CDE News – June 2020 issue

One of my most vivid childhood memories is me standing right next to my parents, who are buying my first computer. It is a black and white Atari 800XL, with a cassette tape player, XC12, and I cannot contain my excitement. Little did I know how my life would change thanks to these two devices. Back then I had no way of imagining that a few decades later my kids would attend preschool in Sunnyvale, just a few miles away from where my first computer was created. And that, in some form of a cathartic offering, I would bring my old Atari from my childhood home in Poland to my then-home in Silicon Valley as an adult working for one of the largest software businesses in the world.

The offering part was just a metaphor. I didn’t sacrifice my computer at 1265 Borregas Avenue. I wouldn’t part ways with my Atari. It’s still with me, and I am pretty sure I’ll keep it for a while. If you happen to have a spare power supply for the XL or XE line, let me know!

Childhood experiences shape our lives. There’s no doubt about it. And it is amazing to see the efforts of passionate people sharing their knowledge with future generations and exciting kids about their future. Kudos to Prof. Michael Milford, a member of the Centre for the Digital Economy, who will soon speak at AI for Rookies, an event co-organised by Queensland AI Hub and Women in AI. The event is targeted at kids between 9-13 years of age. If you feel like an AI rookie, but are a tiny bit older, consider joining a 1h session on AI 101 coming up this Monday (with speakers from KPMG, UQ, and QUT)! Regardless of your age, you can watch a new show, Coding@Home, developed in partnership between Channel 10 and Queensland’s Department of Education. You can stream the episodes on your TV, or watch them from the department website. I had the pleasure of contributing to two episodes there, talking about what happens when algorithms go shopping, and why the future is exciting. My kids approved!

Speaking of shopping. Dr Paula Dootson, together with Prof. Gary Mortimer, wrote an article for The Conversation, exploring the impact of self-surveillance on self-reflection: why retailers are introducing cameras in self-checkout terminals. The “think of yourself” section of the article was a big eye-opener for me (no pun intended, though the pun only becomes obvious when you read the article). Paula discussed the topic on ABC Radio on Tuesday, and you can listen to it online.

In other news, on Monday I joined Steve Austin on ABC Radio to share an update on what’s happening with the COVIDSafe app. Some good developments, some concerning developments, and some non-developments (more details here). QUT has risen up in world university rankings for the fourth year in a row, and we’re all very proud of this recognition. Finally, two weeks ago I was invited by Queensland Government Chief Customer and Digital Officer, Chris Fechner, to discuss digital resilience and digital agility in the public sector. There is a recording of that session available online.

Stay safe and curious,

Prof. Marek Kowalkiewicz
Centre for the Digital Economy


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