“To see a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wild flower,” begins William Blake’s Auguries of Innocence. At a young age, Professor Toby Walsh was Blake’s poem personified. “I remember looking at a patch of ground and thinking, ‘If I could understand what goes on in that square metre, I would know everything about the universe,’” he says.

His horizons have broadened beyond that patch of ground, but his curiosity hasn’t waned. Walsh, who is now Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, is a world-leading researcher and communicator in his field.

Just a few years after his first childhood epiphany he experienced another. An avid reader, and with access to one of the first personal computers at his school, he realised that he could actually build the intelligent computers and robots he was reading about in sci-fi novels by his favourite authors, Arthur C Clarke and Isaac Asimov.

What I imagined when I was 11 is something that I single-mindedly have done since,” he says. “Maybe someone with greater imagination would have moved on to other things than their childhood fascination, but I never got away from it.”

What’s fantastic now is that the rest of the world is waking up to those dreams, and realising that they are going to be an important part of our futures.

On behalf of Rabobank we would like to thank you very much for presenting last week at our Farm2Fork Summit. We were very excited to have you at the event and our guests really valued you taking the time to share your experience and knowledge with them. We have received lots of wonderful feedback from our clients and industry colleagues describing how interesting, relevant and useful the content on stage was. The guests have described walking away feeling motivated and inspired to help grow a better world together so thank you for your contribution to the day and your insightful presentation.

Matilda Stump
Manager, Knowledge & Network Experiences, Rabobank

Image Credits from top to bottom: 1. Rabobank speaking engagement; 2. Centre for Ideas, UNSW Sydney. All images are used with the permission of their rightful copyright owners.