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AI Renaissance: AI Hub Launch Sparks Future Brilliance

In a bid to foster AI-literacy in the region, Townsville’s new AI Hub is set to redefine the city’s tech landscape.

Led by Dr Dianna Hardy, a software developer and researcher at James Cook University, the Townsville Hub is the newest of six regional chapters that have been established state-wide, operating within the framework of the Queensland AI Hub.

Launched in November 2023, the opening of the Townsville Hub brought together industry representatives, experts, governmental agencies, and local businesses for a panel discussion on AI’s future potential in the region.

“The Queensland AI Hub was established in Brisbane in 2020, with the goal of accelerating AI adoption and capability, and supporting job creation and economic growth,” says Dianna, who is also the Director of the Townsville chapter.

Dr Dianna Hardy standing behind lectern, giving speech at Townsville AI Hub launch

November 2023

BDmag
Dr Dianna Hardy at the AI Hub launch

“Just over a year ago, they began opening regional chapters across the state to connect and grow Queensland’s AI community.

“We were successful in putting Townsville forward as one of the locations for a chapter and have been overwhelmed by the interest and the support from local business and other key representatives.”

In partnership with Smart Precinct NQ and DakTech, the Hub will be delivering a series of educational and social events tailored to support local businesses in adopting and integrating AI into their operations.

Dianna says they are catering for all knowledge- levels and sectors, including students, early-stage start-ups, industry professionals and small to medium businesses.

“This year, we will be holding networking events, information nights, and hands-on workshops, where businesses will be able to learn from those already using AI in their daily operations,” continues Dianna.

“Our first hands-on workshop in January will be focused on ChatGPT prompt engineering and ways businesses can harness it to help with daily tasks.

“The launch of ChatGPT has really opened people’s eyes to the potential of AI in streamlining processes and has been great in helping people remain open-minded.

“Our job now is to show businesses how they can actually implement AI and use it in a way that is going to help them.”

Dianna notes an increasing willingness among businesses in Townsville to embrace AI-based solutions, a trend that the Hub is eager to continue facilitating and propelling forward.

“There is a lot more interest in using AI for business purposes,” says Dianna.

“If you’re a small business, you might just have yourself or a handful of people working for you. In that instance, AI can be harnessed to help support the business and relieve some of that workload.

“Whether that be prompts for copywriting, website design, or coding; the options are endless.

“We are also focused on upskilling the general Townsville population so more people understand the positive impact AI can have on the workforce and the economy.”

Dianna hopes the Hub will help in retaining local talent in the region whilst alleviating any fears surrounding AI adoption.

“There has always been an issue getting IT talent here in Townsville,” notes Dianna. “Although we have the university, many graduates go off to Brisbane. When I taught IT, that’s where many of my students went.

“If we can foster AI education and adoption here, it gives more opportunities to retain local talent.

“This is simply another form of technology. Just like we all had to become computer-literate, we are now at a stage where AI-literacy is essential.”

Townsville's AI Hub Launch panel discussion in November 2023.
Townsville’s AI Hub Launch November 2023

Images: All images supplied

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Georgie Desailly

Georgie Desailly

Georgie is BDmag’s resident writer who is passionate about entrepreneurship, sustainability and regional affairs. She spent time studying in New York City where she was trained by some of the world's leading journalists at The School of the New York Times.
Georgie Desailly

Georgie Desailly

Georgie is BDmag’s resident writer who is passionate about entrepreneurship, sustainability and regional affairs. She spent time studying in New York City where she was trained by some of the world's leading journalists at The School of the New York Times.