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BGS Business Breakfast: is AI a friend or foe?
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Striking a balance between harnessing the opportunities of artificial intelligence while safeguarding against its risks made for fascinating conversation at last Wednesday's BGS Business Breakfast. 

Over coffee and scrambled eggs at The Grove Rooftop, a panel of three thought leaders shared their experiences on how AI is proving to be both a friend and foe in a major shakeup of how different industries are doing business. 

The panel discussed the new capabilities in data analysis, healthcare diagnosis and boost to productivity, while pointing out issues with discrimination, copyright laws, and data privacy and security.   

The sold-out event saw the audience ask questions about where to start in terms of embracing AI in business, about job displacement and fears of limitations for those less technologically minded.  

“The genie is out of the bottle, so we need to fall in love with the problem.” 

That was the advice from BGS parent Susannah Wilkinson who is the Regional Head of Emergency Technology (APAC) at Herbert Smith Freehills.  

“I think what we will see, particularly in the legal context, is lawyers who can use AI will become better lawyers than those who can’t. 

“But I don’t see it as a binary, all or nothing, as in this job will go.” 

She explained how an over reliance on generative AI tools has led to examples of fictious case names being used in court proceedings as she stressed the importance of having checks and balances in place.  

“It is not an information or truth tool; it is a pattern tool that is mimicking human behaviours. 

“Once you understand how the tool works, you can start to use it in a more sensible way.” 

When Tim Miller, Professor of AI at the University of Queensland, was asked what AI means in terms of student assessment, he said: 

“Trying to prevent people from using Chat GPT is a silly idea because it’s not going to work.  

“If we think about the way software engineers are working, they’re using it to generate snippets of code for themselves.  

“So, we should be training students to use these tools.” 

He said people still need to possess the foundational skills of their profession to distinguish when AI is hallucinating and making mistakes. 

“Look at your existing workflow and look where you can put in a small tool in to help someone, but don’t think it is going to solve all your problems.” 

Professor School of Medicine at the University of Sydney and University of Notre Dame Geoff Strange is optimistic about “using AI for good” in the medical profession.  

In a recent study looking into the diagnosis of aortic valve disease, he said AI “changed the face of diagnosis within that particular disease” because it removed human bias.  

“In the medical profession, we have fairly structured and curated databases that have been informed by humans – we aren’t relying on the generic internet to determine these decisions to support algorithms.  

“So, the application of that really takes away bias when it comes to symptoms, bias when it comes to human dynamics and bias when it comes to gender.” 

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