We are thrilled to welcome Professor Toby Walsh, Associate Professor Suzie Sheehy, and Professor Una-May O’Reilly as our keynote speakers.


Toby Walsh

University of New South Wales, Australia

Generative AI: why all the fuss?


ChatGPT burst into people’s lives at the end of 2022, heralding the arrival of large language models in particular, and generative AI in general. How best to see this moment in the development of AI. What is generative AI actually good for? And what are its limitations? And how might we tackle them? In this talk, I’ll explore how to understand recent breakthroughs in AI, and discuss what might come next.

Speaker Bio

Toby Walsh is an ARC Laureate Fellow and Scientia Professor of AI at UNSW and CSIRO Data61. He is Chief Scientist of UNSW.AI, UNSW's new AI Institute. He is a strong advocate for limits to ensure AI is used to improve our lives, having spoken at the UN, and to heads of state, parliamentary bodies, company boards and many others on this topic. This advocacy has led to him being "banned indefinitely" from Russia. He is a Fellow of the Australia Academy of Science, and was named on the international "Who's Who in AI" list of influencers. He has written four books on AI for a general audience, the most recent is "Faking It! Artificial Intelligence in A Human World".

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Suzie Sheehy

University of Melbourne, Australia

Lessons from curiosity-driven physics research


From the serendipitous discovery of X-rays in a German laboratory, to the scientists trying to prove Einstein wrong about quantum mechanics (and inadvertently proving him right), to the race to split the atom: physicists have shaped innumerable aspects of how we live today. In this talk, accelerator physicist and author Suzie Sheehy will share her key lessons from over 100 years of curiosity-driven experiments to understand the microscopic. Far from just talking about revolutions in understanding the cosmos, Sheehy will share lessons learned by bring physics down to Earth and putting it firmly back where it belongs, in the hands of the people.

Speaker Bio

Associate Professor Suzie Sheehy is a physicist, science communicator and academic whose research addresses both curiosity-driven and applied areas. She leads the accelerator physics group at the University of Melbourne, developing new particle accelerators for applications in medicine. She is the current director of the Australian Collaboration for Accelerator Science (ACAS) and holds a Visiting Lectureship at the University of Oxford. She has held prestigious research fellowships from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 and the Royal Society.

Suzie is also an award-winning speaker, author, and science communicator, dedicated to bringing stories of science and scientists to the wider community. Her 2018 TED talk on ‘The Case for Curiosity Driven Research’ has been viewed almost 2 million times, and her acclaimed popular science book ‘The Matter of Everything: Twelve Experiments that Changed Our World’, has been published worldwide in 12 languages.

Coevolution in Natural and Artificial Systems


In its most recognizable form, coevolution is a natural process. It is ubiquitous in natural systems whether they are biological or social. But, a community of Evolutionary Computation researchers have also used computation and algorithms to artificially replicate coevolution. They do so for a rich variety of purposes. I will talk about the remarkable correspondences and contrasts between coevolution in nature and computation, and I will outline open challenges and opportunities in this fascinating, complex research area.

Speaker Bio

Dr. Una-May O'Reilly is the leader of ALFA Group at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab. An evolutionary computation researcher for 20+ years, she is broadly interested in adversarial intelligence — the intelligence that emerges and is recruited while learning and adapting in competitive settings. Her interest has led her to study settings where security is under threat, for which she has developed machine learning algorithms that variously model the arms races of tax compliance and auditing, malware and its detection, cyber network attacks and defenses, and adversarial paradigms in deep learning. She is passionately interested in programming and genetic programming. She is a recipient of the EvoStar Award for Outstanding Achievements in Evolutionary Computation in Europe and the ACM SIGEVO Award Recognizing Outstanding Achievements in Evolutionary Computation. Devoted to the field and committed to its growth, she served on the ACM SIGEVO executive board from SIGEVO's inception and held different officer positions before retiring from it in 2023. She co-founded the annual workshops for Women@GECCO and has proudly watched their evolution to Women+@GECCO. She was on the founding editorial boards and continues to serve on the editorial boards of Genetic Programming and Evolvable Machines, and ACM Transactions on Evolutionary Learning and Optimization. She has received a GECCO best paper award and an GECCO test of time award. She is honored to be a member of SPECIES, a member of the Julian Miller Award committee, and to chair the 2023 and 2024 committees selecting SIGEVO Awards Recognizing Outstanding Achievements in Evolutionary Computation.