Data Revolution newsletter - Nov 2023

Handcrafted musings on the data revolution

Welcome to the November 2023 issue of the Data Revolution newsletter. This past month I have been out and about and have attended several conferences seeing folks in person, which was delightful. One common thread across all of these events is AI. In fact, AI is all that anyone is talking about nowadays, in particular Generative AI.

Data governance

This week I was on a panel in Sydney about data governance (hosted by Precision Sourcing and Ashurst) with the super-smart and switched on Chantal Velasque and Bikram Choudhury - both experienced data governance practitioners. Chantal summed up the conversation nicely saying we: ”shared nuggets of wisdom about the reasons why data governance is so important, especially now, touching on AI, privacy reforms, data breaches, data literacy and more. We discussed the challenges to overcome for rolling out data governance and talked about the transferable skills that can help to move into this space.” I also mentioned one of my favourite things, the The Big Five Data Questions to ask about your data to help kick start your data governance journey.

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But as usual AI just makes me think more about data governance! There is a real dearth of education around data governance, so I am working with the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) in Sydney to deliver some education in this space. Starting in July 2024 I will be delivering a new short course – Data Governance for Leaders – at AGSM

Scary and compact LLMs

The promise of AI is so remarkable and it is such an exciting time to be part of the industry, yet the same affordances are available to the bad actors among us. Recently Mark Pesce and I were playing around with an LLM called Mistral 7b - which has none of the controls that things like Chat GPT have - and it dawned on us that we could fit the LLM onto a Raspberry PI (Mark has written up an account of this here). Now this LLM can answer any questions you ask it (except it does not seem to know what a lemonade scone is and was unable to provide a recipe). For example, I was asking it for things like how to make IEDs and dynamite, how to manufacture various illicit drugs, and it answered in detail. And all of this was happening in private on Mark’s server, without an online trail. This means that the bad folks could conceivably have their own custom LLMs running locally on their smart phones or other devices. Anyway, it might just be about time to start rethinking your threat models.

UNSW AI Symposium

But one thing that is giving me hope in respect of AI is seeing all the amazing research that is going on. Due to my involvement with the UNSW AI Institute I was privileged to be MC at their inaugural UNSW AI Symposium on 22 November (for those interested here is a video explainer about UNSW.ai). Topics included:

  • AI & Cybersecurity

  • AI in Scientific Discovery

  • AI in Healthcare and Life Sciences

  • AI Ethics and Fairness

  • Law and Policy to ensure safe and responsible AI

  • AI and the Environment

  • Smart Cities and Urban AI

  • Ethics and Privacy in Data Science

  • AI in Defence Research and Development

  • AI and Arts, Design & Creativity

  • Business AI and AI in Economic Policy

From the fascinating opening keynote from the amazing Professor Tony Cohn, followed up by a fascinating talk about the NSW Government AI framework and the future of AI from NSW’s Chief Data Scientist Dr Ian Oppermann, through the presentations from the various research groups listed above, it was all woven through with ideas about ethics and fairness. And it did give me hope for the future. I will share the videos when they go up on the YouTube channel.

Some recent episodes

From the Data Revolution podcast:

That is all for now. Thanks for reading this 🙏

See you next time 👋

cheers, Kate

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