SCORES of ambassadors representing businesses and communities in Basingstoke attended a question and answer session about artificial intelligence (AI) and the opportunities it creates within the town.

The event, designed to bring individuals and businesses in Basingstoke together, was organised by Destination Basingstoke and was held in Oakley Hall on Friday, May 9.

Talks were given by four Basingstoke-based AI experts. The talks ranged from how AI was used to save a city council money when it was on the verge of bankruptcy, to how a college in Basingstoke is learning to adapt with new tools.

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Basingstoke Gazette: BCoT's AI experts Umaira Tariq and Scott HaydenBCoT's AI experts Umaira Tariq and Scott Hayden (Image: Newsquest)

One of the AI experts was Scott Hayden, head of teaching, learning and digital at Basingstoke College of Technology (BCoT). 

He told the Gazette: "At our college, we approached all things technology mindfully, deliberately and intentionally to enhance teaching and learning.

"We are deeply sceptical and worried about our relationship to technology if it isn't thought through carefully because we've seen first-hand how much technology can damage young people if it isn't scaffolded and given guardrails.

"When it comes to things like generative AI, our approach is teacher-focused. So freeing up evenings for teachers by giving them tools like Google Gemini and to help them with lesson planning, resource creation and as a thought partner as a tool that they can use to help them augment their practice.

"All the while we are keen that they develop their critical consumption of these tools because it is crucial that we role model to our young people how we can use these different platforms, software, in the right way."

Basingstoke Gazette: Martin Neale is CEO of ICS.AIMartin Neale is CEO of ICS.AI (Image: All Events PR)

Martin Neale is the CEO of Chineham-based firm, ICS.AIs.

He told the Gazette: "It's a key part of our future, as a species, I'm a great believer in the abilities of technology to make a difference to us in the long term but also in short term in the public sector."

He added: "I think that becoming 'AI-first' is the trajectory we're all on, and setting up this kind of forum, educating the people around this is the opportunity for Basingstoke to become one of the first 'AI-first' towns."

Basingstoke Gazette: Mark Jones from Destination BasingstokeMark Jones from Destination Basingstoke (Image: Newsquest)

Mark Jones, partnerships manager for Destination Basingstoke, said more than 50 members have signed up to the Ambassador Community since it launched in February. 

He added: "The idea is to create a community that will connect people and businesses to community organisations and charities so that we can all collectively make a difference.

"I am sure that everyone has gone away from here meeting some new people and knowing a heck of a lot more about AI and those conversations will continue beyond today and that's what we want."