Innovation Week

From 30 July until 6 August, The University of Sydney presents Innovation Week, a series of events to celebrate its trailblazing and radical discoveries. Among questions raised are whether storytelling is bad for science, how art influences the brain and can robots really be our friends.

Throughout the week dynamic student ideas will be explored in the Student Innovation Challenge and many more ideas debated and discussed by the University’s experts.

Sydney Ideas

Is storytelling bad for science?
Tuesday 31 July, 6pm
Panel includes Professor Nick Enfield (linguistics), John Collee (Screenwriter for Happy Feet and Mad Max Fury Road), Alana Valentine (Verbatim), and Professor Jennifer Byrne (molecular oncology)

It is widely held that scientists should, or must, use ‘story telling’ to communicate their findings, and to increase impact and engagement. It is an innovative, exciting, and challenging idea for many researchers. But what does it mean? And is it a good idea?

First, what do we mean by ‘storytelling’ anyway? Second, scientists are not trained to develop and tell stories – should we be? Third, storytelling is by definition emotive and subjective, while scientific work often upholds values of reason and objectivity.

This panel will explore these questions and more, including the possibility that storytelling is exactly what science needs, with a view to answering the question: Is storytelling bad for science?

Art and the Brain
Wednesday 1 August, 6pm

Hear about the connection between art, dementia, and the brain, by joining this panel comprised of Professor Sharon Naismith (Leonard P Ullman Chair in Psychology), Gill Nicol (MCA Director of Audience Engagement), Professor Linda Barwick (musicology) and Bernadette Harvey (prodigy pianist and lecturer at The Con).

Outside the Square

Ethical AI: Are robots our friends?
Thursday 2 August, 6pm
Panel includes Professor David Braddon-Mitchell (philosophy), Professor Salah Sukkarieh (robotics and intelligent systems), and Alice Klein (Australasia reporter for the New Scientist)

There is consensus that artificial intelligence (AI) will shortly change our world beyond recognition, radically reorganising relations between humans and machines. But is this a good or a bad thing?

On the one hand, AI is rapidly delivering great benefit to humans—through the minimisation of dangerous or boring tasks; and the removal of human error as seen in algorithmically driven medical diagnoses or the swift analysis of complex legal and financial documentation.

On the other, AI threatens mass unemployment across the blue-and white-collar divide as the distribution of new wealth consolidates inequality. In a disrupted world, in which individuals are increasingly reliant on machines, human psychologies and morals are tested and the very notion of what it is to be human breaks down.

Join the great AI debate as two pro-robot experts take on one very sceptical philosopher—are robots our friends?

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Highlight events

Invent a wearable blood pressure device and win
Current blood pressure measuring devices don’t provide accurate long-term readings. The Westmead Applied Research Centre, which launches on August 10, is supporting innovative research in the hopes of solving this real-world problem. Register for the challenge before August 10.
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Innovation Week Coding Challenge
Contribute to important research into dementia and win $10,000. Competition closes 16 July 16 – register now!
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Student innovation showcase
4pm July 31, TAG Family Foundation Room.
Come along and see our innovative students pitch their startup and research solutions to real word problems, and listen to a panel of alumni discuss entrepreneurship.
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3-Minute Thesis finals
Friday 3 August
See our research students showcase their research topic and its significance in an engaging way – in no more than three minutes!
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Innovation in architecture and design
The Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning is celebrating 100 years of pioneering teaching and research on the built environment with a symposium on cathedral thinking – designing for the next century. The Innovation in Applied Design Lab will also showcase an apartment prototype on campus, the outcome of an industry partnership with Lendlease.
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Innovation Week celebrates the ground breaking discoveries and transformative inventions from The University of Sydney academics and students. Browse the full program.