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Artificial Intelligence experts meet on the Gold Coast

The 13th Pacific Rim International Conference on Artificial Intelligence (PRICAI) held on the Gold Coast in December was a great warm up for the anticipated 1,000+ delegates attending the global meeting on artificial intelligence (AI) in Melbourne in 2017.

The biennial Pacific Rim International Conference on Artificial Intelligence has at its core AI theories, technologies and their applications in the areas of social and economic importance for countries in the Pacific Rim region.

AI is a hot topic around the world and is often steeped in heavy debate on the benefits and dangers of creating thinking machines. Just recently one of the world’s most prominent theoretical physicists, Professor Stephen Hawking, said the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.

Chair of the 13th PRICAI, University of NSW Professor and NICTA (National ICT Australia) researcher, Toby Walsh, dispels these claims, however, agrees that safeguards have to be put in place in the development of AI.

Professor Walsh says Australia is a “significant player” in AI, with the five-day Gold Coast meeting seeing strong representation from leading local tertiary institutions including the University of Queensland, Griffith University, and the Queensland University of Technology.

More than 240 delegates attended from 30 countries, with the largest percentage of delegates from China, Australia and Japan. He said as well as Australian expertise in AI and a strong conference program, the Gold Coast was a clear draw card for delegates.

“The Gold Coast is an attractive destination and is well-known to our Chinese and Japanese neighbours particularly. The accessibility to the Gold Coast also assisted us in achieving the numbers we had, with direct flights from many countries to either Brisbane or the Gold Coast,” he said.

PRICAI-2014 was held at the Mantra Legends Hotel located in the heart of Surfers Paradise, less than 100 metres to patrolled beaches, shopping, dining and the world famous Gold Coast nightlife.

Professor Walsh said a highlight of the social program was cocktails and dinner on levels 77 and 78 of the SkyPoint Observation Deck at the top of the iconic Q1 Resort & Spa – Australia’s tallest residential tower.

“We had a band there who did exceptionally well to get us up dancing because I did warn them that we were quite a geeky crowd. The 80s music helped. We had nothing but praise for this night with one delegate saying it was the best conference dinner event he had ever been to,” Professor Walsh said.

Professor Walsh also had praise for Business Events Gold Coast and the assistance it offered them prior to the event. 

“They arranged flights for inspections and some accommodation rooms, and really went out of their way to help us with selecting the venues,” he said.

Gold Coast Tourism CEO Martin Winter said they were particularly pleased to be chosen to hold PRICAI in 2014 because it was such a good fit for the destination.

“The Gold Coast’s three universities have some of the world’s leading practitioners and thinkers in the field of artificial intelligence, and being such a young and dynamic society, it lives squarely in the now and tomorrow,” Mr Winter said. 

“When you add to this some of the world’s best venues, a great selection of accommodation and a support industry full of business event professionals that deliver, the Gold Coast is an easy choice for decision makers.” 

Professor Walsh is expected to Chair the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence that will be held in Melbourne in 2017 where it is anticipated there will be more than 1,000 delegates in attendance.

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