School of
Information Technology and Electrical Engineering

Addressing the questions arising from the social and ethical concerns around artificial intelligence requires fundamental research and investigation in topics such as explainability and interpretability as well as algorithm fairness. The technical and social disciplines can and must inform each other.

Social Implications of Artificial Intelligence

AIs deployment commercial, government, welfare and educational realms is providing opportunities for enhancing social, cultural and economic life. Information, goods and services can be individually curated, advertised and customised. Health problems can be better identified and treated. Criminal and self-harm behaviours monitored and intervened. Transportation can be made safer and more efficient. AI robotics can provide important assistance to people and organisations.

Using AIs also generates a range of challenging legal, ethical and regulatory challenges, and potential negative social, cultural and economic consequences. In addition to long-standing issues of privacy, data protection and surveillance, the use of AIs is generating concerns around increasing social and economic inequalities, reproducing and exacerbating discrimination and social biases (by ethnicity, gender, etc.), extremist views and fake news can be promoted, transparency and openness. Moreover, if things go wrong, it is unclear whom or what is responsible and how can such errors be fixed. AI can also become a weapon to undermine social trust, and automate online abuse.

Researchers are working with government and industry to develop new analytical frameworks and organisational arrangement for developing ethical and responsible AI. Ways to update our legal and regulatory frameworks to encompass rapidly emerging technologies is being investigated. Technical tools that enable the development and assessment of ethical AI are being built. Research is being undertaken to research to better understand the personal experience of AI based decision making.

Our Team

The Intersection of Genomics and AI

Our research investigates the ethical, legal and social implications of the use of genetic technology in healthcare, as well as outside the health system with at-home commercial DNA tests and in the forensic context. Along with the development of more efficient next generation sequencing technologies, there is an increasing use of algorithms to make predictions of physical traits, as well as predisposition for disease, mental health, and behaviour. There is a growing urgency to examine the ethical, legal and social dimensions of these powerful new tools. We are working with Genomics Queensland on ELSI issues, and this work has included communicating this information to Queensland MPs in a Parliamentary Briefing.

Because the human genome can reveal sensitive information and is potentially re-identifiable, which raises privacy and security concerns about sharing such data on wide scales. We are working on privacy-preserving sharing methods for genome-wide analysis, that use machine learning algorithms. We aim to achieve a global resource for hosting and sharing genetic and phenotypic data in a way that both ethically satisfies people’s fundamental interests in their data while, at the same time, efficiently facilitating the use of it for research, development, and commercialization. We are working with Uniquest on the development and commercialization of this work.

Our Team