Automated informality: generative frictions in ADM systems

PROJECT SUMMARY

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Automated informality: generative frictions in ADM systems

Focus Areas: News & Media
Research Program: People, Data, Machines & Institutions
Status: Active

Informality, especially in economic practice, poses a recurrent problem in development literature. Economic informality is broadly associated with weaker economic outcomes: countries with larger informal sectors have lower per capita incomes, greater poverty, less financial development, and weaker growth in output, investment, and productivity. As such regimes across the globe have sought to intervene in, and formalize the informal sector through worker registration drives, technology transfers, and other interventions which attempt to expand the reach of the formal economy bringing swaths of the working population under regimes of taxation, workplace safety, and enhanced productivity.

Recently, such interventions have turned on the possibilities and promises of automation. While industrial robotics systems boost manufacturing productivity, digital platforms make possible immediate and traceable circulation of funds, even as biometric databases enable automated identity verification in commercial and civic contexts.  Here new technologies of automation hold out the potential to formalize economic practices by extending standardized protocols in the form of apps, database architectures, and machinery.

Scholars of informal work have emphasized that informal and formal economic practices have long been intertwined, and they are connected by exchanges of personnel, ideas, content, and capital as highly contingent interactions. Especially in the Global South, the informal is not exceptional but typical with informality characterizing most economic practices. In India, for example, the rise of formal IT outsourcing firms has been matched by the growth of temporary and unregulated service workers who clean the offices, fix the meals, and provide transportation to professional employees.

In Brazil, wageless trash collectors sort recyclable items from Rio de Janeiro’s municipal waste dumps enabling the operation of this public infrastructure while extracting a livelihood from reselling this waste. Far from eliminating informal economies contemporary regimes of accumulation generate value by weaving formal and informal practices together.

Currently missing from this body of scholarship is a range of contingent and non-standard work that proliferates as a result of the friction that exists within automated systems as complex self-coordinating and self-organising mechanisms. This type of work – which we call small automation – is different from gig work in that it is unregulated, opportunistic, and marginalised; it is largely invisible and opaque, but unlike ghost work, its invisibility is key to its survival.

Small automation is different from both gig work and ghost work in the sense that it encompasses a range of informal enterprises created by informal actors that circumvent, exploit, or co-opt automated systems, rather than being deployed by Silicon Valley to develop new technologies.

This project maps a range of informal automated activities that proliferate within automated systems across various empirical domains, such as click farming, CAPTCHA hacking, phone farming, dropshipping, OTP scams, fraudulent loan apps, and free jacking. The proliferation of automated informality can create unexpected implications for the operation of automated systems and our information environment more generally. Our focus on mapping automated informality works to supplement current research on gig work and ghost work while demonstrating the theoretical and empirical value of examining automated systems in context.

RESEARCHERS

Dang Nguyen

Dr Dang Nguyen

Lead Investigator,
RMIT University

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Rakesh Kumar

Rakesh Kumar

PhD Student,
Western Sydney University

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AI ReWired: How communities are using AI to Support Social and Environmental Justice

PROJECT SUMMARY

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AI ReWired: How communities are using AI to Support Social and Environmental Justice

Focus Areas: News & Media, Mobilities, Health
Research Program: People
Status: Active

The future we are being sold is an automated wonderland, a techtopia that will use algorithms to heal our ecological crisis and restore social justice. A dream world where we enjoy endless innovation and growth in sparkling smart cities, where we are liberated from the burden of work, where the future of our species lies in billionaire funded missions to Mars.

But what if this promise sounds more like a nightmare?
What are the alternatives?

The AI ReWired project uses co-creative documentary film practice to uncover how diverse communities utilise AI systems to protect the environment, support social justice and promote fairness in their communities.

RESEARCHERS

Jeni Lee

Jeni Lee

Lead Investigator,
Monash University

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ADM+S Chief Investigator Sarah Pink

Prof Sarah Pink

Chief Investigator,
Monash University

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Dr Damiano Spina

Dr Damiano Spina

Associate Investigator,
RMIT University

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Yolande Strengers

Prof Yolande Strengers

Associate Investigator,
Monash University

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Georgia Van Toorn

Dr Georgia van Toorn

Associate Investigator,
UNSW

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Thao Phan

Dr Thao Phan

Research Fellow,
Monash University

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Emma Quilty

Dr Emma Quilty

Research Fellow,
Monash University

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Melissa Gregg

De Mel Gregg

Senior Industry Fellow,
RMIT

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Nonie May

Dr Nonie May

Project support,
Monash University

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Humans, Machines, and Decision Responsibility

PROJECT SUMMARY

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Humans, Machines, and Decision Responsibility

Focus Areas: News & Media, Social Services, Mobilities, Health
Research Program: Institutions, Machines
Status: Active

Automated decision-making provokes a range of anxieties around transparency, equality, and accountability. A key response has been the call to ‘re-humanise’ automated decisions, with the hope that human control of automated systems might defend human values from mindless technocracy. Regulation of automated decision-making and AI often embeds this form of human centrism by prescribing a ‘human in the loop’ and the need for automated decisions to be ‘explained’. These requirements are central elements of the risk-based approaches AI regulation currently in development.

Despite their intuitive appeal, empirical research is revealing the limitations and complexities of these approaches. AI explanations sometimes provide little that is useful for decision subjects or decision makers, and risk distracting from more meaningful interrogation of why decisions are made. A human in the loop sometimes functions as a rubber stamp for automated decisions, cleaving accountability away from the true sites of decision responsibility.

This project seeks to generate better understandings of the functions, capacities, and normative role of humans within automated decision systems. It will investigate the ways that automated systems ought to explain or be explained to humans within decision processes, and how elements of decision-making including processes, responsibility, authority, and what counts as a decision itself, are fragmented and redistributed between humans, machines, and organisations. The goal is to generate empirical knowledge of how automated systems, humans, and organisations interact in different contexts when making decisions, and to move past outdated understandings of decisions-making that are hindering effective governance of automation in new decision contexts.

