The 7th annual conference of the Society of Construction Law, “Best Enjoyed in 2030…The Future of the Construction Professions,” was held this August in the Hunter Valley. Aptly named for the famous wine growing region in which it was held, the conference focused on a changing construction industry; and in particular, the impact of Artificial Intelligence in our modern world.
As technological developments such as AIs begin to shape the construction industry, the 2018 conference explored new avenues for change as a means of achieving industry outcomes. The conference provided an opportunity for leaders in construction to look forward and “bravely face the future.”
The conference was held to address some pressing concerns for the construction industry, such as the immediate challenges being faced, whether the industry will survive an AI revolution, and whether it would be best to deploy tried-and-true methods or new and cutting edge technologies. A particularly resounding issue was the question of how this wisened industry might maintain a balance between the vantage point of hindsight and new world principles.
Among the presenters, keynote speaker Tim Urban delved into the topic of AIs, sharing a wealth of knowledge accrued from years of blogging on the subject. His blog, Wait But Why, has over 600,000 subscribers, an average of 1 million visitors every month, and counts Elon Musk among its readers.
John Sharkey, independent arbitrator and mediator in the field of major commercial disputes, was another highlight among the conference’s speakers. Having worked in the construction, engineering and energy sectors, Sharkey was made a member of the Order of Australia in 2016 and won the inaugural Lawyers’ Weekly Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. Sharkey discussed his recent paper, “Australian Rules: A Survey of the High Court of Australia on Construction Law 1965-2016.”
Other conference speakers included the Honourable Robert Brooking AO SC and the Honourable Peter Vickery QC. At the close of the conference, guests and speakers took advantage of their luscious Hunter Valley setting to enjoy a Gala dinner with wine at Muse, a fine dining establishment with two chef hats.
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