Wonder in age of AI: what is our (human) place in future?

Supercomputer that processes big data

With artificial intelligence promising to profoundly change our lives and disrupt the world as we know it, the focus of Swinburne’s Chancellor’s Lecture this year will be: ‘Wonder in the age of AI: What is our (human) place in the future?’.

The discussion will take place on August 8, and offer an opportunity for Swinburne experts to discuss the impact of emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning and autonomous systems, and to connect with thought leaders in the field.

Director of the 3A Institute, Florence Violet McKenzie Chair and Distinguished Professor at the Australian National University, Professor Genevieve Bell, will deliver the keynote address.

Swinburne is unique in that artificial intelligence and other developments connected to the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, are considered across the university. In fact, Swinburne is the only Australian university to have a whole-of-institution Industry 4.0 strategy.

“We are actively working across disciplines to embed AI capability in law tech, FinTech, digital health and social data analytics domains, to drive both social and economic impact through our cutting edge research,” says Swinburne’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Development), Professor Aleksandar Subic.

“Through industry partnerships, Swinburne has established the Wipro Chair in AI, the Cloud Innovation Centre with Amazon Web Services, and a Key Lab in Intelligent Data Analytics.”

Looking to an AI-enabled future

Swinburne’s Wipro Chair of Artificial Intelligence and Head of the AI and Intelligent Agent Technology research group, Professor Ryszard Kowalczyk, is leading effeorts to translate AI research into practical applications.

“As our future becomes AI-enabled, it’s vital to understand the risks, benefits, limitations and potential of AI. We’re collaborating with industry partners to research and develop AI solutions that address their needs and deliver value to them and their customersm,” Professor Kowalczyk says.

“For example, we have developed a new AI solution to minimise the cost of the cloud to the users, and are researching how AI can help in making cloud migration decisions. We’re also looking at how AI can be incorporated to develop a ‘one stop shop’ platform for customers across different industry sectors.”

Impacting industry

The application of AI will have implications on almost every industry, including the legal profession.

Swinburne’s Dean of Law, Professor Dan Hunter says that machine learning systems are already involved in large-scale mergers and acquisitions work, in litigation and will “take over a significant chunk of lawyers’ work by the end of the 2020s.”

“In a few seconds, AI can do research that would take a human lawyer weeks to do. AI can already take all the publicly available information on sentencing and bail decisions to essentially predict the outcomes on future decisions by looking at bias and patterns,” Professor Hunter says.

“This isn’t going to replace a judge. It’s merely supporting lawyers in the laborious tasks of contract review, legal research, paperwork.”

Data science is integral

According to Swinburne’s Data Science Research Institute Director, Professor Timos Sellis, this ‘data science’ is an absolute requirement for the successful development and application of AI.

“Swinburne has an interest in working with data science responsibly, and this means addressing both the technical and societal/ethical issues in emerging data-driven technologies.

“There is a pressing need to integrate algorithmic and statistical principles, social science theories, and basic humanist concepts so that data science and artificial intelligence can serve their role best.”

Speaking ahead of her speech, Professor Bell says: “Artificial intelligence is transforming the way we live, work, communicate and travel. It promises to revolutionise our lives, shape a new future and disrupt the world as we know it. But can we truly imagine all the ways that these emerging technologies will alter the human experience?”

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