Power and Peril of the Digital Age image

 

POWER AND PERIL OF THE DIGITAL AGE

Dates: Thursday and Friday, 4–5 November 2021, 9.00 am–12.30 pm AEDT
Venue: Live-streamed and now on YouTube
Brochure: The brochure is available in two forms:
(a) an abridged document (pdf: 5.8 MB) providing just the program, and
(b) a complete document (pdf: 6.2 MB) providing the program, abstracts, and speaker biographies.

On this page:

Overview

We are at a moment in time when we must acknowledge and address the inevitably rising tide of data use and digital services. History will categorize the early decades of the 21st Century as the digital age, the age of prodigious development and use of digital technologies that enable us to transfer and access information easily and swiftly.

So much so that digital interaction is a defining characteristic of modern human life. Societies, economies, and political processes are infused and connected by the ubiquitous use of smart machines and software that process and communicate information to us in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

The pace of digitisation was already fast by the end of 2019 before COVID-19 emerged. The pandemic broke through cultural barriers and enabled implementation of digital strategies in a matter of days or weeks rather than years. Digital technologies are central to dealing with the pandemic itself, as well as being the primary driver of productivity in almost every other aspect of society.

Almost all companies, governments and organisations across the world are increasingly taking advantage of the benefits associated with data analytics, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things to solve problems never solved before, to undertake projects in five days that would have taken five years — problems such as those embodied in the United Nations General Assembly’s Sustainable Development Goals and their achievement by 2030. Tangible benefits include greater social connectivity, learning opportunities, information storage, versatile working and transport, and greater access to entertainment, news, banking and finance.

Unlocking the power of the digital age also brings peril, associated with concerns about data security, state-based and transnational crime, and terrorism, complexity, privacy, social disconnection, media manipulation, manipulation of the truth, communities left behind, national defence and market vulnerabilities, outstripping rule-making and regulatory structures.

This year, the Royal Society of NSW in partnership with the Learned Academies - Health and Medicine, Humanities, Science, Social Sciences, and Technology and Engineering, has chosen “Power and Peril of the Digital Age” as the theme for its annual Forum.

Our goal is to have a grown-up conversation about digitisation and the use of data. It will be framed around the future life of a child born on the first day of the Forum, 4 November 2021. This child will be born into a world of increasingly complex digital systems that hold great value and vulnerability.

Starting with a technological framing, the Forum will explore several major aspects which will impact the journey of that child as we approach 2030 and beyond. We will explore aspects of technology, health, defence, and security in a digital age, and the changing nature of industry as the world and society evolves.

Finally, our annual Forum will be a call to arms for the host Societies to focus on challenges identified during the day that must be addressed for Australia to remain a prosperous, successful, and safe democracy in the digital world.

The Royal Society of NSW acknowledges the generous support of Her Excellency, the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of NSW, the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, and the NSW Smart Sensing Network.

Program and Presentations

1.0: Day 1 — Welcome and Official Opening
 
Welcome and Acknowledgement of Country
Susan Pond AM FRSN FTSE FAHMS
President, Royal Society of NSW

Official Opening
Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC
Governor of New South Wales

Moderator and Rapporteur
Ian Oppermann FRSN FTSE
Chief Data Scientist, NSW Government
Industry Professor, University of Technology Sydney

1.1 Science and Technology underpinning the Digital Age:
Past, Present, and Future

 
Cathy Foley AO PSM FRSN FAA FTSE
Australia's Chief Scientist
Australian Government

Hugh Durrant-Whyte FRS FREng FAA FTSE
NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer
NSW Government

Panel and Q&A

1.2 Digital Lifetime of a Child Born Today
 
Frances Foster Thorpe
Executive Director, Shaping Futures
NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet

Sue Bennett
Professor, Deputy Director and Connected Child Co-Leader, ARC Centre of Excellence for the Digital Child
University of Wollongong

Panel and Q&A

1.3 Avoiding a Digital Dark Age
 
Shawn Ross
Director, Digitally-Enabled Research (Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)) and Professor of History and Archeology Macquarie University

Theresa K D Anderson
Social Informaticist, Connecting Stones Consulting and Research Fellow, School of Information Sciences
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Panel and Q&A

1.4 Health of our Digital Child
 
Zoran Bolevich
Chief Executive, eHealth NSW
Chief Information Officer, NSW Health

Louisa Jorm FAHMS
Professor, Faculty of Medicine and Foundation Director, Centre for Big Data Research in Health
UNSW (Sydney)

Panel and Q&A

1.5 Safety and Security of our Digital Child
 
Dale Lambert PSM FTSE
Chief, Cyber and Electronic Warfare Division
Defence Science and Technology Group
Australian Government Department of Defence

Rory Medcalf
Professor and Head, National Security College
Crawford School of Public Policy
Australian National University

Panel and Q&A

1.6 Setting up for Day 2, including the Challenges
 
Ian Oppermann FRSN FTSE (Moderator and Rapporteur)
Chief Data Scientist, NSW Government
Industry Professor, University of Technology Sydney

 
2.0: Day 2 —Welcome and Recap of Day 1
 
Welcome and Acknowledgement of Country
Susan Pond AM FRSN FTSE FAHMS
President, Royal Society of NSW

Recap of Day 1 (Moderator and Rapporteur)
Ian Oppermann FRSN FTSE
Chief Data Scientist, NSW Government
Industry Professor, University of Technology Sydney

2.1 The Light and Shade of Technology on our Digital Child
 
Ian Oppermann FRSN FTSE (Moderator and Rapporteur)
Chief Data Scientist, NSW Government
Industry Professor, University of Technology Sydney

Edward Santow
Industry Professor, University of Technology Sydney
(Former) Australian Human Rights Commissioner

The Honourable Verity Firth
Executive Director, Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion University of Technology Sydney

Marc Fennell
Journalist, Interviewer, and Maker of Things

Aengus Tran
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Harrison.ai

Panel and Q&A

2.2 Address by NSW Government Minister
 
The Hon. Victor Dominello MP
Minister for Digital and Minister for Customer Service, Government of NSW
Member for Ryde, Parliament of NSW

2.3 Securing the Future of our Digital Child
 
Ian Oppermann FRSN FTSE (Moderator and Rapporteur)
Chief Data Scientist, NSW Government
Industry Professor, University of Technology Sydney

Robert Hillard
Managing Partner
Deloitte Consulting Asia Pacific

Angie Abdilla
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Old Ways, New Australia
Professor of Practice, Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design, UNSW (Sydney)

Toby Walsh FRSN FAA
Laureate Fellow and Scientia Professor of Artificial Intelligence
UNSW (Sydney)

David Pryor
Senior Team Leader, Energy Security Safeguard
NSW Department of Planning, Industry, and Environment

Panel and Q&A

2.4 Future Australia
Short Statements from Learned Academy Representatives
Ian Oppermann FRSN FTSE (Moderator and Rapporteur)
Chief Data Scientist, NSW Government
Industry Professor, University of Technology Sydney

Tony Cunningham AO FAHMS
Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences

Richard Waterhouse FAHA FASSA
Australian Academy of Humanities

Toby Walsh FRSN FAA
Australian Academy of Science

Deborah Lupton FASSA
Australian Academy of Social Sciences

Annabelle Duncan PSM FRSN FTSE
Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering

Panel and Q&A

2.5 Wrap-up and Close
 
Ian Oppermann FRSN FTSE (Moderator and Rapporteur)
Chief Data Scientist, NSW Government
Industry Professor, University of Technology Sydney

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