The Ethics of Automation

The Australian government is handing over $A32M to a new research centre hosted at RMIT University that will investigate how rapidly emerging autonomous decision-making technologies can be used safely and ethically.

The Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society will bring together national and international experts from the humanities, and the social and technological sciences.

Australian Minister for Education, Dan Tehan, said automated decision-making technology was being used in self-driving cars or algorithms that were 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," he said.

RMIT Professor Julian Thomas, who will lead the centre, said, "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.”