and more than 1,000 in person.