Tuesday, 28 January 2020 03:04

AI ‘visionary’ Professor Genevieve Bell named first Engelbart Distinguished Fellow Featured

Professor Genevieve Bell, ANU Professor Genevieve Bell, ANU

The Australian National University’s Distinguished Professor and director of the 3A Institute at ANU, Professor Genevieve Bell, has been named the inaugural Engelbart Distinguished Fellow by SRI International for her trailblazing work on technology, artificial intelligence and culture.

The two-year Engelbart fellowship recognises “visionaries who are disrupting the traditional way we interact with and view technology” from around the globe, and is named after "one of the pioneers of modern computing" and long-time SRI researcher, Doug Engelbart - who delivered the first demonstration of a personal computer in 1968.

Engelbart orchestrated the first demonstration of a complete computer hardware and software system, and is credited with inventing the mouse and the concept of hyperlinking.

Professor Bell said she was honoured to be named the inaugural Engelbart fellowship winner and recognised in such “stellar company”.

“Doug Engelbart is one of the founders of modern personal computing and had a profound impact on all our lives,” she said.

“Doug invented the tools that helped drive one of the greatest, if not the greatest, technological revolutions the world has ever seen.

“It is a privilege to win this fellowship. But working in this area also brings important responsibilities – and ones I don’t take lightly and which this fellowship will help meet.

“Our world is becoming ever more intertwined and driven by the power of AI. It is permeating everything; not just computers, but cars, buildings, services and streetlights.

“So it is vital that we all develop the skills and knowledge for this world.

“But it’s not just about building new technology. We have to think carefully about its impact. We shouldn’t just ask can we do it; we need to ask should we do it and how can we do it in a way that benefits everyone.”

Distinguished Professor Bell is director of 3Ai at ANU, which SRI says, under her leadership is helping “better prepare society to live in a world driven and defined by artificial intelligence”.

A primary focus of 3Ai is to build a new branch of engineering to ensure the responsible and safe use of AI.

As part of the fellowship Professor Bell will work with SRI researchers to stimulate new ideas, programs and visons.

Based in the United States and headquartered at Menlo Park, California, SRI International is an independent, nonprofit research centre that works with clients to take the most advanced R&D from the laboratory to the marketplace.

SRI International Chief Executive Officer William Jeffrey said the fellowship recognised “disruptive thought leaders” working at the cutting-edge of technology around the globe.

“I can’t think of a better candidate for the inaugural fellowship than Genevieve,” he said.

“Throughout her career, she has made outstanding contributions to technology and our understanding of it.

“At ANU she is building a new science that will ensure we can effectively and ethically manage the impact of AI on humanity.

“Before this, Genevieve spent many years and much of her career in Silicon Valley – both as a Chief Futurist and the first Senior Fellow at Intel, and as a researcher at Stanford.

“Everyone here at SRI is excited to work with Genevieve to support and help drive her vision for the future of engineering and AI. SRI International is thrilled to be able to carry on the legend of Engelbart and to recognise other cutting-edge technology leaders.”


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Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).



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