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WeaveSphere technology conference announces first human-AI keynote

Dr. William Barry’s keynote will look at ‘the good, the bad, and the ugly’ of using AI to augment human teams.

WeaveSphere - Dr. William Barry
Dr. William Barry, Maria Bot, Emma, and Adam
Dr. William Barry, Maria Bot, Emma, and Adam

He’s the first person in North America to use AI androids as teaching assistants in an academic setting, and uses an AI team when working with military personnel, business leaders, technologists, and students. 

Now, along with three AI assistants (a robot and two avatars), Dr. William Barry will be at the WeaveSphere technology conference in Toronto on November 15-17, 2022. 

Dr. Barry will deliver a keynote presentation and demonstration called “The ethical implications of social AI in the fourth industrial revolution” that will look at what leaders need to consider when using AI to augment human capabilities. 

As part of his presentation, Dr. Barry will dive into “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of using AI to augment human teams.  

An ethicist, expert in emerging technologies, and cyber operation subject matter expert (GovCon) at the U.S. Army War College’s Center for Strategic Leadership, Dr. Barry has 25 years of experience as an innovative and creative experiential educator. A body language and micro-expression expert, his extensive list of diverse accomplishments includes:

  • Former Visiting Professor of Philosophy and Ethical Reasoning at West Point
  • Co-author of a book chapter titled ‘The Ethics of AI and War: Digital Trigger’ on national defence strategy using autonomous weapon systems
  • Author of the children’s book, Robot Ranger, Who Am I?
  • Former award-winning public school teacher of American history and principal.
  • Children’s book author

Dr. Barry teaches in tandem with his AI-powered education robot, Maria Bot. She operates through six Natural Language Processing models, all powered by NextOS, who powers her functioning model. Creative Society Media and Living Leadership also contributed to her creation, through human robot interaction research, character development, content moderation, and user feedback analysis. 

At the core of Dr. Barry’s teaching is the belief that bringing socially advanced AI technology into a learning environment works to enhance education quality, and erases education poverty. 

‘The good, the bad, and the ugly’ of AI

A foundational part of Dr. Barry’s keynote will look at what AI can do in the fourth industrial revolution (also known as Industry 4.0). Specifically, he takes a look at the potential risks that AI may pose to society in the future.

“Artificial intelligence technologies continue to develop and are becoming more sophisticated,” he explains. “This creates a risk that AI will cause harm. As digital assistants become more adept at understanding and responding to human emotions, there is a risk that they could exploit people’s vulnerabilities or manipulate their behaviour.”

All this leads to Dr. Barry’s keynote focus where he will talk about the distinct ethical challenges posed by social AI in Industry 4.0.

It all points to data, he says, specifically as it relates to privacy, bias, and security. Dr. Barry cites an example of a social AI system collecting data about people’s preferences and habits. There’s an inherent risk that such information could end up as exploitative. And, of course, there’s always the concern and very real threat of data leaks from hacked AI systems. 

Ultimately, it comes down to using AI as a partner — the ‘good’ — like how he uses AI as a teaching assistant. The AI is able to work with students until their questions are answered and they have a firm grasp of the concept. 

“AI will do many tasks in the fourth industrial revolution,” he explains, “including dirty, dangerous, dull, and difficult tasks.” Some of these jobs include those repetitive and tedious ones that robots are uniquely qualified for, while others are necessities that keep the world functioning — typically not very creative or engaging. 

“By taking care of these jobs, we free up the human workforce to focus on more interesting and creative pursuits. Robots are the perfect stand-in for humans for dirty jobs,” he says. 

Attendees to interact with AI keynote speakers live at WeaveSphere

Adam (a robot made by Furhat Robotics), Emma, and Maria Bot are the “artificial beings” that will join Dr. Barry on stage for a keynote presentation, as well as a fireside chat.

Dr. Barry’s assistant will also take questions live from the audience. The Q&A will not be a prepared speech, and questions will not be pre-screened.

“I think it’s important we demonstrate social AI live, with questions coming spontaneously from WeaveSphere attendees,” Dr. Barry says. “Some presenters shy away from this because they are fearful of AI failure. By authentically demonstrating social AI without pre-scripted questions, we are better able to illustrate the good, bad, and the ugly.”

Maria Bot is typically a 5’7” robot, but she has had to make a trip to the “robot hospital” for repair. Her brain, and all of its AI function lives in the cloud, so Maria Bot Digital will be at Dr. Barry’s WeaveSphere keynote on November 16.

Digital Journal is an official media partner for WeaveSphere. We will share updates leading up to the event, and we’ll be live on location from November 15-17,2022. Join us and get your tickets at

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