City of Sydney

05/01/2018 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/30/2018 19:11

AI moves from ordering pizza to running our lives

One of the world's leading artificial intelligence (AI) inventors predicts robotics will be making more than half the world's decisions within the next three years, as AI increasingly influences our everyday life and impacts the workplace.

Liesl Yearsley, an ethical AI expert and technology business founder, will be sharing her deep knowledge of developing and launching tech startups with local Sydney entrepreneurs as part of the City of Sydney's Visiting Entrepreneur Program.

The program will bring high profile international entrepreneurs to Sydney to share their expertise and knowledge with the local tech startup community from 17 May to 8 June.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the program would deliver deep insights, advice and guidance to help Sydney's startups launch and grow on a global scale.

'This unique program will help foster a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation and raise awareness of Sydney's tech startup ecosystem locally, nationally and globally,' the Lord Mayor said.

'Through this program, we're bringing high profile entrepreneurs who have successfully launched global businesses to share their time, expertise and knowledge with local entrepreneurs - allowing them to tap into incredible expertise that will be a great boost for our startups.'

The visiting entrepreneur program covers a range of topics, including technology for social good, online product management and a CityTalk Sydney panel on the democratisation of technology.

Three globally successful tech entrepreneurs will be taking part in workshops, fireside chats, speaking events, forums and one-on-one mentoring sessions with local entrepreneurs:

Jim McKelvey - co-founder of Silicon Valley success story Square, a high-growth $20 billion fintech startup that revolutionised mobile payments for millions of small businesses. Jim is also the founder of LaunchCode, Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis and a master glass artist and industrial designer with work featured at both MoMA and the Smithsonian. He most recently founded Invisibly, a startup aiming to give people control of their online identities.

Stephanie Hannon - a product development and community building expert that has worked for the likes of Google, Facebook and Eventbrite. She was the first female CTO on a major presidential campaign - Hillary for America 2016. Ms Hannon is currently the CPO of Strava, a health and fitness startup inspiring a global community of millions of athletes.

Liesl Yearsley- artificial intelligence expert and serial startup founder. Her previous company was bought by IBM and is now a significant part of IBM's AI search assistant, Watson. Ms Yearsley's current company, A·kin, builds AI with the single goal of improving the human state.

Ms Yearsley will launch the program with her event: 'Me, Myself and AI, a fireside chat on humanising artificial intelligence with Liesl Yearsley' on Thursday 17 May.

'Currently AI is used mostly by companies to get people to buy more things, or for dropping the cost of doing business, but AI is set to become deeply involved in our lives and have a tremendous influence on behaviour,' Ms Yearsley said.

'One of the top Alexa skills is pizza ordering, but AI can also help us meet our goals, be healthier and more connected with others, and improve our financial wellbeing and human impact on the environment. But this will only happen if we consciously build AI in this way.'

The program has been created in partnership with the NSW Government. NSW Minister for Innovation, Matt Kean, urged Sydney startups to be part of the innovative series.

'We want Sydney to be known as the startup capital of the globe, so this is a great chance for our home-grown talent to be mentored by the world's top innovators,' Mr Kean said.

'We're pleased to be partnering with the City of Sydney to deliver this exciting program.'

Calendar of VEP Events

Event: 'Me, Myself and AI' fireside chat with Liesl Yearsley

Date: Thursday 17 May, 6pm-7.30pm

Description: Liesl Yearsley knows Artificial Intelligence. Along her entrepreneurial journey from Central Africa to Sydney, she's founded 3 successful AI startups. Join their dynamic discussion around the future of AI and its moral impact; find out what it looks like now and what needs to change.

Location: Cicada Innovations, 4 Cornwallis Street, Eveleigh

Tickets: Free

Event: CityTalks Sydney: Democratising technology - Jim McKelvey on the Square revolution

Date: Tuesday 22 May, 6.30pm-8pm

Description: At this CityTalks Sydney, hear Jim McKelvey discuss the role of the consumer and the implications of greater participation in technological development. He'll be joined by a panel of tech leaders to examine the local and global effects of democratising technology.

Location: Lower Town Hall, 483 George Street, Sydney

Tickets: Free

Event: Technology for Social Good with Stephanie Hannon

Date: Monday 4 June, 6pm-8pm

Description: This discussion delves into technology's potential to tackle global social problems and shape an inclusive future. It will also uncover the people and powers pushing this innovation.

Location: Museum of Contemporary Art, 140 George Street, The Rocks

Tickets: Free

Event: Workshop: Introduction to Product Management

Date: Tuesday 5 June, 9am-11am

Description: This workshop is for anyone who wants an introduction to best practice for product management with a focus on Stephanie Hannon's broad expertise in building products, online communities and local activation.

Location: University of Sydney, Business School, 133 Castlereagh Street, Sydney

Tickets: $25pp

Event: Resilience - What I learnt from failure with Stephanie Hannon

Date: Wednesday 6 June, 6pm-8pm

Description: At this fireside chat, Stephanie Hannon will share her learnings from Google Wave (before it crashed), the Strava heatmap crisis in Afghanistan and one of the most highly publicised losses of 2016 - the Hillary for America presidential campaign.

Location: Sydney School of Entrepreneurship, Building J, 651-731 Harris Street, Ultimo

Tickets: Free

Event: Fitness & Tracking Meetup with Stephanie Hannon

Date: Thursday 7 June, 6pm-8pm

Description: A chance for fitness, tracking and community platform startups and professionals to connect with Stephanie Hannon, Chief Product Officer of Strava - home to the largest online community of athletes, with millions of runners, cyclists and triathletes united by the camaraderie of sport.

Location: Haymarket HQ, 2/63 Dixon St, Haymarket

Tickets: Free

Event: Workshop: Advanced Product Management

Date: Friday 8 June, 9am-11am

Description: In this advanced workshop Stephanie Hannon will work through real-life examples with a focus on practical problem solving. This is a chance to discuss your current product development challenges in an intimate setting.

Location: Sydney Startup Hub, 11-31 York Street, Sydney

Tickets: $25pp

For all VEP event information and bookings, visit

For media enquiries or images, contact Belinda Wallis, please phone mobile 0467 810 160 or email [email protected]

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, please contact Matthew Levinson. Phone 0499 319 385 or email [email protected]