That’s a Wrap!

Reflections on the 2023 Data & AI for Business Conference and Exhibition

Photo Caption (L-R): SJ Price, Professor Peter Klinken, Professor Toby Walsh and Adam Spencer.

Reflections on the 2023 Data & AI for Business Conference and Exhibition

The 2023 WADSIH conference was more than just an event—it was a window into the vibrant tech landscape of Western Australia, painting a vivid picture of where we are and the horizon of possibilities AI will bring.

Hon Stephen Dawson opened the Conference by highlighting the growth trajectory that WA is currently on. With an emphasis on our readiness to harness this growth, the stage was set for an exciting two day conference.

In his speech, WA Chief Scientist, Prof. Peter Klinken, animatedly urged attendees to “ride this tsunami of change,” while acknowledging the incredible opportunities available within the state. However gave a poignant reminder about the digital divide and stressed that we must ensure none are left behind in this revolution due to socio-economic disparities.

AI advancing at a rapid rate

The fast-paced evolution of AI was detailed by Director of WADSIH, Alex Jenkins, who gave a voice imitation software example, saying there had already been a 200x improvement on the tech in a few short months.

From AI’s capability to craft breathtaking images in merely two years to its potential in reshaping various sectors—from online shopping to medical research—the scope is immense. 

His comment on looking back and finding our current one-teacher-per-classroom setup “crazy” encapsulates the profound changes we can anticipate in education, where he anticipates there will soon be an AI tutor for every child.

The potential of AI

During an upbeat panel moderated by keynote speaker and maths whizz Adam Spencer, various applications of AI emerged. Schellie-Jayne Price, lawyer at Stirling & Rose, shared how AI can now predict locations of electricity pole top fires, enabling timely maintenance. Adam pointed to its use in Sydney, where AI helps schedule preventative maintenance for water pipes.

Chief Scientist at the University of NSW’s AI Institute, Toby Walsh, brought forth some thought-provoking insights, including the potential for in utero gene maps that can predict a child’s future height and even susceptibility to certain diseases. 

However, it was his comments on AI’s future impacts – both exciting and concerning – that struck a chord. “I fear what we’re going to see when AI is weaponised, during politics,” he mentioned, alluding to the potential for false information to proliferate even further than today’s challenges with social media.

The rise in misinformation

Adam’s keynote talk was humorous yet insightful. Starting with a light-hearted story of an incident with Santa, he quickly transitioned into AI’s meteoric rise. 

He pointed out how DeepMind’s AI, after playing just 4.9 million games of chess over four hours, surpassed the prowess of the world’s best chess computers. 

However, despite this and other advancements like AI in surgery and sport refereeing, Spencer warned of the dangers. Echoing Toby’s earlier views, Adam said AI can lead to misinformation, particularly in US politics, and that he had concerns about human capability to detect AI content. He finished by urging the audience to envision a grander scale for AI, one that could change education, sports, and even arts.

AI in space

Dr Newton Campbell, from AROSE (Australia’s Remote Operations for Space and Earth), spoke of the collaboration between NASA and Australia, with AROSE at its helm, and how it is looking to deploy a lunar rover on the moon. 

Dr Newton detailed how AI enhances the capabilities of remote operators, offering situational awareness and ensuring general wellbeing. AI’s adoption in these missions requires a nuanced understanding and strategic rollout, and Dr. Newton offered insights into achieving this.

Maths at the root of AI advancement

On Day Two of the Conference, data scientist and TV personality, Lily Serna, reflected on the rapid advancement of the world, emphasising the influence of AI and the divergent opinions accelerated by social media. 

Lily believes that to find solutions to current world problems, we must turn to the universal language of mathematics. It’s the bridge that can connect diverse thoughts, cultures, and generations.

Putting AI into practise

Rimma Shafikova, from Virtual Gaming Worlds, spoke about how while AI might appear intelligent, it has its limitations. She demonstrated that while ChatGPT can analyse vast data sets, it also has blind spots.

Jonathan Neo from Canva spotlighted how the company uses data for various business applications and the challenges they’ve faced in scaling their data operations.

Grant Dusting provided a sociological perspective on AI, emphasising understanding data before drawing conclusions and the importance of effective storytelling.

Justin Strharsky, from spoke about the challenges in hiring data scientists and stressed the need for them to focus on impactful work rather than administrative tasks.

Finishing on a high

The Conference wrapped up at the end of Day Two with a panel moderated by Tina Ambrose from WiTWA, and featuring Ivana Deng, Senior Policy Writer for State Government, Gerard McCarthy from Pioneer Credit, Vanessa Robinson from AFG, and Dr Leah Riungu-Kalliosaari who is a Project Coordinator at the Curtin Institute for Data Science. 

The panel discussed the positive impact of data and AI across industry, government and academia, which was a great way to end the Conference on a high.

Following feedback from many happy attendees, we are deeming the 2023 Data & AI for Business Conference and Exhibition a success and we look forward to seeing everyone next year!

View Official Photos Here

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