Three new industry heavyweights have signed on to support the Australian National University's Autonomy, Agency and Assurance Institute (3Ai) and its mission to evolve new ways of thinking about and teaching artificial intelligence. KPMG, Macquarie Group and Microsoft will now join the CSIRO's Data61 in partnering with the institute, which is led by former Intel executive and recent high profile CBA board appointee professor Genevieve Bell. Bell said 3Ai was established in September last year to tackle complex problems emerging around artificial intelligence, big data, technology and their impacts on humanity. The announcement coincides with the Labor National Conference, where the party is expected to announce a greater focus on the ethical impacts of growth and development, especially in regards to technology. It also follows the Australian Human Rights Commission's release of an issues paper at its Human Rights and Technology conference in Sydney earlier this, at which Bell spoke.
Risk practice in the federal government is inconsistent and sometimes rudimentary, resulting in the limiting of innovation across the Australian public sector, according to CSIRO chair David Thodey. Reimagining business for the digital age is the number-one priority for many of today's top executives. We offer practical advice and examples of how to do it right. "There is an obsession with downside risk and little evidence that upside or shared risks are considered," he said, addressing the CPA Congress in Canberra on Thursday. "This limits innovation and constrains good leaders and employees from getting things done.
David Thodey, chairman of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the former CEO of Australia's incumbent telecommunications provider Telstra, has reflected on his tenure of transformation at the telco, and urged business leaders to change or risk becoming irrelevant. "When I became CEO of Telstra it was a turbulent time in Australia," he said. "Nobody liked Telstra, I didn't get invited to any lunches, nobody would even talk to me, and there were cartoons about me being wrapped in copper, being beaten up by Canberra politicians." It was an interesting time at Telstra, Thodey said, that required the organisation to take a long, hard look at itself and think about what it stood for as a company. "We ended up having a good result over five to six years but it was tough," he explained.
If you think large corporations get involved in the startup space in an effort to latch onto the next Facebook, Tesla, or Alibaba, then think again, at least in the case of Australia's incumbent telco. According to Telstra's former CEO David Thodey, the communications giant set up its Muru-D accelerator to drive change within the parent company. "People think we were trying to find the next great new thing, it wasn't, it was all about the cultural change," Thodey said in a wide-ranging speech at the Hitachi Social Innovation Forum in Sydney last week. "We got young, entrepreneurial startups coming in with great ideas -- we'd put our engineers with them, and next thing we knew we had great ideas everywhere -- so it was more cultural." Due to the roll out of the National Broadband Network across Australia, it has been estimated that Telstra has an earnings gap of between AU$2 billion to AU$3 billion annually.
Cybersecurity is high on the list of many executive boards, according to CSIRO and JobsNSW chair David Thodey, who believes a key solution to combating the problem is for startups and enterprises to collaborate. "Enterprises are struggling to keep up with this topic. We're all in the same boat, and so we don't have an option but to collaborate," he said. Speaking at the National Fintech Cyber Security Summit in Sydney on Tuesday, Thodey said cybersecurity is a whole-of-industry problem that needs to be solved; otherwise, the price companies will have to pay may be detrimental. Look at what happens when a network goes down: You could lose everything good you've done, and if you're a small startup your reputation is just as important as a big corporation, so this is really important," he said.