Former Facebook CEO calls for ‘ethical AI’ focus at Unpacked event roadshow

stephen scheeler talks ai

Stephen Scheeler, former CEO for Australia and New Zealand at Facebook and co-founder of a leading AI company, has called for a fresh look into ethical AI practices while headlining our national Australian business event roadshow. 

Speaking at our Unpacked event roadshow in Adelaide, Stephen, now CEO of Omniscient, explored the current state of AI, unveiling its evolving landscape and potential in front of an audience of businesses and travel industry leaders. This comes just months after the Federal Government initiated a $17 million AI program to bolster Australian businesses.

Our Unpacked event roadshow with Stephen as keynote speaker was rolled out from 15-29 May across Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, and Melbourne.

The event connects industry leaders, travel agents, and businesses that travel to gain corporate insights from leading speakers and experts – with this specific series focusing on value-add and savings for our customers. 
During his exclusive presentation, Stephen revealed that AI currently falls well short of alignment with human values on standardised ethical scores. He said that while AI promises significant advancements in business travel, the ongoing debate about its ability to augment or replace human roles must persist. 
Stephen called for a stronger focus on ethical AI research to bridge existing gaps, stressing that the business travel sector must adhere to ethical standards when integrating new technologies. He pointed out that 26 per cent of customer contact automation is now managed by AI, though moral alignment remains inconsistent. 
“Throughout my tenure at the helm of tech-focused companies, I’ve learned that while technology is invaluable, so too is the human element," Stephen remarked during an exclusive interview with Corporate Traveller. “AI offers vast opportunities for businesses to grow, but building trust in its application is crucial.” 
He also discussed research from Ipsos showing that 57 per cent of people globally believe AI will alter their job roles within five years, with 36 per cent fearing job replacement by AI in the same period.

stephen scheeler unpacked event series
“Throughout my tenure at the helm of tech-focused companies, I’ve learned that while technology is invaluable, so too is the human element... AI offers vast opportunities for businesses to grow, but building trust in its application is crucial,” Stephen remarked

Despite these statistics, Stephen believes AI holds boundless potential to enhance employee productivity through task automation, improved workflows, better communication, and innovation. 
“Continuous innovation and responsible development are essential to ensure AI systems are up to the challenge of real-world applications,” Stephen added. “AI’s journey to maturity is key to its acceptance and effective integration into daily life and various industries.” 
Tom Walley, Managing Director, also advocated for responsible AI integration, highlighting the company’s success in augmenting concierge services without replacing human travel consultants. 
“The right mix of people and technology is crucial for success within the travel industry. We have that exact blended approach proudly woven into the very fabric of our business,” Mr Walley said.  
“AI can enhance performance and service delivery response times by accelerating complex decision-making processes.  
“For instance, we have prioritised our investment in AI fuelled process automation, which has already delivered significant productivity gains, and enabled our travel consultants to focus even more on delivering outcomes that matter most for our customers.  
“Further to that, we set up an ‘AI Centre of Excellence’ globally back in November designed to strategically harness the power of AI to revolutionise our flagship corporate businesses, by enriching customer experiences, boosting employee productivity, and more.” 
Our Unpacked series offers customers travel insights and hacks through webinars and in-person events; and its regular market research uncovers business travel behaviours and needs to help businesses make informed decisions around travel, meetings and events. 

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