How will new wave technology impact us as humans?

Brittany Lee Waller

It is no secret we are steadily moving towards a technologically dependent world, if we aren’t there already. As a species, we are ferociously conceptualising, creating and deploying new ways to do things, but how will this new technology affect our values, our culture and the general way we operate?

Last week at aTEDxSydney breakfast panel event we heard what this might look like along with a teaser as to what we can expect from this year’s conference.

Hosted by Darren Simmons, Managing Director at Acer and moderated by Fenella Kernebone, Head of Curation for TEDxSydney, guests heard from four speakers each addressing the challenges and opportunities towards advancing our society in the era of constant change.

Niraj Lal, one of the ABC’s top 5 scientist under 40 for his research on solar cell nanophotonics and co-host of the Life on the Line series, explored the IOE (Internet of Energy), which refers to distributed energy systems much like the well known Internet of Things. Think the relationship between your fridge, your hair straightener, your tv, but take that to a new level where your electrical devices operate smartly allowing energy to flow efficiently, maximising its potential and reducing energy waste.  

Seventeen year old scientist, inventor and NSW Young Australian of the Year winner as well as past TEDxYouth@Sydney speaker from 2017, Macinley Butson wowed the room with her high level, yet logical thoughts. Macinley is inspired by the past to create for the future and was specifically passionate about the lack of technology in the school system. She presented that school age children should be enabled to pursue passions and skills relevant to the age in which we live. “Coding, tech based projects, science majors, should all be made available to us. The syllabus needs to be less structured around memorising something for one exam and more in-line with a student’s strengths, be it creative or technical”. Essentially, she felt the school system was technologically behind and would like to see simple things improved before jumping too far ahead.

“Up until 5 years ago, I had to tell people I worked in IT, because saying AI or data science was too complicated,” said Fang Chen, Research Group Principal, Researcher in Data61, CSIRO. Fang with a dose of humour and positivity took us into the world of Artificial Intelligence where data is used to inform the production of human centric technology. “AI is the art of mimicking human behaviour as much as possible,’ explained Fang and that we shouldn’t be scared as a society that ‘robots will take over’ but more so allow us to operate more efficiently. At the end of the day, Fang says new wave technology and AI will allows us “to do more intelligent, creative high level jobs”.

Steve Iuliano, Head of Professional Development at The School Locker, took us into the world of education explaining how the school system can use innovations to empower teachers to nurture a generation of technologically dexterous humans. He indicated that in order to advance us as a species, we shouldn’t rely on substitution such as replacing chalkboards with smart boards, but instead adopt technology that ‘solves a problem in the classroom’. Darren Simmons also drove home that if we truly want progress for this new generation then we must enable the “teachers to teach” by equipping them with the knowledge and know-how, not simply packing classrooms ‘with tech they don’t know how to use’.

The event came to a close with a round of panel questions where the group tackled issues like ‘Is AI racist?’ and ‘Where and how do we begin to introduce tech to school starters?” before finishing with an interactive session showcasing the Acer, Windows Mixed Reality headset which was presented by the The School Locker and gave our guests a hands on experience with this innovative new technology.


If this is just a preview of this year’s theme – HumanKind – then there are some seriously powerful ideas to follow. Register your interest and secure your spot for this year’s TEDxSydney.  

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