RESEARCHERS

Jake Goldenfein

Dr Jake Goldenfein

Lead Investigator,
University of Melbourne

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ADM+S Associate Director Jean Burgess

Prof Jean Burgess

Chief Investigator,
QUT

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Prof Paul Henman

Chief Investigator,
University of Queensland

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ADM+S Chief Investigator Christopher Leckie

Prof Chris Leckie

Chief Investigator,
University of Melbourne

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Prof Flora Salim

Prof Flora Salim

Chief Investigator,
UNSW

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Distinguished Professor Julian Thomas

Prof Julian Thomas

Chief Investigator,
RMIT University

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Kim Weatherall

Prof Kim Weatherall

Chief Investigator,
University of Sydney

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Henry Fraser

Dr Henry Fraser

Research Fellow,
QUT

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Dr Awais Hameed Khan

Research Fellow,
UQ

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Christopher O'Neill

Dr Chris O’Neil

Research Fellow,
Monash University

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Ash Watson

Dr Ash Watson

Research Fellow,
UNSW

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Fan Yang

Dr Fan Yang

Research Fellow,
University of Melbourne

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Jenny Kennedy

Libby Young

PhD Student
University of Sydney

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Joe Brailsford

Joe Brailsford

Affiliate
University of Melbourne

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Fabio Mattioli

Dr Fabio Mattioli

Affiliate
University of Melbourne

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Australian Digital Inclusion Index Project

PROJECT SUMMARY

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Australian Digital Inclusion Index Project

Focus Areas: News & Media, Social Services, Mobilities, Health
Research Program: People
Status: Active

Digital inclusion is about ensuring that all Australians can access and use digital technologies effectively. We are experiencing an accelerating digital transformation in many aspects of economic and social life. Our premise is that everyone should have the opportunity to benefit from digital technologies: to manage their health, access education and services, participate in cultural activities, organise their finances, follow news and media, and connect with family, friends, and the wider world.

The Australian Digital Inclusion Index (ADII or “Index”) uses survey data to measure digital inclusion across three dimensions of Access, Affordability and Digital Ability. We explore how these dimensions vary across the country and across different social groups.

In partnership with Telstra and through biennial data collections presented through reports and data visualisation dashboards, the ADII is capturing and communicating the evolving state of digital inclusion in Australia. This is complemented by aligned sub-projects with local, state and federal government departments and community partners to drill down into specific digital inclusion challenges for social groups or geographical regions of interest.

A detailed measure of digital inclusion for Australia allows us to identify the critical barriers to inclusion. These may be related to accessing networks, the costs of devices or data, or skills and literacies. Through these measures, the Index shapes digital equity policy and initiatives, research, and practice to increase digital inclusion in Australia.

Visit the ADII website 

PUBLICATIONS

Measuring Australia’s Digital Divide: 2023 Australian Digital Inclusion Index

ADM+S and Telstra

Report

Telstra Connected Students: Lessons for Digital Inclusion, 2022

ADM+S and Telstra

Report

Australian Digital Inclusion Index: Measuring Digital Inclusion in North-East Victorian SMEs Summary Findings Brief, 2022

Thomas, J., Parkinson, S., et al.

Report

2021 Digital Inclusion Index

ADM+S and Telstra

Report

RESEARCHERS

Distinguished Professor Julian Thomas

Prof Julian Thomas

Chief Investigator,
RMIT University

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ADM+S Chief Investigator Anthony McCosker

Prof Anthony McCosker

Chief Investigator,
Swinburne University

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Jenny Kennedy

Assoc Prof Jenny Kennedy

Associate Investigator,
RMIT University

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Sharon Parkinson

Dr Sharon Parkinson

Associate Investigator,
Swinburne University

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Kieran Hegarty

Kieran Hegarty

Research Fellow,
RMIT University

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RESEARCHER SUPPORT

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Lucy Valenta

Research Coordinator,
RMIT University

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PARTNERS

Telstra

Telstra

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Is Pricing Discriminatory: Testing Automated Decision-Making Systems in Online Insurance Markets

PROJECT SUMMARY

Is Pricing Discriminatory: Testing Automated Decision-Making Systems in Online Insurance Markets

Focus Areas: News & Media, Social Services, Mobilities, Health
Research Program: Data
Status: Active

Advances in data-driven and AI systems are driving significant transformation in the emerging insurance technology (insurtech) sector.

This project investigates the extent to which automated decision-making systems impact the provision of consumer insurance via pricing algorithms which may produce unfair outcomes for particular subsets of society by engaging in proxy and price discrimination.

RESEARCHERS

Kelly Lewis

Dr Kelly Lewis

Lead Investigator,
Monash University

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Mark Andrejevic

Prof Mark Andrejevic

Chief Investigator,
Monash University

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Daniel Angus

Prof Daniel Angus

Chief Investigator,
QUT

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Kim Weatherall

Prof Kim Weatherall

Chief Investigator,
University of Sydney

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Zofia Bednarz

Dr Zofia Bednarz

Associate Investigator,
University of Sydney

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Jathan Sadowski

Dr Jathan Sadowski

Associate Investigator,
Monash University

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ADM+S professional staff Abdul Obeid

Dr Abdul Obeid

Data Engineer,
QUT

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PARTNERS

CHOICE

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Consumer Policy Research Centre

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Testbed Australia

PROJECT SUMMARY

Drone in sky

Testbed Australia

Focus Areas: Transport and Mobilities
Research Program: People

Australia has a long history as a site for scientific experimentation. The Australian land and its people have, over the course of its colonial history, been continuously treated as a “low risk” site for the empirical testing of high-risk theories and procedures.

Most recently, Big Tech corporations have begun to experiment with the country’s potential as test bed for new features and products. The streaming service Spotify used Australia as a testing site for its then experimental Discover Weekly playlist. The dating app Tinder piloted features like “Tinder Social” and “Super Like” in the Australian market before releasing it globally. And Facebook trialled its 2018 upvote downvote feature first on users based in Australia and New Zealand.

While techniques like prototyping, beta testing, and other forms of testing “in the wild” are common practices, the impacts of such testing on communities and environments are under-examined.

This project explores the role of testing, prototyping, trialling and other techniques of controlled experimentation for AI and other automated decision-making systems in Australia.

