One of the highlights of Techweek 2018 was the Creative Realities event in Wellington. With the help of the organisers, we were able to support 3 students to attend. Here’s some highlights shared by Maia:
Wellington’s TechWeek’18 was an exciting week full of events that ran the gamut in topics all related to how technology was being used to enhance life in New Zealand. The week culminated in the Creative Realities conference, which was an exploration of the intersection between technology and creativity.
The event opened with an artistic interpretation of technology: “paint” created by two musicians was projected onto the screen, which digital artist Digl then manipulated through the motion of a tablet.
Next, keynote speaker Denise Chapman explored the conference’s topic by sharing her experience of using play and out-of-the-box thinking to transform technology into an arcade experience.
We were then dazzled by numerous speakers who each shared either the way they were using technology in creative ways – like the Breast Cancer Foundation using AI to alleviate symptoms of cancer patients – or the way creative industries were using technology – one couldn’t help but be entertained to learn how Weta Digital created their cutting edge apes in Planet of the Apes! Other speaker topics included data analytics for television programming, video game creation, bringing Maori mythology to life, tech-enhanced physiotherapy, blockchain (of course), and 3D print design using VR.
The highlight that stole the show for me was the event’s final keynote speaker. It was a surreal presentation: the brightly lit stage featured the eloquent Shona Grundy of Soul Machines who spoke to a silenced room about the next generation of artificial intelligence: robots with emotions. She told us this isn’t something that will be coming in the future – it’s now. She tackled head-on the questions that often float around one’s head when thinking about robots: will they be harmful to us? Will they take our jobs? Will they take over? Her answers were no, yes, and no: with a clear and open code of ethics that directs Soul Machines, she said the objective is to create robots that will refocus humans away from the rote and mundane and instead perform the creative roles we’re best at. We got a sneak peak of a demo with one of their bots, who spoke to Grundy and answered her questions. We also got to see the behind the scenes work that went into creating that demo. It was certainly a controversial and provoking presentation, and one that will take time to truly absorb and understand. Still, it was both a sobering and awe-inspiring lens through which to think about technology. The future isn’t coming – it’s here!