The proudest failure of them all

Wednesday, 03 July 2019

Dr Finkel shared his insights into a range of complex issues at events during May 2019: Artificial Intelligence, the value of STEM study, and the brilliance of failure and what it teaches us.

At National Manufacturing Week in Melbourne, Dr Finkel explained that establishing his own medical devices company offered valuable insights into how the quality assurance and control systems already developed in the manufacturing industry could be used to guide the development of responsible artificial intelligence (AI).

“Good regulation is a CEO’s best friend. Once you know the rules, and you know you comply with them, you can get the backing from investors, and play to win.

“That’s what we should develop around AI: not one Law of AI, but a spectrum of approaches – legal, financial, and cultural – all working together.”

Dr Finkel’s speech is available here.

Dr Finkel at National Manufacturing Week

At the In2science STEM Partnership programs forum, Dr Finkel spoke on the importance of communicating to students that a science degree is more than a one way path to a white coat.

Instead, he explained the incredible breadth of opportunity made available through STEM degrees, and illustrated with his own case study as an engineering graduate 'failure’ turned Australia’s Chief Scientist.

“Let me introduce you to a person who, on some definitions, is a failure. Me!

“As a teenager, I was your typical 1960s high-school nerd. I panicked about not having a lifetime plan for a while, then I opted for engineering.

“At the end of my degree, the obvious next step was to qualify as a professional engineer.

“I didn’t – and I’ve never built a single bridge.

“So I can only guess that on some people’s definitions, I’ve been wasting my engineering degree for a very long time. A failure.

“Let’s have a show of hands. Who’s a failure? Who’s working today in a job that’s not a one-to-one match with their first degree?

“Failure is normal! Many of us would say that failure is great!

“Because the reality is, you may never work a day in your life in a particular profession, and still be getting value from your degree.”

Other panel members included Brenda Frisk (Director, Wyndham Tech School), Alesha Printz (General Manager, Victoria Division Engineers Australia), Gavin Smith (President, Bosch Australia), Jessica Sartori (Assistant Principal, Preston High School), and The Hon Prof John Brumby AO (In2science Chair), who facilitated a spirited panel discussion with questions from the audience members of teachers, parents, universities, and industry representatives.

A copy of Dr Finkel’s speech is here.

In2science partnerships panel discuss the best ways to engage more school students in STEM.

L-R: Dr Alan Finkel (Australia’s Chief Scientist), Brenda Frisk (Director, Wyndham Tech School), Alesha Printz (General Manager, Victoria Division Engineers Australia), Gavin Smith (President, Bosch Australia), Jessica Sartori (Assistant Principal, Preston High School), The Hon Prof John Brumby AO (In2science Chair).

Last updated: Thursday, 07 November 2019