It focuses on transport and mobilities, investigating techniques of testing for the deployment of automated systems, such as those used in Autonomous vehicle (AVs) and commercial delivery drones.

It brings together expertise in feminist science and technology studies (STS), critical legal studies, and media studies to address questions such as:

  • What are the features of the environment and landscape that make Australia well-suited as a site for testing?
  • Which communities are targets for testing?
  • How does policy and other forms of state discourse contribute to creating an ideal regulatory environment for testing?
  • What are the potential harms and benefits involved?

RESEARCHERS

Thao Phan

Dr Thao Phan

Lead Investigator,
Monash University

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Jake Goldenfein

Dr Jake Goldenfein

Chief Investigator,
University of Melbourne

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Michael Richardson

Assoc Prof Michael Richardson

Associate Investigator,
UNSW

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Automation and Public Space

PROJECT SUMMARY

LiDAR sensing concept

Automation and Public Space

Focus Areas: News and Media, Transport and Mobility, Health, and Social Services
Research Program: Data
Status:
 Active

From delivery drones to digital twins to crowd surveillance, automated decision-making technologies and practices are increasingly impacting public and shared space. This project investigates how automated decision-making systems impact public and shared space via sensors that produce actionable digital simulations, artefacts, and interfaces. Through a mixed methods approach, it will examine current and potential effects of automated decision-making on the form, use, and experience of public space.

Technological development in this area is undergoing rapid change. Delivery via autonomous drone requires sensor-driven navigation systems, but the data and models they produce about public space will likely lead to modulations of that space in response. In urban and environmental governance, ‘digital twins’ are increasingly to monitor environments in real-time, simulate the impact of potential changes, and even implement those changes directly. Technologies such as these are not only increasingly deployed in Australia, but are also invented, designed, and tested here too, often in proximity to defence and defence industries.

Understanding how tools of automated spatiality reconfigure environments and the role of policy and industry in their innovation and uptake will generate new knowledge about a critical point of convergence between public space, technology, defence, and industry with national significance, as well as implications for international jurisdictions facing similar changes and challenges.

Over 3 years commencing in 2022, the project aims to answer the following questions:
• How is space-making automated across different technologies and contexts? What logics, techniques and practices are shared? What are distinct to different contexts?
• How does automated spatiality lead to the reconfiguring of public space?
• How are digital infrastructures, such as unmanned traffic management systems for civilian airspace, imagined, organised, and regulated?
• How do policy settings, industrial demands, and defence priorities shape the development and application of technologies of automated spatiality?

PUBLICATIONS

Andrejevic, M.

Journal article

Biometric Re-bordering: Environmental Control During Pandemic Times, 2022

Andrejevic, M., Volcic, Z.

Journal article

Seeing Like a Border, 2021

Andrejevic, M., Volcic, Z.

Journal article

RESEARCHERS

Michael Richardson

Assoc Prof Michael Richardson

Lead Investigator,
UNSW

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Mark Andrejevic

Prof Mark Andrejevic

Chief Investigator,
Monash University

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Jake Goldenfein

Dr Jake Goldenfein

Chief Investigator,
University of Melbourne

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ADM+S Chief Investigator Anthony McCosker

Prof Anthony McCosker

Chief Investigator,
Swinburne University

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Jathan Sadowski

Dr Jathan Sadowski

Associate Investigator,
Monash University

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Rowan Wilken

Assoc Prof Rowan Wilken

Associate Investigator,
RMIT University

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Kelly Lewis

Dr Kelly Lewis

Research Fellow,
Monash University

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Christopher O'Neill

Dr Chris O’Neill

Research Fellow,
Monash University

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Thao Phan

Dr Thao Phan

Research Fellow,
Monash University

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Zoe Horn

Zoe Horn

Student,
Western Sydney University

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Lauren Kelly

Lauren Kelly

Student,
RMIT University

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Andrew Brooks

Dr Andrew Brooks

Affiliate,
UNSW

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Danielle Hynes

Danielle Hynes

Affiliate,
UNSW

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PARTNERS

OVIC Logo

Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner

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Trauma-informed AI: Developing and testing a practical AI audit framework for use in social services

PROJECT SUMMARY

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Trauma-informed AI: Developing and testing a practical AI audit framework for use in social services

Focus Areas: Social Services
Research Program: Machines
Status: Active

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly being used in the delivery of social services. While it offers opportunities for more efficient, effective and personalised service delivery, AI can also generate greater problems, reinforcing disadvantage, generating trauma or re-traumatising service users.

Conducted by a multi-disciplinary research team with extensive expertise in the intersection of social services and digital technology, this project seeks to co-design an innovative AI trauma-informed audit framework to assess the extent to which an AI’s decisions may generate new trauma or re-traumatise.

The value of a trauma-informed AI audit framework is not simply to assess digital technologies after they are built and in operation, but also to inform designs of digital technologies and digitally enabled social services from their inception.

It will be road-tested using multiple case studies of AI use in child/family services, domestic and family violence services, and social security/welfare payments.

RESEARCHERS

Paul Henman

Prof Paul Henman

Lead Investigator,
University of Queensland

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ADM+S Investigator Philip Gillingham

Dr Philip Gillingham

Associate Investigator,
University of Queensland

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Lyndal Sleep profile picture

Dr Lyndal Sleep

Affiliate,
Central Queensland University

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Suzanna Fay

Dr Suzanna Fay

Senior Lecturer,
University of Queensland

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PARTNERS

University of Notre Dame-IBM Tech Ethics Lab

University of Notre Dame-IBM Tech Ethics Lab

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Mapping automated decision-making tools in administrative decision-making in NSW

PROJECT SUMMARY

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Mapping automated decision-making tools in administrative decision-making in NSW

Focus Areas: Social Services
Research Program: Institutions
Status: Active

The project is a partnership between ADM+S and the New South Wales Ombudsman to map and analyse the use of automated systems in state and local government sectors in New South Wales (NSW). The project follows from a ground-breaking report on the use of technology in government decision-making published by the NSW Ombudsman in 2022.

