2970° The Boiling Point

KEYNOTE #1

Kyle Slabb works at the collision point of two cultures championing creativity as well as pragmatism as a way to reframe and build solutions for going forward in modern, multicultural communities. With ancestral ties crossing Gudjinburra, Bundjalung and Yugambeh, Kyle credits Indigenous cultural frameworks and intelligences as being at the heart of his successful initiatives, business and practice, and believes that art has always been the voice of Aboriginal people.

Kyle Slabb’s keynote introduced the practice of keeping and disseminating knowledge through an indigenous system which is shaped by the concept of ‘gogawn’ (the senior figure) and ‘banaam’ (a support person) and how these roles can be interchangeable depending on the skill or expertise in question. Kyle explained that nothing in the Aboriginal universe exists in isolation hence his contention that individuality is highly problematic. Kyle detailed a circular system of relationships as a societal structure, where no one person holds all the knowledge rendering the conventional hierarchical models redundant.

Proposition: 
The elimination of all hierarchy in society

RESPONDENTS

Yasmin Khan, Queensland Australian of the Year 2017
Yasmin responded by declaring that the elephant in the room is racism. Systemic racism closes us off from so much knowledge and so many worthwhile ideas. If we listen to other cultures and examine their knowledge, we can learn so much and, by so doing, enrich our lives. We need to interrogate the indigenous-non-indigenous dynamic. This interrogation can inform how one gets one’s voice heard if one is at the bottom of the pyramid.

Philip Follent, Architect
Philip responded with the conviction that good intent exists in our democratic system just as it does in the cultural system Kyle described. However, even though we have numerous checks and balances, our system still seems to fail. Maybe it is time to throw out some aspects of our system. Where to start? We must be respectful, patient and connected to a sense of place. Trust is fundamental. Trust in other people to hold knowledge and make decisions. But this doesn’t exist in our society. And perhaps what we need to throw out should be guided by what we feel compromises Trust.

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KEYNOTE #2

Van Badham is a Melbourne-based feminist writer, theatre-maker, critic, trade unionist, activist, occasional broadcaster and one of Australia’s most controversial public intellectuals. Van is a political columnist and culture critic for The Guardian Australia and is Vice-President of MEAA Victoria as well as being the award-winning writer of more than 30 internationally produced plays for stage, music theatre and radio. Van was a last-minute replacement for Jamila Rizvi. 

Van Badham’s keynote focused on the importance of worker’s rights and the crucial role that gainful employment plays in sustaining self-esteem and purpose. She called upon society to build the jobs that can enfranchise everyone. She determined that work liberates us and championed the right for people to decide what their productive relationships should look like, encouraging people to see the immense value of unions as democratic organisations. Van argued that society benefits greatly when people have the right to organise.

Proposition:
 The right for workers to organise and exercise industrial power.

RESPONDENTS

Mara Bun, Chair, Gold Coast Waterways Authority
Mara responded by describing a global perspective drawing upon her many interests in new and innovative means of change-making and technologies especially in relation to models of deliberative democracy. She talked to a trajectory in the concept of programming as in programming machines, programming society, programming citizens. Mara broached the idea that, investigating possibilities for work could positively re-frame how we envision a distributive future as global citizens.

Leila Gurruwiwi Cultural Awareness Advocate and Mentor
Leila responded by talking to the roles and jobs for indigenous people in Australia expressing the need for a broader understanding and respect for indigenous knowledge and practices with particular reference to land care and environmental stewardship. Leila suggested a paradigm of planet-preserving instead of planet-killing, but also concurred with Van on points regarding to purpose, self-respect and equality for all. 

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KEYNOTE #3

Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro is one of the world’s foremost experts on robots and androids. He is Professor of Department of Systems Innovation in the Graduate School of Engineering Science at Osaka University and Distinguished Professor of Osaka University He is also visiting Director of Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories at the Advanced Telecommunications Research (ATR) Institute and an ATR fellow. His research interests include sensor networks, interactive robotics, and android science.

Professor Ishiguro began his keynote by taking delegates through the evolution of robotic technology and its myriad applications in today’s society. He announced his formula - Modern Humans = Animal + Technology - proposing we are 80% technology and 20% human. Ishiguro’s contention is that humanoid robots are a way to understand humans and also a way to communicate with humans in unassuming situations such as providing intimate emotional and intellectual contact, with, for example, sufferers of Alzheimer’s Disease. Ishiguro suggested that our purpose as humans is to come up with the perfect analogy of ourselves. He believes robots are our inevitable future and that as technology advances, the line between human and robot will become increasingly blurred.

Proposition: 
A commitment by our society to the resources necessary to achieve consciousness in Artificial Intelligence

RESPONDENTS

Nikos Papastergiadis, Director, Research Unit in Public Cultures, Melbourne University
Nikos responded by taking delegates on a deeply poetic, almost spiritual journey with an inspired meditation on the relationship between humanity and the cosmos. Through this, he focussed the collective mind of the delegation on the existential dimension of Artificial Intelligence which provided a philosophical re-calibration of Ishiguro’s scientific presentation.

Robyn Archer, Singer, Writer, Director, Arts Advocate

Robyn responded with a direct and systematic rebuttal of Ishiguro’s provocation. She did this by developing a narrative of inquiry around the fragility of human beings despite our intelligence, questioning the lack of preparation for a future life with robots and asking whether the use of free time created by the advent of Artificial Intelligence in our daily lives will mean people actually take up their responsibilities in our democracy. Robyn was productively critical of Ishiguro’s most seductive propositions, providing a social balance to the irresistibility of his science.

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KEYNOTE #4

Julian Assange is the world’s first true internet radical; a publisher and activist who used the internet to transform the relationship between the weak and the powerful. He is the face of WikiLeaks, famous for releasing secret information of corrupt governments, unaccountable corporations, and occupying militaries. 

Julian Assange’s keynote delved into the world of big data and critiqued organisations he views as dangerous and not in control of the Artificial Intelligence systems they are developing. He neatly folded many of the arguments for and against Artificial Intelligence that had been developed at the Roundtables following Ishiguro’s Keynote. Whilst noting climate change is an enormously important issue, Assange put forward the idea that the exponential and invisible growth of data and artificial intelligence is a bigger threat because of our inability to understand it and read its tipping point. He argued climate change was an issue we could see and act upon whereas the computational capacity of organisations like Google and state agencies like the CIA are literally beyond human comprehension, and so we are operating in an ‘illusory fog’.

Proposition:
 That no state shall increase its computational capacity beyond the 2016 levels of the United States until it can be shown that such increases in capacity do not pose an existential threat to human civilisation.

RESPONDENTS

Due to the twilight scheduling of Julian Assange’s Keynote, the Curator moderated responses from the floor in the form of a Q and A. At the conclusion of the transmission, a vote was called.

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