Prof. Toby Walsh

Scientia Professor of Artificial Intelligence, University of New South Wales

Prof. Toby Walsh

Toby Walsh is Scientia Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of New South Wales and Data61. He was named by the Australian newspaper as one of the "rock stars" of Australia's digital revolution.

Professor Walsh is a strong advocate for limits to ensure AI is used to improve our lives. He has been a leading voice in the discussion about autonomous weapons (aka "killer robots"), speaking at the UN in New York and Geneva on the topic. He is a Fellow of the Australia Academy of Science and recipient of the NSW Premier's Prize for Excellence in Engineering and ICT.

He appears regularly on TV and radio, and has authored two books on AI for a general audience, the most recent entitled "2062: The World that AI Made".

It’s hard to open a newspaper today without reading multiple success stories about AI taking on new tasks in our lives: computers that can play the ancient Chinese game of Go better than any human; computers that can read X-rays faster, cheaper and more accurately than any human doctor; and computers that can translate Mandarin into English completely automatically. In this talk, I will explore what are the reasons behind this success and where is it taking us.

AI won’t eliminate all jobs. And robots won’t be taking over the planet despite what Hollywood would have you believe. But it will profoundly change our lives and in ways that, if we’re careful in our choices, offer the potential to lift the well being of all of us. AI will be found in our homes, our offices, our cars (supposing we still own our own cars), and many of our public spaces.  Indeed, AI will likely be the operating system of the future. 

All our devices will be connected, from the front door to the toaster, and you’ll communicate with them via voice. In fact, you’ll have to use voice as many of these devices won’t have screens or keyboards. What sort of world will this create? And how will it impact on important aspects of our lives like  privacy and human relationships? 

Key Takeaways:

  • AI is already an invisible part of our lives, powering everything from your sat nav to your smart phone.
  • The future will supercharge this but not overnight - AI is still very brittle and has a long way to go in some areas.
  • When it does, it will have a profound impact on our relationship with our surroundings and with each other.

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