The project will first map where and how NSW state and local government agencies are using automated systems in administrative decision processes. This is the first attempt to undertake such a systematic mapping in any jurisdiction in Australia and one of the very few attempts across the world. This first stage, led by Prof Paul Henman, Chief Investigator at ADM+S, and Dr Lyndal Sleep, Research Fellow at ADM+S, will distribute questionnaires and conduct targeted interviews with NSW state and local government agencies; building on the work from the ‘Mapping ADM in Australian Social Services’ project which mapped the use of automated systems in social security settings in Australia.

The second part of the research will be led by ADM+S Chief Investigator Prof Kimberlee Weatherall, and ADM+S Research Fellow Dr José-Miguel Bello y Villarino, which will analyse the different systems planned and in use by NSW public authorities, and the key risks and issues that emerge.

Researchers from ADM+S and Macquarie University will contribute to different legal and technical elements of the project.

The NSW Ombudsman will table a report to NSW Parliament with the findings of the research by the end of 2023.

RESEARCHERS

Kimberlee Weatherall

Prof Kimberlee Weatherall

Chief Researcher, University of Sydney

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Paul Henman

Prof Paul Henman

Chief Researcher, UQ

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José-Miguel Bello y Villarino

Dr José-Miguel Bello y Villarino

Principal Researcher, University of Sydney

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C. Allan

Principal Project Officer, NSW Ombudsman’s Office

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K. Whitworth

Senior Project Officer, NSW Ombudsman’s Office

Lyndal Sleep profile picture

Dr Lyndal Sleep

Associate Researcher,
Central Queensland University

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Jenny van der Arend

Dr Jenny van der Arend

Senior Research Assistant, UQ

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Jeffrey Chan

Assoc Prof Jeffrey Chan

Associate Researcher

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Terry Carney

Prof Terry Carney

Senior Researcher, University of Sydney

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Scarlet Wilcock

Dr Scarlet Wilcock

Associate Researcher, University of Sydney

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Rita Matulionyte

Dr Rita Matulionyte

Associate Researcher, Macquarie University

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Distinguished Professor Julian Thomas

Dist. Prof Julian Thomas

Advisory Board Member, RMIT University

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PARTNERS

NSW Ombudsman

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Risk, Rule-setters and Rule-takers: Regulatory approaches to risk in AI-supported and AI-automated decision-making for general welfare

PROJECT SUMMARY

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Risk, Rule-setters and Rule-takers: Regulatory approaches to risk in AI-supported and AI-automated decision-making for general welfare

Focus Areas: News and Media, Transport and Mobility, Health, and Social Services
Research Programs: Institutions
Status: Active

This project seeks to scope several approaches to deal with Automated Decision-Making and Decision-Support Systems-Related Risks (ADM/DSS RR) through norms and provide an evaluation of those approaches for their consideration in regulatory contexts.

The standpoint is to look at risk control of those systems beyond ethics or social principles and focus the discussion on the possible interventions from the regulator’s perspective.

The overarching questions and sub-questions guiding this project are:

  • What is risk in an ADM / DS System?
    – Is it possible to define it?
    – How is it different from technological risk?
    – How is it different from the concept of risk in
    management?
    – Are all “potential harms” risks of and ADM/DSS?
    – Is there a concept of risk usable for regulatory
    purposes?
  • What types of risks are common and which ones specific to ADM/DSS?
    – Due to the nature of the risk?
    – Due to the scale of the risk?
  • What is an acceptable risk:
    – From the point of view of society as a whole
    – From the point of view of the most vulnerable groups
    – From the point of view of the owner of the AI system
    – From the point of view of the users of the system
  • Can risk be separated from questions of liability/ responsibility or do they need to be regulated together?

PUBLICATIONS

Acceptable risks in Europe’s Proposed AI Act: Reasonableness and other principles for deciding how much risk management is enough, 2023

Bello y Villarino, J.M., Fraser, H.

Journal article

The Tale of Two Automated States: Why one-size-fits-all approach to administrative law reform to accommodate AI will fail, 2023

Bello y Villarino, J.M.

Book chapter

International Human Rights, Artificial Intelligence, and the Challenge for the Pondering State: Time to Regulate? 2022

Bello y Villarino, J.M., et al.

Journal article

Legal Issues Around Autonomous Systems – Civil Liability, Fault and System Safety, 2022

Fraser, H.

Conference paper

AI Opacity and Explainability in Tort Litigation, 2022

Snoswell, A., Fraser, H., Simcock, R.

Conference paper

Where residual risks reside: A comparative approach to art 9(4) of the EU’s Proposed AI Regulation, 2021

Bello y Villarino, J.M, Fraser, H.

Working paper

RESEARCHERS

Kimberlee Weatherall

Prof Kimberlee Weatherall

Chief Investigator,
University of Sydney

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ADM+S Chief Investigator Nic Suzor

Prof Nicolas Suzor

Chief Investigator,
QUT

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José-Miguel Bello y Villarino

Dr José-Miguel Bello Villarino

Research Fellow,
University of Sydney

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Henry Fraser

Dr Henry Fraser

Research Fellow,
QUT

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PARTNERS

Gradient Institute logo

Gradient Institute

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The Toxicity Scalpel: Prototyping and evaluating methods to remove harmful generative capability from foundation models

PROJECT SUMMARY

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The Toxicity Scalpel: Prototyping and evaluating methods to remove harmful generative capability from foundation models

Focus Areas: News and Media
Research Programs: Machines
Status: Active

AI language models have made significant strides over the past few years. Computers are now capable of writing poetry and computer code, producing human-like text, summarising documents, engaging in natural conversation about a variety of topics, solving math problems, and translating between languages.

This rapid progress has been made possible by a trend in AI development where one general ‘foundational’ model is developed (usually using a large dataset from the internet) and then adapted many times to fit diverse applications, rather than beginning from scratch each time.

This method of ADM development can appear time and cost effective, but ‘bakes in’ negative tendencies like the creation of toxic content, misogyny, or hate speech at the foundational layer, which subsequently spread to each downstream application.

The goal of this project is to examine how language models used in ADM systems might be improved by making modifications at the foundation model stage, rather than at the application level, where computational interventions, social responsibility, and legal liability have historically focussed.

