Gavin Poole on AI, London’s esports crown and virtual reality skills

Wednesday Jun 07 2023 6:51 am

Interesting people say interesting things in the notebook. Today it’s Gavin Poole, Managing Director of the Here East technology center in Stratford.

Friend or foe? Why we should avoid hasty calls about the future of artificial intelligence

Last week almost every front page of our national newspapers quoted the “AI pioneers” warning us that advances in AI could lead to our own extinction – much like nuclear weapons or some other pandemic, they said. Of course, whenever an expert of this status speaks up, we have to listen. But at the same time, doesn’t the “existential risk” of AI largely depend on how we use it?

While we should definitely monitor the use of artificial intelligence, we should also use the potential of this technology to really reap its benefits. As we’ve already discovered, AI can improve our lives in myriad ways – from streamlining work, accelerating the cure from disease, fueling progress toward a zero-carbon world, improving education, boosting economic growth, to… Supporting the rapid industrialization of emerging countries.

Creating the conditions for safe development of AI will be crucial to this progress. Most importantly, we educate people – especially our young people – on how to use technology properly. With many of our children preparing for GCSEs and high school this summer, I believe AI should be part of the curriculum. Soon, the modern arms race will focus on who has the most AI-savvy workforce and who can make the most of this tool to increase innovation, productivity, and creativity.
It is not in our interest to simply dismiss AI as an impending apocalyptic event. Joining the discussion about how we use them is crucial. So this week, Here East brings together the best and brightest to discuss the AI ​​debate on our East London campus. We hope, in answering the question – AI: friend or foe?

London has stolen the rise of e-sports

President Macron has recently received praise for his efforts to position France as a “great eSports nation”. However, we should not forget London’s pioneering achievements. In East London in particular, where the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has emerged as a leading post-Olympic gaming destination, it was recently described by the Mayor of London as a “world leader in e-sports”. Just last month, the Olympic Park hosted major esports tournaments, including the 20-day League of Legends tournament, which welcomed thousands to East London. With Paris hosting the Olympics next year, Macron’s endorsement of the esports scene seems like an opportune time to reflect on – and promote – London’s own Olympic legacy.

Staying at the top is just as difficult as getting there

According to recent research, London has snatched the crown of global tech capital from New York. I was a little surprised to hear we were fighting for that crown. Having spent some time in Austin at this year’s SXSW festival, there was no doubt that London firmly held that title. As London Tech Week approaches, I hope the discussion will focus on why London is one of the best cities in the world for tech companies and how we can maintain our global status.

Real skills in virtual reality

At a Meta Summit last month, Nick Clegg hailed virtual reality’s “transformative” role in education and training. At Here East, we’ve been experimenting with this technology to immerse ourselves in a virtual world – a world that experts say we’ll be spending more and more of our time in. The UK continues to face difficult questions about our lack of digital skills and how we create growth opportunities to build Britain’s own Silicon Valley. As with AI, the answer is simple: embrace, understand, learn, and then master.

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