Women Economic Forum (WEF) Perth, 5 July - 7 July 2019

Women Economic Forum (WEF) Perth, 5 July - 7 July 2019

For the first time, the Women Economic Forum (WEF) is being held in Australia, in Perth from 5th -7th July. The theme is "Empowering Women: Making a Difference". Marie will be speaking on the digital human cardiac coach for women's health, and the 4th Industrial Revolution (although in Marie’s view, what’s coming is the 1st humanitarian revolution).


2015: Marie Meets Sir Tim Berners-Lee at W3C MIT to Discuss the Human Accessible Web...and Intelligent Avatars

In September 2015, together with colleagues, I spent a day with Sir Tim Berners-Lee and his team at W3C MIT to discuss the concept of an intelligent avatar (soon after to be called “Nadia”) and augmentative interfaces I had written about in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) business case, as part of a human rights led innovation and co-design effort with people with disability. I was extremely interested in Sir Tim’s view on the future of the web and it was phenomenal spending time with him in detailed discussions on his work on the human accessible web.

I started the work on Nadia, the world’s first AI digital human for service delivery, as a human rights issue – well before any of the technology was brought together.

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability is remarkable drafting. It calls out the right of freedom of expression and access to information...by accepting and facilitating “augmentative and alternative communication”…so that people with disability can “receive and impart information and ideas on an equal basis...”

It seems to me that we haven’t got this right. And over the decades, in government and elsewhere, much of our community is under-served and effectively excluded, not because of their own capabilities, but because the industrialised and rationed model doesn’t accommodate the individual and their human rights.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee advocates for web neutrality and design universality of access, saying: “The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect.”

It is also significant that the objectives of W3C (web accessibility) and the Convention (human rights) align with the W3C saying: “The Web is fundamentally designed to work for all people, whatever their hardware, software, language, culture, location, or physical or mental activity.  When the web meets this goal, it is accessible to people with a diverse range of hearing, movement, sight, and cognitive ability.”

The Research and Development Working Group at the W3C further state that to improve the experience of digital interfaces, the interface should be able to dynamically change to suit the person’s needs or preferences. This requires a new type of interface – such as an interface that works like a person. This was what was achieved with Nadia.

And it is important to understand that the legacy of Nadia is not about the technology, but about the deep inclusive practice of co-design and co-creation. That is, for the first time, codifying the embodiment of a human-like system to achieve a cognitive connection and rapport. The digital human concept was co-designed and driven by people with disability inclusive of people with intellectual disability. Where AI differs from previous technology shifts and accessibility innovations, is that it exponentially changes outcomes and directions in human endeavour.

So as digital humans become a commonplace familiar face for dealing with government, in health care and other domains, reflect on where this started. Nadia – co-designed and driven by the most marginalised in our community and disability entrepreneurs who have had to navigate the world differently – is bringing about a level playing field for all.

And yet again, the world owes a debt of gratitude to Sir Tim Berners-Lee for taking the time to share his thoughts and listen to a concept born out of the imagination of people with disability.

Marie with Sir Tim Berners-Lee at W3C MIT

Marie with Sir Tim Berners-Lee at W3C MIT

“Putting a Face onto AI: Get Ready for the Digital Human Workforce.”

Marie presented at the O’Reilly AI Conference London October 2018.

Watch the presentation: “Putting a Face onto AI: After Nadia, Get Ready for the Digital Human Workforce.”


Are we seeing the 1st Humanitarian Revolution where “workforce” # “work” + “force”? Where the ethics of opportunity will force a shift away from the one size fits nobody. Marie talks about AI, human rights, ethics, digital human cardiac coach, digital human reading coach, and emerging economic and social ecosystems. Democratised access where the gatekeepers of literacy, power and privilege are removed

Why artificial intelligence is a human right

Why artificial intelligence is a human right.

And how these rights drive breakthroughs in innovation through co-design.

Author Marie Johnson

Published 27 June 2018 on CIO Australia

2018 is a monumental year regarding human rights; it’s the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a remarkable document to be read in conjunction with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This year also marks the Convention’s 10th anniversary.

As the artificial intelligence (AI) era inexorably unfolds across every dimension of our life, the principles enshrined in these two human rights documents can steer this great innovation in a direction that will benefit all humanity.