PUBLICATIONS

First page of Journal Article: Measuring Misogyny in Natural Language Generation: Preliminary Results from a Case Study on two Reddit Communities

Measuring Misogyny in Natural Language Generation: Preliminary Results from a Case Study on two Reddit Communities,2023

Snoswell, A., Nelson, L., Xue, H., Salim, F., Suzor, N., & Burgess, J.

Journal article

RESEARCHERS

ADM+S Investigator Flora Salim

Prof Flora Salim

Chief Investigator,
UNSW

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ADM+S Chief Investigator Nic Suzor

Prof Nic Suzor

Chief Investigator,
QUT

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Hao Xue

Dr Hao Xue

Associate Investigator,
UNSW

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Dr Aaron Snoswell

Dr Aaron Snoswell

Research Fellow,
QUT

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Lucinda Nelson

Lucinda Nelson

PhD Student,
QUT

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She’s Not Alone

PROJECT SUMMARY

She's Not Alone

She’s Not Alone

Focus Area: Transport & Mobilities
Research Program: People

In partnership with Monash University’s Emerging Technologies Research Lab and She’s A Crowd, a social enterprise working to end gender-based violence, this drama-documentary invites us to consider: how people and organisations might effectively use automated decision-making (ADM) in the rideshare sector to deliver a safe and trusted service; and where the starting points for design for rideshare ADM systems and technologies should be.

She’s Not Alone is a short film co-produced by ADM+S researchers Jeni Lee and Dr Emma Equilty that highlights some of the safety issues women and gender diverse people experience in and around transport. In a world where automated systems, technology and digital data are increasingly present, the film raises discussion around automated safety features including tracking, surveillance and emergency alerts.

The docu-drama challenges the idea that artificial intelligence is the way to solve problems that arise for so many rideshare users, suggesting instead that we imagine a future where safety involves a combination of technology, human connections and community support.

RESEARCHERS

Jeni Lee

Jeni Lee

Lead Investigator,
Monash University

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Sarah Pink

Prof Sarah Pink

Chief Investigator,
Monash University

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Thao Phan

Dr Thao Phan

Research Fellow,
Monash University

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Emma Quilty

Dr Emma Quilty

Research Fellow,
Monash University

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PARTNERS

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She’s A Crowd

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Emerging Technologies Research Lab

Emerging Technologies Research Lab, Monash University

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Big Data, Sexual Surveillance and Alternative Governance

PROJECT SUMMARY

Woman using ipad in bed

Big Data, Sexual Surveillance and Alternative Governance

Focus Area: Health
Research Programs: Institutions
Status: Active

The contested governance of sexual technologies – from apps and platforms to bots and devices – provides a unique case study through which to identify current problems in automated decision-making and to generate new principles, values and approaches. This project will examine existing practices in the collection and use of sexual data by both private and public actors.

It will investigate how algorithms are taught to understand sex, gender and sexuality through digital proxies and their potential to amplify discrimination. It will explore alternative frameworks for governing sexual technologies, including collective approaches to content moderation and data governance.

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Dr Zahra Stardust

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Collateral Data: Automated Decision-Making and the Future of Credit in India

PROJECT SUMMARY

Young Indian woman looking at letter while using laptop

Collateral Data: Automated Decision-Making and the Future of Credit in India

Focus Areas: Social Services
Research Programs: People
Status: Active

This project aims to investigate the increasing use of automated decision-making systems in the provision of automated loans in India. These systems can use a potential borrower’s personal data (including call histories, location, contact lists) to create credit scores for people without formal credit histories. Hailed as a revolutionary step forward in financial inclusion on the one hand and decried as a dangerous invasion of privacy on the other, these new loan products have significant impacts.

Focusing on designers, regulators, and users of automated loans in India, the project asks how these products shape financial inclusion and socio-economic mobility at an everyday level. Through conducting interviews and collecting financial diaries the project aims to elucidate how these technologies are taken up and transform borrowers’ livelihoods and social networks.

Expected outcomes include detailed accounts of how automated financial services can exacerbate inequality even as they expand financial inclusion. Understanding these dynamics will be crucial not only for intervening in social inequality in India but also in regulating the adoption of similar practices of credit-scoring and loan distribution that are already starting to emerge in Australia. In providing a detailed picture of how ADM is changing the landscape of credit and economic inequality in a context where these tools have been widely adopted, the project seeks to provide critical foresight to regulators and industry actors in countries like Australia where data sharing, and alternative data are just beginning to be taken up in the financial sector.

RESEARCHERS

ADM+S Chief Investigator Heather Horst

Prof Heather Horst

Lead Investigator,
Western Sydney University

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An AI governance framework for garbage truck-mounted machine vision systems

PROJECT SUMMARY

Brimbank City Council garbage truck

An AI governance framework for garbage truck-mounted machine vision systems

Focus Area: Transport and Mobilities
Research Program: Data
Status: Completed

This project addresses the ethical and social concerns associated with the use of AI systems in local government municipalities. The use of AI in decision-making offers great potential but also raises important issues such as privacy, transparency, and ethical considerations. To tackle these challenges, we propose an AI governance framework tailored specifically for local government municipalities. The framework prioritises human rights and values while weighing societal risks and benefits. It involves establishing guidelines and practices that align AI technologies with organisational values and objectives, promoting responsible AI development and deployment.

Through a collaborative design approach with Brimbank City Council in Australia, we have developed an AI governance framework. Drawing on insights from ethical and responsible AI research, we identify key AI management pillars, processes, and an action plan to guide responsible and ethical AI practices. This framework will be adaptable to the unique needs and concerns of municipalities, balancing general responsible AI principles with specific local government contexts.

The project makes several contributions. Firstly, it investigates the human, social, and ethical implications of AI usage in the context of local government. Secondly, it proposes an AI governance framework that combines responsible AI principles, management pillars, and an action plan, providing a significant step forward in AI governance. Lastly, it presents a participatory approach that facilitates the development and translation of the AI governance framework, making it a practical resource for policymakers, city planners and related stakeholders.

By adopting this framework, local governments can lead in promoting ethical AI use, building public trust, and transparency. To do so involves context-specific translational work, creating practical pathways for implementing high level ethical principles. Our framework and action plan enables responsible AI deployment across sectors, benefiting both the organisation and the community it serves.

