2023 Pintxos of Science – Brains & Bites

On Thursday 17th August 2023, SRAP organised another Pintxos of Science event as part of the 2023 Australia National Science Week at the Gure Txoko Basque Club Sydney (344 Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010).

With the title of Brains & Bites, 2023 Pintxos of Science invited the audience to discover the profound impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on our daily lives, with a special focus on its transformative role in education. The event also aimed to witness how AI empowers educators through personalized and adaptive learning, enabling them to assess students, design flexible learning plans, and provide invaluable support tools. We also looked for engaging the audience in enlightening discussions, where experts will delve into the challenges and debates surrounding the implementation of AI in education. In summary, we invited participants to be part of the conversation and shared their unique perspective on this fascinating topic.

Thanking Mikki’s Paella for their delicious pintxos. From left to right: Dr José-Miguel Bello Villarino, Dr Ana Rubio, Mikki’s Paella, Assoc. Prof. Alex Sen Gupta.

The event was well attended with close to 45 participants, with two key speakers who talked about the importance of Artificial Intelligence on our daily lives, with a special focus on its transformative role in education.

Full house at the Gure Txoko.

The first speaker was Dr José-Miguel Bello Villarino, SRAP member and Research Fellow, Law School, University of Sydney and the Institutions programme of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S). José-Miguel spoke about the importance of Artificial Intelligence regulation to achieve positive outcomes and mitigate the potential harms that Artificial Intelligence could bring. See below Dr José-Miguel Bello Villarino‘s bio and abstract of this talk.

Dr Jose-Miguel Bello Villarino, SRAP member, giving his talk on AI education and policy.

The second speaker was Associate Professor Alex Sen Gupta from Climate Change Research Center, University of NSW who showed some of the incredible capabilities that ChatGPT offers in the concept of education and warn that the exponential increase in power of these tools makes it impossible to predict the future effects. See below Associate Professor Alex Sen Gupta‘s bio and abstract of this talk.

Assoc. Prof Alex Sen Gupta explaining the various uses of ChatGPT in education.

There was a lively discussion with the audience. This is clearly a topic in which there is lots of interest.

Our two speakers ready to enjoy Mikki’s Paella Pintxos after their talks.

The event ended with delicious pintxos from Mikki’s Paella which is part of Eat Spanish. and more informal conversations about Artificial Intelligence.


Details of the speakers, abstracts of the talks, and moderator


Dr Jose-Miguel Bello Villarino, Research Fellow, Law School, University of Sydney and the Institutions programme of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S)

Jose-Miguel is a member of the Diplomatic Corps of Spain (on leave) and previously worked in different capacities for the European Union. He was the co-winner of the 2022 Scotiabank Global AI+Regulation Emerging Scholar Award and in 2021 he was a Fulbright-Schuman scholar at the Harvard Law School. His current research focuses on regulatory approaches to ADM and Artificial Intelligence (AI), particularly on how different jurisdictions are trying to deal with risks derived from the operation of AI systems.

Title of presentation: ‘PintxosChat

Large Language Models (LLMs), foundational models, general purpose models, generative artificial intelligence… words thrown around (and rage in the media and governments) because in late 2022 one company (OpenAI) found a way of making generative AI accessible to people. With ChatGPT, artificial Intelligence became a thing we can use, and not just something that happens behind a computer. What is less known is that GPT-3.5, the large language model behind ChatGPT, had to be educated to work in a way that humans liked. Many hours of (very human) labour went into what is called “reinforcement learning from human feedback (RLHF)”. This converted a system that was just trained to predict the next word on a large dataset of Internet text, into something that (generally) safely performs the language task that we want. Now that we have this (and it is likely to keep improving), how can we use it to educate humans back, and what does this mean for education policy?

Associate Professor Alexander Sen Gupta, Climate Change Research Center, University of NSW

Alex is a climate scientist and physical oceanographer at the Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales; he is also a chief investigator at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Antarctic Science. His work revolves around how the ocean affects the climate system (e.g. the impacts of El Niño/La Niña on regional conditions or ecosystems) and the effect of anthropogenic climate change on ocean currents and temperatures and how this effects the critters in the ocean. He teaches both undergrad and postgrad students, so has been on the front line of the challenges around how to respond to chatGPT and other generative AI in education.

Title of presentation: ‘Will ChatGPT turn our brains to mush?

At the start of 2023 Open AI released ChatGPT, a chatbot that can answer questions and make up stories like a human. This sent schools and universities into a frenzy: how are we going to deal with systems that make cheating trivial and can often produce answers that are better than the average student but may also provide responses that are completely wrong? The panic was somewhat overblown, at least for undergraduate teaching, as the uptake of AI has been slower than expected. But this doesn’t mean that major changes aren’t on the horizon. A few months later the new chatGPT has been radically improved, passing the US Bar exam with a score of 90%. It has proven to be an impressive research tool, with the ability to code in multiple languages, recommend and explain analysis techniques, summarise and compare academic papers and even suggest hypotheses. Postgraduate students and researchers are concerned about how this will affect their research and future jobs and if and how they should be using AI.

As a climate scientist, not an AI researcher, my aim is to foster a discussion on the pros and cons of AI in education and how to engage with AI so it makes us smarter and more productive and not stupid and obsolete.

(This abstract was mostly written by a human!)


Dr Ana Rubio is a member of the Spanish Researchers in Australia-Pacific. She is an environmental scientist with 15 years of operational and management experience in Coastal Natural Resource Management with an emphasis on marine aquaculture. The role of AI is increasing in her field helping inform decisions on coastal management strategies. She is passionate about the topic and thought.

Event organised by SRAP in collaboration with Gure Txoko Sydney.

Catering will be offered by Mikki’s Paella which is part of Eat Spanish.

Event supported by the Instituto Cervantes Sydney and the Spanish Embassy in Australia.

Ana Rubio Zuazo

About Ana Rubio Zuazo

I have 15 years of operational and management experience in Coastal NRM with an emphasis on marine aquaculture. My research revolves around marine ecology and aquaculture, in particular in relation to the cultivation of oysters. Most of my research focuses on the Sydney Rock Oyster and the Pacific Oysters. A number of projects that I am currently involved in are included in this industry website: http://www.southcoastoysterindustry.com.au/ • Coastal Natural Resource Management projects • Monitoring and response to Harmful Algal Blooms • Designing, conducting, statistical analysis and reporting of ecological and water quality data • Design, development and implementation of environmental and aquaculture-based research projects: design of state-wide oyster monitoring programs, disease investigations; production • Aquaculture advisor • Twenty years of experience in project management of aquatic monitoring programs • Calibration, set-up and deployment of water quality instrumentation • Extensive experience in field work (remote sites, off-boat sampling, benthic sampling, water quality monitoring, SCUBA assessments) • GIS, Modelling, reporting, web-portal design, education packages