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AIIA NSW President urges arts graduates to think about future science

Published 16 Apr 2014

AIIA NSW president Colin Chapman has urged arts and communications graduates to keep a much closer watch on global developments and science in a world where it’s likely they may live to 100, and not only change jobs many times but also the way they work.

Colin was delivering the address at a graduation ceremony at the University of Western Sydney.

“You can’t submerge yourself in your subject to the exclusion of all else”, he said. “Even if you stick to your chosen career path, you’ll find it hard not to be impacted by rapid change. Your educational experience has been with the arts and humanities – a wise choice, full of opportunity – but you need to be aware what’s going on in science.”

He complained that Australian media paid a lot of attention to climate change but gave little coverage to other scientific developments.

“Take robotics, which has moved from sci–fi novels to the mainstream. We have an Australian remote controlled submersible scouring the ocean floor for the wreckage of Malaysian’s flight 370. Less well known is the ability of programmed robots to care for patients with dementia in Japanese nursing homes, providing companionship, a gentle hug, and a friendly voice. Robots in health care will be a big thing this century.

“Robots will increasingly feature in space exploration, where only a couple of weeks ago we discovered the moon of the planet Saturn has a huge sea, an indication there may be life out there.”.

Noting that drones were moving to becoming a weapon of choice in modern warfare, Colin said these unmanned aerial devices that could stay aloft for 17 hours or more were now being developed for civilian use.

China, Russia, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates – as well as the United States – were now all in the market with commercial drones – for sale to police forces, to security businesses, for fire and flood watch, and for traffic control. Even Facebook was investing in drones to connect people to the internet in some of the world’s most densely populated cities.

He added: ” These and many other developments will impact every branch of the arts, humanities and the law. And, in case you think I’ve strayed too far from the subjects you’ve studied, consider this:
“You can buy a drone from the on-line Apple store for less than $500. You can attach a video camera to it and send it up 100 metres or so controlled by your iPhone. Imagine the uses to which this can be put in photography, music advertising, and just plain snooping. Imagine the issues of privacy, safety and security that will arise as these portable drones become a widely used consumer item.”