After six years in the President’s chair, Professor Mike Hinchey last week handed over the reins to Anthony Wong. 

Reflecting on his Presidency, Mr Hinchey said he was proud of the way IFIP has raised its profile in recent years. 

“We’ve grown our visibility and put IFIP back on peoples’ radar again by engaging more with UNESCO, UNCTAD and the UN, and by being seen to play an active role at WSIS and other high-level events. We’ve also been working with our national member societies to help their members understand that they are also part of IFIP and can leverage our global network and resources,” he explained.

“I’m proud that we’re now demonstrating our value to UNESCO by advising on new technologies like AI and how they should be implemented. We’re able to bring in experts from all over the world to guide UNESCO not just around the technology, but also on the human aspects, ethical considerations and more. Furthermore, our status as the global professional body means we’re independent and objective, so they know they can trust us not to push any commercial agenda.”

Looking back, Mr Hinchey said the past few years in particular were hugely impacted by COVID. 

“As an international body which holds events all over the world, the inability to travel was significant. However, we weathered that storm by emphasising newer technologies like Zoom and have been able to keep our events going online. While it’s not the same as getting together in person, people were able to stay connected and keep doing their research so the ability to engage in this way has been important.”

He also pointed to last year’s 60th Anniversary Event Series, in which IFIP member bodies – including national societies, technical committees and working groups – staged online events to mark the Jubilee and encourage knowledge transfer. 

“This was a wonderful series of events overseen by a committee led by Anthony Wong, and hundreds of our members got involved in running and attending them. We’ll probably never go back to fully doing things in the traditional way, which means we’ll do less travelling and have a smaller carbon footprint.”

Mr Hinchey said IFIP also ran a highly successful event for the Austrian Government on AI. “At their request, we arranged an event which featured Roger Penrose (winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize for Physics) and our own Stephen Ibaraki, who co-founded the AI for Good Global Summit. Based on the success of that event, the Austrian Government has since reached out again and asked us to plan another on.

Mr Hinchey said he was proud to serve as IFIP President and looked forward to supporting Anthony Wong during his term. He will continue to serve on the IFIP Executive Committee for the next year as Immediate Past President.