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Business Hunter summit to discuss all things AI

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Artificial intelligence (AI)… is it a friend or foe?

All will be revealed at the special Business Hunter Summit 2023 at Newcastle City Hall on Thursday 29 June.

The event brings together leading voices on AI in Australia, including Microsoft, Commbank, the Australian Human Rights Commissioner, AI researchers and the world-first Responsible AI Network led by the CSIRO.

It follows a recent poll, which declared almost one-in-five businesses are completely unreceptive to the use of artificial intelligence, scoring 0 out of 10 on their level of willingness to adopt to it.

Led by Business NSW in partnership with Business Hunter, the Business Conditions Survey (BCS) also unveiled 17% of those enterprises were on the fence, versus 8% who would readily embrace AI.

“Drawing on our experiences of crossing multiple other technology thresholds in recent decades, the prospect can be quite daunting, and a broad range of emotive and practical responses is to be expected,” CEO Bob Hawes said.

“People were highly-sceptical of the telephone when it was first introduced.

“Now, we’re all carrying powerful mini-computers in our pockets.”

Mr Hawes said the summit was designed to explore all perspectives of AI, including the opportunities, challenges and fears it’s throwing up for business.

“While AI has enormous social and economic benefits for all Australians, and we’re seeing direct examples of this through our members, there are challenges to overcome, chief concerns being the absence of guardrails and the threat of workers and businesses being left behind,” he explained.

“We know the issue of AI risk and regulation is a priority for the Australian Government, with two AI consultation papers currently open for discussion.

“We expect they’ll get a mention as part of proceedings.

“The abrupt arrival of mainstream generative AI this year has certainly been a shock to the system, and created anxiety for some businesses, while others are already leveraging it in fantastic and unexpected ways.”

That includes one of the region’s businesses, Modus Brewery.

An East Coast IPA, named Neural Network, was produced off an AI prompt to “create the world’s best beer”.

Scouring tens of thousands of reviews, the technology produced a recipe, named the product and generated the packaging.

Modus Brewery founder Grant Wearin said AI had augmented, rather than replaced, human roles in this example.

“AI was an incredibly powerful tool for research and development,” he stated.

“But, it can’t replace the nuances of human brewers, who spend years learning the intricacies of brewing and use taste and smell as integral to their role.”

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