Royal Society of NSW News & Events

Royal Society of NSW News & Events

1314th OGM and Open Lecture

Catherine Ball and Maria MacNamara “Convergence: the hybridisation
 of the future”

In conversation:

Associate Professor Catherine Ball
  Futurist, Author, Researcher, Rebel


Maria MacNamara
  Director, Government Affairs and
  Innovation Strategy, Kyndryl

Date: Wednesday, 2 August 2023, 6.30—8.00 pm AEST 
Venue: Gallery Room, State Library of NSW, Shakespeare Place, Sydney
Video presentation: YouTube video
All are welcome

Summary: Convergent technologies are accelerating business model evolution, and also changing our tolerance and social licence around them. How can we accept technologies we don’t understand? Is there trust when it comes to taking these hardware and software into our homes? Would you let your children have an implantable device, or even offer up your genome as proof of ID?

As the world mixes the human and the technological, we are entering Industry 5.0- the Internet of Things has become the Internet of Bodies. How much privacy are we willing to hand over in order to protect the cyber security of life as usual? All these questions have been around for some time, but they have never been so pressing.

With the rise and rise of Generative AI, the scaling of technology seems to have caught some by surprise: including our regulators and governance leaders. Associate Professor Catherine Ball PhD DSc will aim to open some of Pandora’s box and demystify where we are and what future we are looking at. Ultimately we still have consent. We can still turn it all off. Can’t we?

About the Speakers

An Associate Professor in the practice of engineering at the Australian National University Dr Catherine Ball is a scientific futurist, speaker, advisor, author, founder, executive producer, executive director, and company director working across global projects where emerging technologies meet humanitarian, education, and environmental needs. Catherine also likes to create businesses and champion movements, collaborate with peers, and advise game-changers.

Catherine Ball is a sought-after voice across the start-up, futurist, and tech world, working globally across a wide range of projects from creating documentaries and world-leading conferences and events, to advising on the use of novel approaches (e.g., drones) across environmental and humanitarian projects. She is a proponent of community engagement with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), and seeks to demystify emerging tech.

As a ‘social architect’ and a champion of diversity and inclusion, Catherine Ball aims to connect people from different backgrounds across common themes. Working to protect the natural environment and empowering all members of society through mutual education are core aspects of the projects on which Catherine chooses to spend her time and energy.

Catherine continues to support Australia as being the world leader in the advancement of ethically driven technological applications. Industry 5.0 is emerging, with society and community at the heart of how we operate and curate emerging trends and capabilities. Catherine lives in Queensland with her husband and two sons.  She holds a BSc Honours (Environmental Protection) and a PhD (Spatial Ecology, Descriptive and Predictive Statistics) from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the United Kingdom.

Maria MacNamara has specialist expertise in policy, strategy, and digital transformation. She recently completed a transformation of Australia’s global diaspora organisation,, and is currently the Director of Government Affairs and Innovation Strategy at Kyndryl. Maria is an Industry and Professional Fellow at UTS, chairs the strategy board for the ARC Training Centre for Information Resilience (CIRES), and is a member of the Business School’s Board of Advice at the University of Sydney. She is a Non-Executive Director of Portal Ideas, the Spark Festival, and sits on the Advisory Boards of the AUKUS Forum, IdeaSpies, and Zitavi. Maria recently retired from the Advisory Board of Internet 2.0 and the Advisory Council for the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police.

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