New research centre at RMIT to improve automated decision making

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The Federal Government has announced $31.8 million in funding for a new research centre that will investigate responsible, ethical, and inclusive automated decision making.

Located at RMIT University, the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society will be led by RMIT Professor Julian Thomas, bringing together national and international experts from the humanities, and the social and technological sciences.

RMIT Vice-Chancellor and President Martin Bean CBE said the one of its kind centre would position Australia at the forefront of global research.

“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,” Mr Bean said.

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

In announcing the investment, Minister for Education Dan Tehan said researchers at the new Centre will formulate world-leading policy and practice, inform public debate, and train a new generation of researchers and practitioners.

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“Automated decision making is the process where machines make decisions without human involvement,” Mr Tehan continued.

“This technology is being used in self-driving cars or algorithms that are used to make medical diagnosis and business decisions.

“This technology has great potential to transform the efficiency of industry, as well as public and private services, however, as with all technology, it is prudent to explore how to mitigate any possible risks.”

Professor Thomas said the project would help ensure machine learning and decision-making technologies were used ‘responsibly, ethically and inclusively’.

He said researchers from RMIT will collaborate with experts at seven other Australian universities and 22 academic and industry partner organisations from Australia, Europe, Asia and America, who will provide an additional $39.3 million in cash and in-kind support, including access to top national and international facilities, systems and research expertise.

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

Image credit: https://www.rmit.edu.au