Congratulations to Auckland University of Technology (AUT) for hosting this excellent event.  What a fantastic opportunity it was to hear such impressive and thought-provoking presentations by outstanding academic experts about how artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming our lives.

The Symposium investigated AI’s impact across the following themes:

  • AI as disruptor
  • Revolutionising the creative process
  • AI in the caring environment
  • Exploring the effects of AI in the media
  • AI in the creative industries

The Symposium finished with a panel discussion – Where to next?

– link to the full programme and presenter details :

RNZ MediaWatch Review

Well done to Colin Peacock, MediaWatch presenter, RNZ for his great review: AI coming ready or not for our news and music.

  • “Business is booming in artificial intelligence technology and new applications appear in the news almost daily. At an AUT symposium this week, experts said it’s already being deployed in creative industries to create instant ad campaigns, virtual influencers, robo-journalism and machine-made music. But is AI a creative collaborator – or just a ‘handy butler’? “
  • I do recommend everyone read Colin’s review and listen to his excellent podcast:

It would be well worth watching out for more reviews of these discussions because plenty of useful insights were shared.  Likely AUT will be publishing summaries and links to the presenters slideshows soon so keep an eye out for that.

Symposium Welcome & End of Day Wisdom

In his welcome, Associate Professor Dafydd Sill-Jones,  Acting Head School of Communication Studies, Auckland University of Technology (AUT) said artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere including now being in widespread use by  the general public.   His take on what is happening included these messages:

  • We must be careful not to jump to assumptions.
  • We are still getting to grips with AI.
  • We have to ‘unpack’ what we have seen and done.
  • We need to take a good look around and work out what to do.

Then at the end of a great day, Nigel Horrocks, facilitator of the Artificial Intelligence – Where to Next panel  started  the panel discussions comparing the stage of AI development now as being similar to  the early internet days in the 1990’s:

  • This is a journey we have been on before.
  • People said they didn’t need the internet at the beginning…

Here is a little potpourri of some of the points I noted as we went along and a few thoughts of my own:

Dr. Sarah Baker  – Ambivalent AI: Threat or Saviour

Concepts of rogue robots are certainly not new:

“No question about the ubiquitous nature of AI now.”

The future of advertising campaigns: The role of AI-generated images in advertising creativity  presented by Daniel Fastnedge.

Really interesting to hear Dan and his team  used Dell-E2 for their research project.  Good to re-learn terms such as small but ferocious, visual collisions and insights about how they developed new images in a retake of the  famous VW in nature campaign made in 2015.  See this link for the original story

Here is a link AUT published about their re-take in April 2023. :

Here are some of Dan’s insights:

  • Expect plenty of re-touching
  • Technology is risky
  • Human talent is needed to pilot AI
  • Is AI a tool or a partner?

Empowering Education with AI: Opportunities and Challenges presented by Dr Mahsa Mohaghegh, Senior Lecturer, School of Engineering – Computer and Mathematical Sciences and  Director of Women in Technology at AUT.

 AI in education is going to be about:

  • Personalised learning
  • Equitable access

 Here’s to plenty of that!   

For more on Dr Mohaghegh, listen to her RNZ interview on 25 May 2023 with  Kathryn Ryan: “Technology expert Dr Mahsa Mohaghegh joins Kathryn to talk about the continued debate on how to handle the rise of artificial intelligence in the education sector, how people can develop their AI skills and how to handle in-game purchases.”

Flawless and scandal free: Exploring media portrayals of virtual influencers presented by Petra Theunissen and Deepti Bhargava

Alistair’s general notes

In no particular order  here are some of my other general notes of issues and things that seem important to keep our lenses on and radars out for news of developments:

  • Ethics – declare and define boundaries, authenticity, declaration of AI use – walling information, pick and choose the blooms, then only the wants they want you to pick
  • AI is a Visual Revolution
  • Not quite there yet, lots of limitations. Think of this as preamble, AI is becoming more proficient every day
  • Jobs will go but new jobs will be created. Boring jobs will go.  Task-based jobs will go.  Need to look at shapes of things to come and to fill gaps.
  • Is NZ government AI regulation necessary? EU about to enact guidelines and USA is updating Copyright Guidelines for use AI, but see also
  • Dataset ID important in tracking
  • We humans are not special or unique in our capabilities
  • No point in being afraid – embrace AI. Learn as much as possible
  • Help prevent chasms between them and us
  • We are on the cusp of a new wave unleashing our human potential.
  • What happens if scaping data for LLMs stops? Will settlement agreements be transparent?
  • Procedural Artistry (Algorithms guide the data) versus AI Artistry (Data guides the algorithm)
  • Visual effects (VFX) is the driving engine of Hollywood cinema
  • AI will make VFX production available to everyone
  • AI allows you to do things when you step in the door – it saves so much time!!

AI in the caring environment –

Great to get some health perspectives too.  There were three, see topics and presenters below.  If AUT shares links to the presentations I’ll edit the blog and include them.

Here’s some screenshots I took  of the presentation for AI in healthcare  – Removing people or supporting them in their practice presentation showing an overview of the various aspects where AI has become important:




Final thoughts by Alistair

  • Well done to the whole team from AUT and others who were involved in making the symposium happen.  Thank you for sharing your stories and experiences.   Thank you for your hard work behind the scenes to keep the symposium flowing and dealing with  things that needed attention so responsively 💖
  • This symposium has considered just a small slice of aspects of AI deployment going on – it is clear to me AI is going to live up to the hype to become transformational for good and bad!
  • Whilst the presentations have highlighted impressive applications of AI and identified major issues around AI use,  AI will evolve quickly from where it is now.
  • It has been well worth taking the time to hear the presentations, to observe and attempt to absorb as much as possible.
  • Good to have this as my second blog published.  I am sure it will quickly become out of date in terms of  a “snapshot” of where AI  is at, but also worthwhile to have something to look back upon.
  • Thank you for reading this😊

Alistair Fraser – 14 September 2023

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