Something Digital: CSIRO scientists share their expertise at innovation conference

August 30th, 2023

Researchers from the Responsible Innovation Future Science Platform and beyond gathered in Brisbane for a festival of big ideas.
A group of CSIRO staff gathered on a stage in front of a banner that reads 'Something Digital'. Some are sitting, some are standing, all are smiling at the camera wearing their conference passes.

CSIRO comes to Something Digital.

CSIRO scientists were out in force at Something Digital – a digital innovation conference in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. The annual event brings together representatives across the entire digital ecosystem – from industry, to the government and research sectors. The 2023 edition curated a program of 100 speakers with a focus on digital innovation, strategies, and tools, under the theme of ‘Interconnections.’

There was a keynote address from CSIRO Chief Scientist Professor Bronwyn Fox, as well as talks with Data61’s Research Scientist Cara Stitzlein, Postdoctoral Research Fellow Hashini Senaratne, and Cyber-Physical Systems Research Program Director Navinda Kottege. CERC Postdoctoral Fellow Melanie McGrath – who works with the Responsible Innovation (RI) and Collaborative Intelligence (CINTEL) Future Science Platforms also presented, as did RI’s own Research Scientist Rebecca Coates.

Taking the stage

In her address to the Something Digital conference, Professor Fox dived into the current revolution in digital technologies. Her talk touched on innovations as diverse as surgical robots, superfast quantum computers, and AI. She underscored the importance of doing innovation responsibly, with strong guardrails in the form of robust ethics and informed, effective governance.

A woman wearing an elegant grey cape addresses an audience from the stage, which is furnished with a chesterfield sofa, leather chair and small side table with a lamp. In the background is a slide with a graphic of a human hand touching a robotic one.

Photo: Jane Bray.

“Society has a stake in what scientists do because society is directly impacted by its outcome, particularly when used to inform evidence-based decision making. Responsible innovation is the idea that scientific innovation and new technology development can be directed towards achieving outcomes that deliver broad societal benefit,” Professor Fox said.

“Our responsible innovation research program is focused on building our foundational capabilities to understand and anticipate both the intended and unintended consequences of future science and technology.”

“Fundamentally, this is about asking tough questions.”

A place for big ideas

Throughout the conference, over 600 attendees explored fresh ideas, heard the latest tech news and connected with experts across the digital space. Our CSIRO scientists were busy too. Dr Cara Stitzlein moderated panel discussions on robotics and collaborative intelligence, among other topics.

Dr Navinda Kottege, who specialises in robotics, computer vision, and sensing systems, addressed the audience on the growing capabilities of advanced robotics. Dr Rebecca Coates explored the future of responsible technology through the lens of AI and quantum computing ethics. Dr Melanie McGrath presented her research on the science of trust in human-AI teams. Meanwhile Dr Hashini Senaratne spoke on how human capabilities and productivity can be enhanced through collaborative intelligence and create greater accessibility for all Australians.

Justine Lacey, Director of the RI FSP, said: “We are delighted that CSIRO’s Responsible Innovation Future Science Platform is able to support this coming together of experts in digital innovation. We’ve seen some incredible presentations – including from CSIRO researchers – not just on the exciting advancements we’re seeing across the digital sphere, but also on what they mean for society.”