How Monash - and Dr Who - inspired quest to explore AI
Monash Business School alumna Debbie Key credits her passion for exploring uncharted technological territory with a long-running TV show’s adventurous central character.
“Dr Who really opened me up to the world - they taught me to be curious, to dig deeper and to embrace the unknown,” the self-confessed fan-girl said. “I don’t think I’d be where I am today, if not for the show.”
Today Ms Key is Founder and Chief Learning Officer of organisational learning and development consultancy Success BOX. As part of her role, she harnesses the latest technology, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) conversation workshops, to enhance her clients' learning experience and engagement.
Ms Key says her enthusiasm for AI was first ignited while she was earning her Master’s degree at Monash Business School.
“We were doing a unit about technology in the classroom, and my lecturer showed us a program where you could hold a mobile phone against a tree to find out how old it was, how much it was growing, even what diseases it had,” she said.
“I walked away from that class thinking, ‘This is amazing - I have got to get into that space’.”
Empowering others to embrace change
Ms Key recently returned to her old stomping ground – in a virtual sense - to deliver a Monash Business School Alumni Seminar on ChatGPT.
“As a tool, ChatGPT is an amazing resource that can empower individuals and businesses to save time and boost productivity,” she told a 200-plus international crowd of Monash graduates. “In the past, we had to go to the library, photocopy something, and bring it home. We don’t have to do that anymore.”
Ms Key warned those who failed to embrace the technology were in danger of being left behind. “It’s going to be part of our lives going forward, and it’s important to get a grasp of it so that you are on the journey and can stay at the cutting edge of innovation,” she said.
“So, embrace it - get curious.”
Are robots going to take over the world?
Ms Key is quick to debunk the idea that humanity is on the cusp of a robot apocalypse. “Absolutely not - the Daleks are not coming for us,” she said. “People will not be replaced by AI. What they will be replaced by is other people who can use this technology to their advantage.”
She said many current misconceptions around AI come from an unfounded fear of the unknown. “What many people don’t realise is that we are already using AI technology constantly in our daily lives,” she said. “The simplest tasks we take for granted, like Google Assist, Siri, GPS, are all based on AI, we just don’t recognise it.”
Ethical quandaries along the way
That’s not to say there aren’t ethical questions ahead, Ms Key said. “Many of the questions we are facing today are much like those we faced during the Industrial Revolution,” she said.
“AI has the capacity to be a very similar disruptor to society, to how we operate and work.”
She said it’s important to remember tools such as ChatGPT do not possess human consciousness. “Just because it’s having a conversation with you doesn’t mean it’s a real person,” she said. “It doesn’t have feelings, there is no intention. It is a machine, not an entity.”
Ms Key said generative tools such as ChatGPT had the potential to augment human capability, but not to replace human judgement. “Human oversight is essential, you have to take that responsibility,” she said.
“You must review accuracy and relevancy, because at the end of the day, if you are putting your name to something, you want to make sure it sounds like you and that you can verify the information.”
"It’s an exciting time to be alive"
Ms Key believes in the future, tools like ChatGPT will become even more integrated into our lives. “How we do things, and where we do them, are going to change phenomenally,” she said. “If only I could jump in the Tardis and see where we are in 20 years - it’s an exciting time to be alive!”
She said the real challenge might be remembering we are still in control. “We’ll always need human connection and relationships,” she said. “But I believe we’ve got to work with AI - and make it work for us in the future.”
As for her own future, Ms Key hopes it’s one where she can indulge her insatiable thirst for knowledge. “In the future, I want to stay curious, keep exploring new things and continuously share my experiences with others on a global scale,” she said.