Communicating, connecting, and caring in a technologised world.

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Communicating, connecting, and caring in a technologised world.

We shape our brains constantly all through our lives.

How do we do this? How do we shape each other?

How does technology shape us? And how should we shape technology?

Dr Fiona Kerr is investigating these questions, and more, as she engages with business leaders, policy-makers, engineers, scientists, and thought leaders in a quest to maintain human connection, leverage the transformative power to technology and create quality interaction and partnerships between humans and technologies.

She does this because she has always been amazed by the neurophysiological impact that humans have on each other, and the power of direct human engagement to change how we think, feel, connect and flourish. She is fascinated by the way that direct engagement allows us to rewire ourselves and each other, by building new brain, a process called neurogenesis.

She has also been involved, throughout her thirty years in industry, in the adoption of new technologies, and has witnessed how they impact human interaction, our lives and our societies.

While technology has transformed our everyday lives and our society in many positive ways, the transformative capacity of human interaction is equally profound, and equally important in shaping our future. So how do we harness the capacity of human thought and interaction, and shape technology, to ensure a human-centric future?

Scientist & Researcher

Do you want a robot to hold your hand when you die? Or do you want a human? Why?

The development of the technology that may make this a reality raises many interesting technical questions, but there are other relevant questions that are not being sufficiently explored. Apart from the moral and ethical considerations, what is the difference between a robot and a human carer – is a human more beneficial? What happens in our brains and bodies when we interact with other humans? How does this positively affect our immune systems, or our capacity for complex decision making and trust? And does this change when we interact with or through technology? Once we begin to include the science of human neurophysiology, what does it mean for AI and our relationship with it?

These questions are at the centre of Dr Kerr’s work as a scientist and academic researcher. As the Industry Professor, Neural and Systems Complexity at Adelaide University in Australia, Dr Kerr’s work is intrinsically cross-disciplinary, embracing engineering, cognitive neuroscience, the professions and health sciences.

In Australia, Dr Kerr’s recent research in the field of health sciences, she focusses on the neurophysiology of human touch and eye gaze, and its measureable impact on healing and therapeutic relationships. As we contemplate a future where robots become carers, her research assists in shaping interactive technology and government policy. In the engineering space she investigates the interaction between humans and autonomous systems, focusing on the cognitive and complex systems dynamics aspects of trusted partnerships. With the faculty of the professions, she looks at the future of work, centring on why adaptive leaders think in complex, strategic terms and build flourishing cultures; and how that changes with technologization.

Outside Australia, Dr Kerr has worked in collaboration with research institutes and universities throughout Europe, Asia and North America. In Finland, she is a member of the ministerial steering committee designing Finland’s AI program for a human-centric future and she collaborates with the University of Tampere and the VTT Technical Research Centre.

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Consultant to Industry & Government

When is a robot ‘better’ than a human? When is a human more effective or efficient than a robot? When is it neutral? How does this inform the design and use of new technologies, especially AI? How do you integrate new technologies responsibly, whether a CEO or a parent? What are the key considerations for government and industry?

In late 2018, Dr Kerr aims to expand her consulting and advisory services to technologists, industry and government through the establishment of a new research institute, based in Adelaide where Fiona was voted one of SA’s top 100 influential people, and shortlisted for the honour of South Australian of the Year.

Drawing on world-leading expertise in neuroscience, engineering, AI, psychology, and policy, the institute will also offer research opportunities and collaboration, technology and policy input, and capacity building.

The institute will partner with the University of Adelaide and leverage established connections with the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and the Australian Institute for Machine Learning. It will also work with international collaborators in Finland, France, the UK and North America.

Its multidisciplinary approach will help decision makers to better understand the value of both humans and technology, and what each brings to a given situation. Further, this will assist the design of high quality partnerships between humans and technology, especially AI, and maximize the societal benefit of technologization. It will also help us to decide what not to technologize.

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Keynote Speaker

Dr Kerr combines her research and consulting roles with keynote speaking engagements in Australia and overseas.

Her highly engaging presentation style shares a fresh perspective on both human interaction and technological transformation, exploring how we shape each other, how technology shapes us, and how we should shape technology for a human-centric future.

As part of her quest to engage academia, industry, government and the wider public in informed debate, Dr Kerr has presented to a large range of audiences in Australia, Europe and North America.

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“We are hard wired to connect. When human beings who trust each other interact face to face, their capacity to have a positive cognitive effect on each other’s brain and body is something which no robot or screen has”.

TEDx: Look Into My Eyes


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Changing Our Minds׃ How Great Leaders Rewire Brains


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We are hard wired to connect and we have amazing neurophysiological effects on each other when we do. Our brains are still bafflingly intricate, with estimates of over 500 trillion synapses processing 60 quadrillion bits per second. We are also a technologised society, with constant new options ranging from simple efficiency to awe inspiring intricacy. So how do we take advantage of both? How do we make informed decisions on the use and adoption of technologies so that they truly enable us while maintaining the advantages of human cognition and human-to-human interaction?

Dr Kerr has contributed both academic and non-academic works on a variety of subjects, including ABC RN’s order provigil from canada, order provigil from india and public written media. She has written an eclectic range of book chapters such as Operationalising Innovation: Hotwiring the Creative Organisation; It’s What We’re Here For – A Once In A Lifetime Chance and Taking a Premium Quality Chocolate Family Business onto the E-Market – Haigh’s, a manual for government on Using Value Chain Mapping to Build Comparative Advantage, and she is currently working on Adaptive Complex Systems: Riding the wave of weak signals.

In 2018, Dr Kerr will be working on a book explaining how human interaction alters and shapes our brain, mindset and body, and some of the ways in which this is impacted by or through technology. Knowing this allows us to think differently about both human capacity and how we design and leverage the awesome capabilities of technology as an enabler for the benefit of humankind.


Over the years, Fiona has published numerous articles, been featured in many interviews on radio and in print, and given a variety of stimulating keynote presentations.

She draws attention to important human issues and how each of them impact us on a personal and global level.


Over the years, Fiona has published numerous articles, been featured in many interviews on radio and in print, and given a variety of stimulating keynote presentations.

She draws attention to important human issues and how each of them impact us on a personal and global level.