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Imagining Better Futures with Cybernetics

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Event description

Discover cybernetic principles to help you navigate complex systems and create a ‘humanity first’ approach to your startup. 

Entrepreneurs typically seek to contribute to a better future, but what does this mean as you incorporate frontier technologies into your startup growth strategy? How can you create futures that are safe, inclusive, sustainable and responsible? How can you make sure you offer ethical services? What kinds of questions should you ask yourself in order to minimise harmful effects of unintended consequences?  What does it mean, to use data in ways that are “better for everyone”?

Join us to learn how organisations are thinking about sustainable, responsible futures using data for the benefit of everyone; and how startup founders can use cybernetics to unpack complexity for confident decision-making around emerging technologies. 

Panel members 

  • PhD candidate Lorenn Ruster, ANU School of Cybernetics 
  • Research Fellow Chris Mesiku, ANU School of Cybernetics
  • Alex Fischer, Head of Research, Paul Ramsey Foundation  
  • Andrew Akib, Co-Founder, Maslow
  • Rachel Green, CEO SANE Australia
  • Anne-Marie Elias (moderator), UTS Fellow in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Morning tea will be served after formal presentation.

About cybernetics 

At ANU School of Cybernetics, we are activating cybernetics as an important tool for navigating major societal transformations, through capability building, policy development and safe, sustainable and responsible approaches to new systems.  

The word cybernetics has been used in many contexts and comes from the Greek word meaning “governance”, or “to steer, navigate or govern". Its creation as a movement and trans-disciplinary endeavour in a moment of upheaval and change after World War II offered a new approach to looking at systems as building blocks of the future. 

In the 1940s and 1950s, thinkers from diverse backgrounds - and from all over the world - held a series of conversations about what the future might be like as humans and computers began to co-exist. How would we control and navigate emerging technological systems and where would humans sit in relationship to them? How would we actively decide how we were going to build those machines, live with them, steer them and integrate them into our world? Cybernetics is an increasingly relevant concept today as AI-enabled technological systems accelerate at scale.

Meet our speakers:

Chris Mesiku is a Research Fellow at the ANU School of Cybernetics researching challenges at the intersection of data and disadvantage. He has been working at CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) in projects around data analytics, data visualisation and responsible adoption of technology. Beginning with trying to change smallholder farmers attitude to planting trees on their farms to trying to convince agricultural teachers to adopt data driven agriculture, Chris has always been interested in using data to achieve behaviour change for social transformation. 

Lorenn Ruster is a responsible technology collaborator with the Centre for Public Impact, and current PhD student at the Australian National University’s School of Cybernetics, following a decade in strategy consulting. Her PhD research investigates ways in which dignity-centred artificial intelligence development are enabled and thwarted in entrepreneurial ecosystems. 

Alex Fischer leads programs related to thought leadership and strategic research at Paul Ramsey Foundation to discover new ideas and integrate learnings into projects and partnerships. He also works with a cross-Foundation team on the development of a Data Futures initiative. His work seeks to make cycles of advantage and disadvantage visible in new ways and to amplify the Foundation’s and our partners’ ideas of how to overcome complex barriers and enable greater opportunities. Before joining the Foundation, Alex’s career evolved around the intersection of research and policy, building partnerships between government departments, United Nations agencies, private sector companies and interdisciplinary data initiatives.

Andrew Akib left his career as a product and strategy consultant after a friend was paralysed by a traumatic injury to create better solutions for families to manage care from home. Maslow, a patient-entered platform that makes it easy for people with disabilities, the elderly, and families to manage care at home, leverages data to reduce risk of readmission, increase quality of care and enable remote access to therapy programs.

Rachel Green is CEO of SANE Australia, offering connection and community to people with complex mental health issues including trauma and support to the family and friends who care about them. Driven by her passion for pursuing big impact and community-designed solutions, Rachel leads from her own lived experience of what she describes as ‘the full charm bracelet’ of complex mental health, including living well with ADHD, GAD, PTSD, ED, her lived experience as a survivor of trauma, assault, family violence and suicide attempts; as well as her experiences as a support person for family members and close friends living with mental health issues and battling suicidality. Prior to joining SANE, Rachel was CEO of a medium sized mental health, housing and disability NGO. She has also worked at the Black Dog Institute where she designed and implemented a $15m community suicide prevention trial known as LifeSpan and supported the establishment of a further 12 additional National Suicide Prevention trials.

Anne-Marie Elias is a two time TedX speaker who preaches the gospel of disrupting the status quo and believes tipping point problems can be solved through social innovation and entrepreneurship. A respected and trusted adviser across government, NGO, industry and academia, Anne-Marie has been a senior policy adviser to state and federal government ministers, on both sides of politics, and has been a part of significant programs and reforms. Anne-Marie spent the last year working at Beckon Capital an impact investment startup, as CEO which completed her journey of understanding capital and underserved markets. Anne-Marie is a UTS Fellow in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and recently co founded Impact61 a social enterprise focused on disrupting impact investing and building a clearer pathway to invest in community led impact.


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