Research centre to study ethical autonomous decision-making

RMIT University

Friday, 11 October, 2019

Research centre to study ethical autonomous decision-making

A new research centre is set to explore the safe and ethical use of autonomous decision-making technologies after receiving $31.8 million in government funding.

The RMIT University-hosted Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making will be led by RMIT Professor Julian Thomas and is expected to attract international national experts from the humanities sector and technological and social sciences.

Prof Thomas said the project would help ensure machine learning and decision-making technologies are used responsibly, ethically and inclusively.

“From artificial intelligence to the blockchain and big data, automated systems are changing our everyday life,” he said.

“New systems offer enormous benefits in many areas but they also pose substantial risks to our privacy and security, and to our welfare as citizens and consumers.

“We urgently need a much deeper understanding of the potential risks of the new technologies, and the best strategies for mitigating these risks.

“Working with international partners and industry, the research will help Australians gain the full benefits of these new technologies, from better mobility to improving our responses to humanitarian emergencies.”

Minister for Education Dan Tehan, who announced the investment, said the government is “funding research into automated decision-making to ensure this technology provides the best possible outcomes for society and industry”.

“Researchers will formulate world-leading policy and practice, inform public debate, and train a new generation of researchers and practitioners,” he said.

RMIT University Vice-Chancellor and President Martin Bean CBE is excited about the new centre.

“We have a long history of operating at the intersection of technology and the human experience and, working closely with industry and other partners around the world, we’re focused on improving life for our communities in a time of constant change,” he said.

“We are delighted that the centre encapsulates RMIT’s approach to tackling challenging problems in both policy and practice.”

Researchers from RMIT University will collaborate with experts at seven Australian universities and 22 academic and industry partner organisations from Australia, Europe, Asia and America. Together they will provide an additional $39.3 million in cash and in-kind support to the centre.

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