PUBLICATIONS

AI Governance in the Smart City: A case study of garbage truck mounted machine vision for roadside maintenance, 2023

Kang, Y.B., McCosker, A., et al.

Report

RESEARCHERS

ADM+S Chief Investigator Anthony McCosker

Prof Anthony McCosker

Lead Investigator,
Swinburne University

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Yong-Bin Kang

Dr Yong-Bin Kang

Research Fellow,
Swinburne University

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Milovan Savic

Dr Milovan Savic

Research Fellow,
Swinburne University

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Yong-Bin Kang

Thomas Graham

PhD Student,
Swinburne University

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ADM+S Chief Investigator Megan Richardson

Prof Megan Richardson

Affiliate,
University of Melbourne

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PARTNERS

Brimbank City Council

Brimbank City Council

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OVIC Logo

Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC)

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Assessing Prospective Harms (vs Benefits) associated with ADM

PROJECT SUMMARY

Two people looking at computer screens

Assessing Prospective Harms (vs Benefits) associated with ADM

Focus Areas: News and Media, Transport and Mobility, Health, and Social Services
Research Programs: Data, Machines, Institutions
Status: 
Completed

The project (which is now completed) was set up as a preliminary exercise in assessing prospective harms vs prospective benefits associated with ADM as a first step to amelioration. It took a two-pronged approach: firstly, focusing on individual and social harms/costs that may be associated with automated or semi-automated data processing (including collection, retention, dissemination, and other uses of data) – versus prospective benefits; and secondly, assessing the levels of risk of these harms ranging from nebulous to very significant (and acknowledging there may be
uncertain outcomes and uneven distributions). The overall aim was thus to have a fuller appreciation of harms and risks as a precursor to thinking practically about amelioration/mitigation of costs.

More specifically, the project was geared to questions of elaborating and understanding the range of prospective harms associated with loss of control over data processing for individuals, groups and society, and indeed the entirety of the living world, as a first step to finding solutions such as changes in law, or social practices, or business methods, or technologies (or some combination of these).

The principal activity of the project was to have a series of workshops planned, organised and hosted by the coordinators CI Richardson, AI Roberts and Postdoc Jiménez (with administrator Astari.Kusumawardani providing support). The workshops featured the work of diverse ADM+S CIs, AIs, Researchers and Affiliates and adopted an intense mode of interrogation and discussion along with suggestions. The aim was to assist ADMS personnel with the preparation of reports, books and scholarly articles (as well as share insights and ideas).

Topics and presenters in the workshop series included the following:
•March: Aitor Jiménez (Megan Richardson chair), Crimes of digital capitalism
•March: Ariadna Matamoros- Fernández, Rosalie Gillett, Anjalee de Silva (Aitor Jiménez chair), •Gendered harm
•April: José-Miguel Bello Villarino, Henry Fraser (Megan Richardson chair), Where residual risks reside: a comparative approach to AI risk management under the EU’s AI Act Proposal
•April: Jake Goldenfein (Megan Richardsonchair) How competing constructions of humans legitimize online advertising
•May: Simon Coghlan, Christine Parker (Andy Roberts, chair), A preliminary framework for understanding how ADM/AI technologies can harm non-human animals
•June: Lisa Archbold (Andy Roberts chair), Children’s developmental privacy
•July: Frank Pasquale/Jeannie Paterson (Megan Richardson chair: co-hosted with CAIDE), Automated grace: toward more humane benefits administration via AI
•August: James Meese (Megan Richardson chair), Regulating news recommendation: looking beyond harm
•September: Megan Richardson (Jeannie Paterson chair – co-hosted with CAIDE), Trust norms and data rights
•October: Ariadna Matamoros- Fernández, Louisa Bartolo, Luke Troynar (Aitor Jiménez chair), Addressing harmful humour as an online safety issue
•November: Damian Clifford (Megan Richardson chair), Data protection and (in)accuracy

PUBLICATIONS

Harm to Nonhuman Animals from AI: a Systematic Account and Framework, 2023

Parker, C., Coghlan, S.

Journal article

Humour as an online safety issue: Exploring solutions to help platforms better address this form of expression, 2023

Matamoros-Fernández, A., Bartolo, L., Troynar, L.

Journal article

The Crimes of Digital Capitalism, 2022

Jiménez, A., Oleson, J.C.

Journal article

RESEARCHERS

ADM+S Investigator Christine Parker

Prof Christine Parker

Lead Investigator,
University of Melbourne

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Jake Goldenfein

Dr Jake Goldenfein

Chief Investigator,
University of Melbourne

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Kim Weatherall

Prof Kim Weatherall

Chief Investigator,
University of Sydney

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Zofia Bednarz

Dr Zofia Bednarz

Associate Investigator,
University of Sydney

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Simon Coghlan

Dr Simon Coghlan

Associate Investigator,
University of Melbourne

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ADM+S Chief Investigator Andrew Kenyon

Prof Andrew Kenyon

Associate Investigator,
University of Melbourne

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Ariadna Matamoros Fernandez profile picture

Dr Ariadna Matamoros-Fernández

Associate Investigator,
QUT

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James Meese

Dr James Meese

Associate Investigator,
RMIT University

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Andrew Roberts

Prof Andrew Roberts

Associate Investigator,
University of Melbourne

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ADM+S Investigator Ivana Jurko

Ivana Jurko

Partner Investigator,
Red Cross Australia

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José-Miguel Bello y Villarino

Dr José-Miguel Bello Villarino

Research Fellow,
University of Sydney

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Anjalee de Silva

Dr Anjalee de Silva

Research Fellow,
University of Melbourne

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Henry Fraser

Dr Henry Fraser

Research Fellow,
QUT

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Dr Rosalie Gillett profile picture

Dr Rosalie Gillett

Research Fellow,
QUT

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Aitor Jiménez

Dr Aitor Jiménez

Research Fellow,
University of Melbourne

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Damian Clifford

Dr Damian Clifford

Affiliate,
ANU

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ADM+S Investigator Fiona Haines

Prof Fiona Haines

Affiliate,
University of Melbourne

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Kobi Leins

Dr Kobi Leins

Affiliate,
King’s College

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Jeannie Paterson

Prof Jeannie Paterson

Affiliate,
University of Melbourne

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ADM+S Chief Investigator Megan Richardson

Prof Megan Richardson

Affiliate,
University of Melbourne

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PARTNERS

OVIC Logo

Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC)

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Data for Social Good: Non-profit sector data projects

PROJECT SUMMARY

Diverse group of people using digital devices

Data for Social Good: Non-profit sector data projects

Focus Area: Social Services
Research Program: Data
Status: Active

It is widely understood that the non-profit sector is at the frontline in addressing issues of social equity and inclusion. While the sector and the communities it serves stands to benefit greatly from the turn to data and analytics, it is often under-equipped.

