Toby Walsh on AI Ethics and Technology at the Sydney Writers’ Festival

From using ChatGPT for emails to enjoying personalised playlists on Spotify, AI has seamlessly integrated into our routines. However, we rarely consider it’s implications in darker parts of life, like warfare. Exploring AI ethics, expert Toby Walsh appeared on 2SER Breakfast before his Sydney Writers’ Festival sessions.

“We’re seeing AI identifying the targets that are being attacked in Gaza, and perhaps not doing it as accurately as precisely as humans would.”

Toby Walsh, a distinguished AI author and Chief Scientist at the University of New South Wales’ new AI Institute, shared his insights on the growing public interest in AI.

“It’s slowly crept into our lives it often quite invisibly,” Dr Walsh said. “But for most people, I think it was just over a year ago, when ChatGPT came out, that it really caught people’s imaginations.”

He emphasised the importance of engaging with these complex topics, particularly for everyday Sydney residents. 

“It’s going to disrupt our work. (…) Some disruptions are good and some disruption is going to be bad.”

Outside everyday use, Walsh discussed AI’s role in modern warfare, from drones to darker tech. 

“I spoke at the United Nations about how when technology gets picked up and used by the military, we have to be very careful.”

Walsh discussed the ethical considerations of AI and offered practical advice for individuals to ensure the healthy use of AI in their daily lives. 

“We need to vote with our feet where companies are behaving well. We need to reward them with our services,” said Dr Walsh. “Where a company’s behaving badly, not treating our data very well, then we need to walk away from those services.”

Toby Walsh will be featured in two Sydney Writers’ Festival sessions. Catch him at the Great Debate at Sydney Town Hall on Thursday, May 23rd, and in a Dark Technologies at Carriageworks session on Sunday, May 26th. Tickets for these sessions and more are available on the Sydney Writers’ Festival website. 

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