AI Collaborative Network: We need artificial intelligence on our minds


EVERYONE has heard about it. Nobody can describe precisely what it is. But demand for artificial intelligence is exploding — and far outstripping Australia’s capacity to produce it.

According to the AI Collaborative Network, one of the rapidly developing field’s greatest challenges is that reality has far outstripped the public’s perception of what it is.

AI isn’t about mimicking the human mind as is often believed.

Instead, it is whatever we need it to be.

And that need is growing at an exponential rate.

Medicine. Dating. Retail. Engineering. Psychology. Sport. Robotics. History. Politics.

“It’s now across all industries,” says AI Collaborative Network co-founder Yolanda Sam.

All are discovering the incredible potential for machine learning and AI to sift through enormous amounts of data, solve problems — and make decisions.

That has produced a vast, unmet demand for coders capable of tailoring machine learning for each specific task. And that’s because not enough people understand what AI is.

“I think it is fair to say that there’s a difference in the use of the word ‘intelligence’ between the general public and those actually using it,” Ms Sam says. “We need to cut through the hype and reveal what people are actually doing”.

Dr Mark McDonnell, who will be speaking at an Adelaide AI Collaborative Network presentation Wednesday night, is applying the technology to improving the performance of tennis players.

“Video analytics is a powerful tool for athletes and their coaches,” he says. “However, current solutions require painstaking manual labelling and editing, and so are high cost, slow and provide limited insights.” But combining computer vision with machine learning can make the process real-time, with coaching being alerted to errors in technique as the player makes them.

And then there’s medicine.

Dr Emily Hackett-Jones will show how the raw power of machine learning to quickly analyse the genes in thousands of individual cells to sift out those that are cancerous.

“Many people don’t really consider what they’re doing to be AI or machine learning,” Sam says. “They come from physics or maths backgrounds and just do it because they need to solve a problem. So these things generally happen in a bubble. But we need these people to collaborate and share their skills.”

“South Australia is competitive world wide in machine learning and AI work,” says Nick Lothian, founder of “However all the people working on it are isolated from each other and not well known to the broader public. This is what we hope to change with the AI Collaborative Network.”

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