This project draws on a range of social good data projects with non-profit organisations, including the Building Data Capability and Collaboration project, and provides a foundational methodology for the ADM+S Centre’s goals in reconfiguring data practices for responsible, ethical and inclusive ADM. It centres on a methodology of ‘collaborative data action’ that helps to build capability and improve data governance to produce data insights and innovation.

The open access Data for Social Good: Non-Profit Sector Data Projects book and associated workshops provide non-profit CEOs, managers, practitioners and board members with feasible strategies for getting into data analytics or assessing and building their organisation’s data capability. It also informs researchers as it reflects on where practice-embedded research has arrived and provides thoughts about future research directions.

PUBLICATIONS

Data for Social Good - Front Cover

Data for social good: non-profit sector data projects

27 October 2022

Read on APO

RESEARCHERS

ADM+S Chief Investigator Anthony McCosker

Assoc Prof Anthony McCosker

Lead Investigator,
Swinburne University

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Kath Albury

Prof Kath Albury

Associate Investigator,
Swinburne University

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Jane Farmer

Prof Jane Farmer

Associate Investigator,
Swinburne University

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PARTNERS & COLLABORATING ORGANISATIONS

Australian Red Cross Logo

Australian Red Cross

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Bendigo Bank

Bendigo Bank

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Victorian Government

Department of Premier and Cabinet, Victorian Government

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Entertainment Assist

Entertainment Assist

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Good Cycles

Good Cycles

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Infoxchange

Infoxchange

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ReachOut

ReachOut

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Yooralla

Yooralla

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Enabling digital transformation and considering digital futures within the cultural sector: Evaluating ACMI’s CEO digital mentoring project

PROJECT SUMMARY

ACMI building in the evening

Enabling digital transformation and considering digital futures within the cultural sector: Evaluating ACMI’s CEO digital mentoring project

Focus Area: News & Media
Research Program: Institutions
Status: Completed

This research investigated the enablers of digital transformation and considers digital futures within the cultural sector through evaluating the outcomes of ACMI’s CEO Digital Mentoring Program.

Funded by the Ian Potter Foundation and delivered in conjunction with the Australia Council, ACMI’s CEO Digital Mentoring Program offered strategic technology and digital mentoring for senior decision-making staff within the Australian cultural sector.

With digital platforms fundamentally reshaping how cultural content is created, distributed, and consumed, this research considered how cultural organisations might be better equipped to, and supported in, adopting, managing, and mitigating the risks associated with increasingly advanced technologies.

PUBLICATIONS

National Cultural Policy consultation: ADM+S together with the Digital Media Research Centre (DMRC), 2022

Holcombe-James, I., Pappalardo, K., et al.

Submission

From the top: learning from ACMI’s CEO Digital Mentoring Program 2021-22, 2022

Holcombe-James, I., et al.

Report

Enabling digital transformation within the cultural sector? Documenting ACMI’s CEO digital mentoring pilot program: executive summary, 2022

Holcombe-James, I.

Report

RESEARCHERS

Indigo Holcombe-James

Dr Indigo Holcombe-James

Lead Investigator

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Stephanie Livingstone

Stephanie Livingstone

PhD Student

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PARTNERS

Trust in ADM: Rethinking the anticipatory modes of technological determinism

PROJECT SUMMARY

Blurred colourful walkway

Trust in ADM: Rethinking the anticipatory modes of technological determinism

Focus Area: News and Media, Transport and Mobility, Health, and Social Services
Research Program: People
Status: Active

If we are to bring people into the process of ADM technology design then we need to ensure that the conceptual categories that frame theory and practice in innovation account for people.

This project interrogates a suite of anticipatory categories and the arrays of concepts that support them, which are commonly used in innovation narratives, amongst industry and policy stakeholders and in academic disciplines that are complicit with their agenda—such as human-computer interaction research and other computer science and engineering disciplines, and organisation studies.

It identifies the key categories and concepts, analyses how they are mobilised in narratives of innovation, their relationships to solutionist paradigms, how they structure processes of research and how they are actually implied in research and design practice.

The project unpicks the detail of the conceptual frameworks that inform ADM as well as the ways they are engaged in the everyday work practices of developers, designers, businesses and policy makers. It also asks how we might most fruitfully define and engage such categories and concepts, in order to use them to structure interdisciplinary collaboration.

The analysis will include established anticipatory categories common in technology discourses—of trust, barriers, anxiety and acceptance—as well as contemporary (and different types of) categories such as sharing, transparency and others, which are associated with new technologies and automation. Other new and emerging concepts and categories will be identified during the course of the research.

SUB-PROJECTS

PUBLICATIONS

Emerging Technologies / Life at the Edge of the Future, 2023

Pink, S.

Book

An Anthropology of Futures and Technologies, 2023

Lanzeni, D., Pink, S., et al.

Book

Trust in Automation, 2022

Pink, S., Lupton, D., et al.

Book

Digital social work: Conceptualising a hybrid anticipatory practice, 2022

Pink, S., et al.

Journal article

Sensuous futures: re-thinking the concept of trust in design anthropology, 2021

Pink, S.

Journal article

Trusting Autonomous Vehicles: an interdisciplinary approach, 2020

Raats, K., Fors, V., Pink, S.

