CoreNet Global kicked off its North American Summit in Boston with a welcome from Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, updates from Chairman David Kamen, Chief Executive Officer Angela Cain, and an insightful presentation on the state of artificial intelligence and the impact of robots.

But even before all that, phenomenal 12-year-old motivational speaker King Nahh reminded the audience that the airplane was once an idea that people doubted would ever become a reality.

“Don’t be afraid of the future, because you are the future,” he said.

Cain provided an update on the success of the association, now with more than 11,000 members, a new certification, the QPCR (Qualified Professional of Corporate Real Estate) and Future Forward, a wide ranging project in which hundreds of members around the globe are participating in discussions that will lead to a vision of the association for 2025. Also new to the summit this year is CNG tv, which joins the podcasts in CoreNet Global’s digital line up.

The morning was dedicated to artificial intelligence. Dr. Kate Darling, Research Specialist at the MIT Media Lab spoke about the instinct to humanize robots. She relayed examples of children treating Roombas as pets, a study in which a group of people refused to destroy a robotic toy dinosaur, and soldiers who had bonded with field robots.

“The question is not do we empathize, it’s whether robots can change people’s empathy. If we behave violently toward a robot, is that a healthy outlet or are we training our cruelty responses? We don’t know but we need to address it…they are reflections of our own humanity,” she said.

And what of the threat that robots will take away jobs?

Award winning Roboticist, Filmmaker, and UC Berkeley Engineering Professor Ken Goldberg, said not to worry.

Instead of singularity, the concept in which robots replace humans, he presented an alternative view, multiplicity, the combination of machines and people working together. He noted that airplanes can fly automatically, but that has not lessened the need for pilots. And he said that assembling an iphone requires the work of 600 human hands.

“Google search is being fed information from humans,” he said. “It’s about how we can start to work with machines in new ways.”

But one clear danger presented by artificial intelligence is that of algorithmic bias, said Joy Buolamwini, MIT Researcher and Founder of the Algorithmic Justice League.

Buolamwini said that artificial intelligence is only as good as the data that is inputted, and cited examples where white faces were seen more favorably by machines than faces with color.

How can the situation be avoided? She said to “dare to ask uncomfortable questions, dare to ask intersectional questions, listen to silenced voices, and reduce exclusion overhead.”

In the afternoon of breakout sessions, among the highlights was a dissection of Amazon’s decision to issue an RFP for its second North American headquarters, HQ2, said to be bringing 50,000 jobs to the city that wins it. The process has created frenzy among the 20 finalist cities.

Participating in the panel were John Barros, Chief of Economic Development, City of Boston; Brian Schwagerl, Clinical Assistant Professor of Real Estate Development, NYUSPS Schack Institute of Real Estate; Derek Snyder, Vice Chairman – Office Leasing, Cushman & Wakefield Toronto; Michelle Boggs, Executive Vice President, Business Development, San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, and Seth Martindale, Managing Director, CBRE, Inc. and moderator Morley Driedger, Workplace Strategy, TD Bank,

The debate included a discussion of whether hundreds of millions in tax breaks and incentives were a beneficial part of the process.

“I don’t think that all of this money should go into the hands of a private company, we have to look at these things holistically,” Schwagerl said.

A session late in the day centered on another potentially controversial topic – climate change – with Blair Feltmate, PhD., M.E.A.Sc., M.Sc., Head, Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, University of Waterloo and Daniel Kindbergh, Executive Vice President, Operations, Brookfield Properties.

Feltmate said that while climate change is proven by science, it still takes as much as two disastrous weather events to convince property owners that they need to take action.

“The threat is increasing faster than our ability to deal with it,” he said. “The weather of the past is not the weather of the future.”