146: Genevieve Bell and the future of AI

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This week we bring you a special episode of InTransition, a one-on-one discussion with Genevieve Bell, cultural anthropologist and leading expert in artificial intelligence.

Following her PhD in anthropology from Stanford University in 1998, Genevieve was offered a job at Intel through a chance meeting with a man in a bar at Palo Alto in 1998. This man in question had contacts at Intel who were busy setting up a social science research lab at the time and Genevieve was introduced to the world of anthropology in the high-tech industry. While Genevieve initially turned down this offer, as she was on track for tenure at Stanford, she later accepted.

With a career spanning 20 years, Genevieve is now back in Canberra as a professor at the Australian National University. She founded the Autonomy, Agency and Assurance Institute (3Ai), seeking to advance Australia’s knowledge of artificial intelligence and its role in the future.

Genevieve Bell and artificial intelligence

Discussed in this episode:

  • Genevieve’s humble beginnings on anthropology sites around Australia and the world
  • Her curiosity for change
  • Her life growing up and the influence it had on her field of study
  • “Accidentally” liking anthropology and later pursuing her PhD in that field
  • Looking at her transition from working towards tenure at Stanford to corporate life at Intel
  • A look at Silicon Valley in the late 1990s
  • The importance of cultural anthropology in technology
  • The role empathy plays in leadership and innovation
  • People always come first, “if it isn’t meaningful, it doesn’t matter”
  • “Why” is more powerful than “what”
  • The future of AI

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