Toby discusses his early dreams of building thinking machines inspired by science fiction - and covers AI Ethics and current to near term applicability in intelligent systems. Toby Walsh is a leading researcher in Artificial Intelligence. He was recently named in the inaugural Knowledge Nation 100, the one hundred "rock stars" of Australia's digital revolution. He is Guest Professor at TU Berlin, Scientia Professor of Artificial Intelligence at UNSW and leads the Algorithmic Decision Theory group at Data61, Australia's Centre of Excellence for ICT Research. He has been elected a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, and has won the prestigious Humboldt research award as well as the 2016 NSW Premier's Prize for Excellence in Engineering and ICT.
The New South Wales government looks set to allow home owners to rent out spare rooms and entire homes using Airbnb and similar sites but has committed to giving strata corporations greater powers to deal with problems in apartment blocks. The state government on Wednesday released its long-awaited response to last year's parliamentary inquiry into short-term holiday letting, offering "qualified support" to changes that would see the industry regulated in NSW for the first time. It has offered early support for exemptions from planning and development restrictions that would allow the short-term letting of spare rooms and empty properties that do not exceed undefined "impact thresholds". The government will now release a paper canvassing options for regulating the booming sector, prompting a fresh round of consultation. The NSW government has, however, made a firm commitment to give strata corporations greater powers to deal with "adverse behaviour" from properties being used as party houses.
As artificial intelligence continues to creep into everyday life, the Australian government has pledged $29.9 million over four years to enhance local AI capabilities. Treasurer Scott Morrison announced in Tuesday night's budget that "research in artificial intelligence" was to be included as part of the Government's $2.4 billion investment into Australia's science and technology capacity. The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science will receive the bulk of the funding ($26 million), alongside the CSIRO ($2.3 million) and the Department of Education and Training ($1.5 million). "This measure will support Cooperative Research Centre projects, PhD scholarships and school-related learning to increase knowledge and develop the skills needed for AI and machine learning," the budget papers state. Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of New South Wales and ACS AI Ethics Committee Member, Professor Toby Walsh, welcomed the funding, but questioned whether it was enough to poise Australia as a global leader in the field.
Victoria has become the first Australian state to set up a special group specifically to study the social and economic impacts of artificial intelligence (AI). The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Artificial Intelligence appears to be modelled on a UK version set up last year that has already examined the impact of machine learning on human jobs. The all-party group, announced in Melbourne on Wednesday by state Minister for Innovation Philip Dalidakis and opposition leader David Southwick, includes MPs across the political spectrum. The Victorian Parliament paired with Committee for Melbourne and RMIT University for the announcement in front of Parliament House, with Dalidakis tweeting that "It is up to all us [sic] in the public & private sector to embrace the opportunity [and] not be fearful of it [AI]." Federal parliamentarians Bridget McKenzie and Ed Husic said late last year that Australia needs to have a diplomatic discussion about the potential impact of advanced AI and the boundaries that need to be established to ensure it is used for good.