Practical Bravery: DR ALEX CONNOCK



In this episode of The Possibility Club, we delve into the fabric of this modern narrative. The script is changing, the actors are evolving, and the stage is expanding. It’s a realm where algorithms are the new editors, and data, the ink. Yet, amidst this digital choreography, where does the human touch reside? And more so, where is it headed?
Author of ‘The Media Business and Artificial Intelligence,’ our guest’s writings are more than just a dalliance with theories, they are a deep dive into the interplay between AI and media. His academic roles at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, the Said Business School and at the National Film and Television School, look under the bonnet of the business of arts, culture, tech and entertainment.
His current roles at UNICEF UK and The Halle Orchestra symbolise a narrative that looks beyond commercial metrics, but one serious about social change.
How can we all navigate the expanse of media, technology, and social impact, maintaining a useful dance between ethics and innovation, between tradition and disruption?
In this episode of The Possibility Club, Richard Freeman would like you to meet Dr Alex Connock.

Key quotes:

“An AI person could probably do a facsimile of your voice, and your video, and possibly imitate you. So is any of us really ‘inimitable’ anymore, even if we aspire to be?”

“On one level you’re talking about these prosaic things, this new tool’s launched, or this bit of machine learning does this, fairly mundane software stuff, and on the other hand you’re talking about these really big philosophical issues, like what is creativity? What is copyright? What is consciousness? What is network? And to marry those two things together every day is genuinely fascinating and a privilege.”

“I specialise in the media business and A.I. — and what a subject it is, in 2023!”

“The Great British export is probably cultural capital. It is things like AI and the creative industries. I think the government is very alive to this now. Of the value of our intellectual property.”

“Britain cherishes its academic leadership now more than it did say twenty years ago, there’s less of this nonsense about they’re all in ivory towers and they all just wear tweed jackets and all that, I don’t see that on either side of the equation.”

“We’re good at ideation, we’re good at musicians, we’re good at AI ideas, perhaps we’re not as good as we should be about scaling them up.”

“That’s why I always hated the TV show The Apprentice. To anyone who’s worked in business, the paradigm of success on The Apprentice is the quintessentially the opposite of what you actually have to do to succeed in business.” 

“For all the dystopian headlines, every day in my newsfeed, five or ten things come in where I think wow, that’s a completely new way of looking at things. In AI that’s particularly true.”

“The only way to really mitigate whether people are using ChatGPT is either to sit them down in an examination hall like in the sixteenth century and make them write by hand, or actually talk to them.”

“In general academics tend to be quite student-shy and try to find lots of reasons not to talk to students, and in fact now the best way to test students is going to be a viva, like in the old school, which is great.” 

This episode was recorded in May 2023

Interviewer: Richard Freeman for always possible

Editor: CJ Thorpe-Tracey for Lo Fi Arts


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