Journal article

RESEARCHERS

Sarah Pink

Prof Sarah Pink

Chief Investigator,
Monash University

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Mark Andrejevic

Prof Mark Andrejevic

Chief Investigator,
Monash University

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Gerard Goggin

Prof Gerard Goggin

Associate Investigator,
Western Sydney University

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ADM+S partner investigator Vaike Fors

Prof Vaike Fors

Partner Investigator,
Halmstad University

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Emma Quilty

Dr Emma Quilty

Research Fellow,
Monash University

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Kaspar Raats

Kaspar Raats

PhD Student,
Monash University

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PARTNERS

Halmstad University logo

Halmstad University

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Volvo Logo

Volvo Cars (Sweden)

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Highway to the Sky

PROJECT SUMMARY

Blurred vision in airplane

Highway to the Sky

Focus Area: Transport & Mobilities
Research Program: People

Highway to the Sky is a short film co-created with 3 neuro-diverse artists and art therapist Isabelle Ashford from The Art to Wellbeing.

The participants in the workshops used collage, art works and dance to imagine future mobilities and explore what sensations arise from automated travel and what they would like to be automated (or not) in the future.

The creative process elicited reflection and thoughtful responses from the project participants and highlighted their sensory experiences.

Remembering the frustration they may have previously felt on the train, for instance, might create a tightness in their chest or a dizzy sensation.

By documenting experiences of the so-called 17%, the people who see the world differently, this project reveals biases and threats of automated transport mobilities and also uncovers creative opportunity and innovation.

SHORT FILM

RESEARCHERS

Jeni Lee

Jeni Lee

Lead Investigator,
Monash University

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Sarah Pink

Prof Sarah Pink

Chief Investigator,
Monash University

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Thao Phan

Dr Thao Phan

Research Fellow,
Monash University

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Emma Quilty

Dr Emma Quilty

Research Fellow,
Monash University

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RELATED PROJECTS

Flight Paths, Freeways and Railroads

PROJECT SUMMARY

My phone is my eyes

Flight Paths, Freeways and Railroads

Focus Area: Transport & Mobilities
Research Program: People

Through a series of short film vignettes, this research project explores how diverse participants currently experience transport mobilities and how automated technologies might be part of our future lives.

These films aim to surface impacts of ADM that haven’t been accounted for and explore barriers and biases propagated and amplified by ADM in society.

In 2021, filmmaker Jeni Lee accompanied and filmed two blind and one deaf participant as they moved around urban and regional spaces. The act of commuting was intended to elicit reflection and thoughtful responses from the research participants. Each participant’s commute forms the backbone and narrative arc of a short film.

Flight Paths, Freeways and Open Roads still preview

RESEARCHERS

Jeni Lee

Jeni Lee

Lead Investigator,
Monash University

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Sarah Pink

Prof Sarah Pink

Chief Investigator,
Monash University

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Thao Phan

Dr Thao Phan

Research Fellow,
Monash University

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Emma Quilty

Dr Emma Quilty

Research Fellow,
Monash University

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Future Automated Mobilities: Imaginaries and possibilities for a world in crisis

PROJECT SUMMARY

Pod Man Artwork

Future Automated Mobilities: Imaginaries and possibilities for a world in crisis

Focus Area: Transport & Mobilities
Research Program: People
Status: Active

Future visions of self-driving cars, digital mobility services, flying taxis and autonomous industrial vehicles dominate industry and policy hype; new mobilities technologies, communities and aspirations are rapidly shaping; and automated and connected mobility technologies are increasingly present, and unevenly distributed in everyday life.

Our research addresses how these and other shifts in and imaginaries of mobilities technologies, services, communities and personal trajectories are changing the landscape of everyday mobility, and reframes emerging automated and connected mobility technologies and data as part of inclusive and diverse everyday worlds and respectful, responsible futures.

To achieve this we will develop critical and innovative methods of research and engagement including documentary film and design materials.

This project will:

  1. Determine how future automated (and automated features of) transport mobilities are being reimagined in post COVID-19 and post-bushfire crisis -across industry, policy and everyday life.
  2. Investigate what can be done to design differently, so that we do not simply replicate the problem-solution paradigm of the innovation paradigm when considering the place of ADM in future mobilities.
  3. Develop innovative interventional and interdisciplinary (design ethnographic) research methods through which to undertake this research
  4. Propose pathways towards open designs that social innovation will play a part in and suggest how ADM might play an ethical, responsible and beneficial (to people) role?
How would you like to travel in the future?

REPORT

Automated Decision Making in Transport Mobilities - Front Cover

Automated decision making in transport mobilities: review of industry trends and visions for the future

12 August 2022

Read on APO

SUB-PROJECTS

RESEARCHERS

Thao Phan

Dr Thao Phan

Lead Investigator,
Monash University

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Sarah Pink

Prof Sarah Pink

Chief Investigator,
Monash University

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ADM+S partner investigator Vaike Fors

Prof Vaike Fors

Partner Investigator,
Halmstad University

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Jeni Lee

Jeni Lee

Research Fellow,
Monash University

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Emma Quilty

Dr Emma Quilty

Research Fellow,
Monash University

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Kaspar Raats

Kaspar Raats

PhD Student,
Monash University

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PARTNERS

Halmstad University logo

Halmstad University

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Seeing the Road Ahead

PROJECT SUMMARY

Seeing the road ahead

Seeing the Road Ahead

Focus Area: Transport & Mobilities
Research Program: People

Vision is central to the field of autonomous vehicle (AV) research. While much of the research into AVs has focused on the technical aspects of vision, such as object recognition and sensor development, this project turns instead to its social, cultural, and political dimensions.

Our goal is to counter corporate and industry visions of self-driving cars by using creative methods to explore alternate visions.

These visions are drawn from Australian popular culture as well as through interactive, creative workshops with everyday Australian people. We hope that these methods help us to develop a uniquely national case study, and to demonstrate the value of using creative methods for understanding speculative and emerging technologies.

RESEARCHERS

Thao Phan

Dr Thao Phan

Lead Investigator,
Monash University

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Sarah Pink

Prof Sarah Pink

Chief Investigator,
Monash University

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Jeni Lee

Jeni Lee

Research Fellow,
Monash University

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Emma Quilty

Dr Emma Quilty

Research Fellow,
Monash University

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RELATED PROJECTS