Foundation for the WA Museum launches Ngalang Koort Conversations

15 Sep 2023

Supported by Founding Partner Wesfarmers, the Foundation for the WA Museum has created Ngalang Koort Conversations, a new lecture series, where acclaimed international speakers will explore topics of global importance. The renowned philosopher A. C. Grayling has been confirmed as the inaugural speaker of the series, and will explore the question Will AI be humankind’s ‘last invention’ in a conversation with Robyn Owens, a mathematician and pioneering computational vision scientist, on 15 November 2023.   

As a Founding Partner of the Foundation for the WA Museum, Wesfarmers will support the Ngalang Koort Conversations series until 2030, with acclaimed speakers aimed at engaging the Western Australian community in conversations with world leading thinkers on topics of global interest and significance. The series will see keynote Conversations with high-profile international guests take place bi-annually, exploring topics of global importance. The Foundation may also present local or national speakers at other times, who contribute additional viewpoints to the Conversation.

The conversation series will be focused on five broad themes – humanity, truth, enterprise, challenge and justice – and allow for a wide range of conversation topics.

Michael Chaney, Chair of Wesfarmers, stated, ‘Wesfarmers is delighted to be a Founding Partner of WA Museum Boola Bardip and to be presenting the Ngalang Koort Conversations. We know that ideas-driven, creative, educationally-engaged communities are more agile, inclusive and innovative – and ultimately, better prepared to harness the possibilities and face the challenges our future holds. I hope the Ngalang Koort Conversations will play their part in connecting our community and stimulating discussions that help shape the future of our State.”

Coralie Bishop, CEO of the Foundation for the WA Museum, commented “Conversations are at the heart of human connection, and have immense power. At their best, conversations can harness and create wisdom, and affect change for the better. The WA Museum recognises this and aims to be a safe space for important conversations. The support of our Founding Partner Wesfarmers makes it possible to curate this new series that allows us to engage in important conversations about topics that are central to our existence and future, right here in Western Australia.”

On 15 November, the first Ngalang Koort Conversations speaker, A. C. Grayling, will explore the topic Will AI be humankind’s ‘last invention’? in conversation with Robyn Owens, a mathematician and pioneering computational vision scientist.

The conversation, followed by a Q&A session, will be held at Hackett Hall, WA Museum Boola Bardip. Tickets will be available for sale to the general public on 18 September via WA Museum.


About Professor A.C. Grayling CBE MA DPhil (Oxon) FRSA FRSL

Professor A. C. Grayling CBE MA DPhil (Oxon) FRSA FRSL is the Principal of Northeastern University London, and its Professor of Philosophy. He is also a Supernumerary Fellow of St Anne’s College, Oxford.

He is the author of over thirty books of philosophy, biography, history of ideas, and essays. He was for a number of years a columnist on The Guardian, The Times, and Prospect Magazine. He has contributed to many leading newspapers in the UK, US and Australia, and to BBC radios 4, 3 and the World Service, for which he did the annual ‘Exchanges at the Frontier’ series; and he has often appeared on television.

He has twice been a judge on the Booker Prize, in 2014 serving as the Chair of the judging panel. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a Vice President of Humanists UK, Patron of the Defence Humanists, Honorary Associate of the Secular Society, and a Patron of Dignity in Dying.


About Professor Robyn Owens AM FAA FTSE

Robyn Owens is Professor Emerita in the Australian university sector and the former Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) of the University of Western Australia and current Deputy Chancellor, Murdoch University. She has over 30-years’ experience working as a teacher, researcher and university leader, focusing on strategy and national policy. Robyn was trained in mathematics at the University of Western Australia (UWA), Oxford and the University of Paris. Her research was primarily in computer vision, where she contributed to both theoretical and applied aspects of feature recognition in images and image understanding.

Her work has been acknowledged with several national and international awards, including the 2010 UK Rank Prize. Robyn is an elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering, and the Australian Computer Society. In 2023, she was recognised for her significant service to science in the fields of computer vision and mathematics by receiving an Order of Australia (AM) in the 2023 King’s Birthday Honours List.


About Wesfarmers

Wesfarmers is a Founding Partner of the WA Museum, and is the Naming Rights Partner of the Ngalang Koort Boodja Wirn Gallery at WA Museum Boola Bardip, which provides insight into the strength and diversity of Aboriginal culture. Wesfarmers’ Founding Partnership contributes to the Foundation’s Discovery Endowment Fund, supporting the WA Museum’s cultural, social and scientific impact.

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