WNC president: ‘Big data’ era, tech boom will dictate Northern Nevada’s future | nnbw.com

WNC president: ‘Big data’ era, tech boom will dictate Northern Nevada’s future

Anne Knowles


Dr. Vincent R. Solis is president of Western Nevada College.
Candice Vivien / Nevada Momentum | Nevada Momentum

CARSON CITY, Nev. — Big box stores and shopping malls will disappear, phones will go the way of the horse and buggy, and artificial beef will be on the menu.

That’s a glimpse of the future delivered by Dr. Vincent Solis, president, Western Nevada College, who spoke at the Carson City Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon on March 20 in the Gold Dust West.

Right now, we’re in the era of big data, with technology collecting all kinds of information about each of us. It’s used to feed us customized news, products and information, he said.

Solis illustrated the point with an anecdote about a WNC employee. The employee moved in with her fiancé, who had Alexa, the virtual assistant from Amazon.

She found Alexa creepy, said Solis, so she told her boyfriend — within Alexa’s earshot, apparently — it was either her or Alexa, one of them had to go. Soon, the woman was getting messages on her social media feeds: “We buy used engagement rings.”

By 2030, Solis said there will be 7 billion people or 82 percent of the world’s population hooked to the Internet.

“They’ll be solving problems, making applications. It will level the playing field,” he said.

Soon, an evolving technology will usher in changes as monumental and sweeping as the invention of agriculture.

“The next wave is AI,” or artificial intelligence, he said.

Solis said digital agents will take over any job, or aspect of a job, that’s repetitive.

“Within 20 years, 50 percent of any job has the potential to be replaced by digital agents,” he said.

He suggested students stick to math and learn coding, and look at careers that involve creativity. He said a computer fed thousands of jokes to find patterns still can’t write its own quip.

“Machines can’t be creative,” he said.

Solis said young people today are under a lot of stress because their lives are lived online, where anyone can comment and ridicule.

“The teen suicide rate in Nevada has doubled in the last year,” he said.

The suicide rate among Nevada children and teenagers nearly doubled in 2018 with 27 deaths compared to 15 suicides in 2017, according to the state’s Office of Suicide Prevention.

But, Solis said technology gives today’s kids advantages, too.

“It is not all doom and gloom,” he said. “Today’s students are the most well-informed people on the planet.”