An international consortium of experts led by The University of Western Australia’s Tech & Policy Lab and Indian non-profit IT for Change has been awarded $494,220 from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in the latest funding round for the Australia-India Cyber and Critical Technology Cooperation Partnership.
“The project will build a state-of-the-art knowledge base about how States enable ethical practice in the key innovation domains of agriculture, health and cities.
Associate Professor Julia Powles, UWA Tech & Policy Lab Director
The award was announced by the Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Tim Watts MP, at the University of Sydney on 31 August 2023, as the largest of six projects that “will form the foundations of our technological future”.
“These projects have been selected because of their potential to influence international discourse and policy-making in cyber and critical technology, and most of all they’ve been selected because of the opportunity they present to inspire collaboration and innovation between our countries,” Assistant Minister Watts said.
The two-year international research project, Effective Ethical Frameworks for the State as an Enabler of Innovation, aims to deliver a model framework for how governments in the Indo-Pacific can enable ethical practice and responsible innovation in cyber and critical technologies.
The Australian arm of the international research team is led by the co-directors of the UWA Tech & Policy Lab, Associate Professor of Law and Technology Julia Powles and Professor of Biomechanics and Applied Machine Learning Jacqueline Alderson.
Chief Investigator Powles said the new project turns the traditional way of looking at ethical frameworks on its head.
“Rather than focus on how particular ethical principles guide individual and organisational behaviour, we search behind ethical frameworks to identify the backstop of the State,” Associate Professor Powles said.
“Our research will explore how governments use levers such as funding, procurement, registration and regulation to ensure ethical conduct in practice.
“One of the great strengths of the Australian-Indian research team is that it takes a wide view on the ethical terrain surrounding data, automation and artificial intelligence.
“The project will build a state-of-the-art knowledge base about how States enable ethical practice in the key innovation domains of agriculture, health and cities. We will interrogate the drivers of ethical practice in these discrete domains, and how do they might be adapted and strengthened to deal with the challenges of emerging and critical technologies.
“The ideal partners for this work are our colleagues at IT for Change and the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, who bring deep expertise and shared commitments to the development and safeguarding of digital public goods and infrastructure. We are so fortunate to be learning with them in this project.”
The Australia-India Cyber and Critical Technology Cooperation Partnership program funds research collaborations to help Australia and India shape a global technology environment that meets both nations’ shared vision of an open, free, rules-based Indo-Pacific region.