The Lab's Big Picture Session: Man vs Machine

September 10, 2014

ON AUGUST 21ST, WE WERE PROUD TO HOST OUR 3RD ANNUAL BIG PICTURE SESSION: MAN VS MACHINE.  

Held in the spectacular setting of the National Gallery of Victoria, the debate itself was less adversarial than the topic name indicates; we discussed the tension created by exponential technologies, as well as the opportunities it creates for us – as workers, as creative people, as humans.

We looked at the increasing capability of machines—from driverless Google cars to domestic machines like Baxter that can ‘learn’ complex tasks—and the implications for humans as the demarcation between man and machine reduces over time. In short, we asked the question:  

What if humans were no longer top dog? What would it mean for our roles, tensions and aspirations in the 21st century?


THE LAB'S CULTURAL MAPPING STUDY

From our recent Cultural Mapping Study in which we uncovered 5 Emerging Aussie Ideals, we chose to explore three that related closely to the aforementioned tension:

i) Recasting the Mould – Resetting the rules in all spheres of life; to do things like never before. This takes the form of Entrepreneurialism 2.0, facilitated through technological advancements, like removing the middle man between producer and consumer.

ii) Grit – Working towards success with inner strength, determination and personal responsibility – all inherently human traits

iii) Wabi Sabi – a  comprehensive Japanese worldview centered on the mantra that “nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect”– a reaction against to the clinical efficiency of machines in a tech age.


OUR ESTEEMED SPEAKERS

Representing ‘man’ was David McAllister. David is a member of the Order of Australia, and has had an illustrious 31-year career with The Australian Ballet, currently holding the position of Artistic Director. He spoke about inherently human values underpinning success and mastery.  

Representing ‘machine’ was Oscar Schwartz. Oscar is a Melbourne-based writer interested in the intersection between culture, literature, and technology. He is currently studying a PhD at Monash University, exploring the question: “Can a computer write poetry, and if so, what does this mean for readers and writers?” He spoke about the increasing role of machines in the field of poetry, and the new tech capabilities in creative fields.  

We were thrilled by the myriad anecdotes and powerful insights that both provided on the topic. 

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If you missed the event, here’s your chance to catch up on our favourite parts of the night, as well as thoughts from attendees:


If this stokes your interest, we’d love to bring the full 'Emerging Australian Ideals' roadshow to you. In the presentation, we delve into 5 ideals and narratives that your brand can tap into. 

If you're interested in something that's even more future-facing, we also have our study on 'Ideals of Tomorrow' available. Just have a chat to any one of our Strategy Directors to find out more about these cultural studies.  

Once again, we’d like to extend our thanks to our speakers and attendees for making this year's Big Picture Session a huge success! 


Cheers,
The Lab Team