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Hackathon capitalizes on ChatGPT's quick ascent

 Hackathon capitalizes on ChatGPT's quick ascent

Sydney recently held its inaugural AI hackathon post-Covid, gathering 100 participants for a weekend-long event focused on creating innovative products and addressing challenges using ChatGPT's AI technology.


The technology landscape has undergone significant changes since the advent of Covid-19. The introduction of ChatGPT in November has had a substantial impact, overshadowing the hype previously associated with emerging technologies such as blockchain and Web3. Murray Hurps, the director of entrepreneurship at UTS, remarked on the decline of hackathons in recent years, attributing it partly to the negative consequences of the pandemic. While hackathons used to be prevalent a decade ago, their frequency and popularity suffered due to the challenges posed by the global health crisis.


Hackathons have a long and storied history in the field of technology. These events have proven to be fertile grounds for the generation of groundbreaking ideas and have even birthed multimillion-dollar ventures. One of the core principles of hackathons is to bring together individuals possessing diverse skills, ranging from technical expertise to creative thinking. By facilitating collaboration and innovation, hackathons have consistently served as catalysts for the development of transformative projects and solutions. These events provide a platform for participants to showcase their ideas, collaborate with like-minded individuals, and create prototypes or products within a limited timeframe. The collaborative and competitive nature of hackathons fosters an environment conducive to pushing the boundaries of technology and realizing novel concepts.


The recent hackathon, organized by the Data Science and AI Association of Australia, received strong support from prominent organizations such as Microsoft and the City of Sydney. These esteemed partners recognized the importance of the event and its potential to foster innovation in the fields of data science and artificial intelligence. The backing of such influential entities not only provided financial support but also demonstrated their commitment to promoting technological advancements and supporting the growth of the AI community. Their involvement underscored the significance of the hackathon and highlighted the collaborative efforts of industry leaders, academia, and government bodies in driving forward technological innovation in Australia.


Due to overwhelming interest and a limited capacity, the event organizers were faced with the challenge of accommodating a large number of applicants for the hackathon. Unfortunately, despite their efforts, they were unable to accommodate all of the nearly 200 applicants. As a result, they had to make the difficult decision to cut down the headcount to 100 participants. This decision was made in order to ensure the smooth operation of the event and maintain a manageable number of participants. While it may have been disappointing for some applicants, the organizers had to prioritize the logistics and resources available to provide the best experience for the selected participants.




Allya Syahrudi, a professional working in disability services, and her team developed a product that aimed to serve as a comprehensive solution for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). This product, which she described as a "one-stop shop," was designed to assist individuals throughout the entire NDIS journey, from the initial application process to providing support even after being rejected or when seeking additional funding following removal. Additionally, the product aimed to simplify plan reviews, making the process more accessible and efficient. The goal of their innovative solution was to streamline and enhance the NDIS experience for participants, offering a range of services and support in a centralized platform.


In addition to Allya Syahrudi's project, another member of the team, data scientist Thomas Rademaker, showcased a chatbot that provided responses to inquiries about NDIS programs and eligibility criteria. The chatbot's functionality included the ability to download relevant forms from the NDIS website and utilize PDF integration to automatically fill out the forms based on user input. This feature aimed to simplify the application process and streamline the necessary paperwork.


Bijil Subhash, another teammate, highlighted the potential of their solution to automate form filling and improve the overall user experience. The integration of AI technology, such as the chatbot and form automation, showcased the team's innovative approach to addressing challenges within the NDIS ecosystem.


Baker Tamory, a senior data and AI specialist from Microsoft who served as one of the hackathon judges, recognized the significance of events like this in fostering AI development. He described hackathons as potential "incubators" for nurturing innovative AI solutions, highlighting the valuable role they play in pushing the boundaries of technology and driving progress in various fields.


Baker Tamory's statement highlights the concerns around data sovereignty and privacy that can hinder the adoption of AI solutions in Australia. Strict data privacy laws and a general sense of apprehension about data usage and access can sometimes impede the full potential of Australian innovation in the AI space. However, events like the hackathon mentioned have the potential to challenge these concerns and break stereotypes by showcasing the positive impact AI can have on various domains.


Meanwhile, at another desk, a team was working on a project focused on curating Spotify playlists based on complex text prompts. Manoela Cardoso, a communication strategist with no programming background, was involved in the project and working on a slide show to present their product. Despite not fully understanding the technical aspects of her teammates' discussions, her contribution as a communication strategist is crucial in effectively presenting the project's ideas and value to the audience. This highlights the interdisciplinary nature of hackathons, where diverse skills and perspectives come together to create innovative solutions.