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Human Rights and Emerging Technologies: an Interdisciplinary Approach

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2 hrs

Meet the Expert

Verity Firth

Verity Firth
Executive Director

Verity is the UTS Executive Director, Social Justice and leads the Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion at UTS. She is currently spearheading the University’s Social Impact Framework, a first of its kind in the Australian University sector. Other initiatives of the centre include equity and diversity policy and programs, university outreach into low SES schools, the award winning Shopfront Community Engagement Program, the UTS Social Impact Lab and the Athena Swan Equal Futures program.

Verity has over 15 years’ experience at the highest levels of government and the not-for-profit sector in Australia. Over the last 10 years, she has been working in the Australian Education sector, first as Minister for Education and Training in NSW (2008-2011) and then as the Chief Executive of the Public Education Foundation.

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Edward Santow

Edward Santow
Director, Policy and Governance, UTS Human Technology Institute

Edward is an Industry Professor – Responsible Technology at UTS and leads the Human Technology Institute (HTI) with Prof Nicholas Davis and Prof Sally Cripps. This major UTS initiative is building a future that applies human values to new technology, supporting Australian business and government in responsible innovation - by developing and using AI that is powerful, effective and fair.

Ed was previously Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner (2016-2021), and led the most influential project worldwide on the human rights and social implications of AI. Before that he was Chief Executive of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, a leading non-profit organisation that promotes human rights. He was also previously a Senior Lecturer at UNSW Law School, a research director at the Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law and a solicitor in private practice.

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Christopher Lawrence

Christopher Lawrence
Director (Indigenous Engagement), Associate Professor

Christopher is an Aboriginal health and wellbeing researcher. He has a background in education and a Master’s of Applied Epidemiology and PhD in Indigenous health and lifestyle choices. He has been a chief investigator on many research grants including an NHMRC Tripartite study exploring Indigenous Resilience in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. He was also the 2008-2009 Australian-American Fulbright Indigenous Scholarship recipient and studied at Harvard University.

In 2016 Christopher was awarded an Australian Research Council grant to explore how technology can help close the gap. He is now the head of the Centre for Indigenous Technology Research and Development in the School of Software at UTS.

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Professor David Lindsay

Professor David Lindsay
Professor UTS Law

David joined UTS Faculty of Law in 2018 after previously working at Monash University. David is an expert in law and technology, and is widely published in the areas of copyright, privacy, cyberlaw and communications law.

He is the author of International Domain Name Law (Hart, 2007) and co-author of Copyright's Public Domains (CUP, 2018). At UTS he teaches Equity and Trusts, Copyright and Designs, and is the convenor of the Applied Project in Law, Innovation and Technology. David is General Editor of the Australian Intellectual Property Journal and a board member of the Australian Privacy Foundation.

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Phillippa Carnemolla

Phillippa Carnemolla
Senior Research Fellow, Built Environment

Phillippa is an industrial designer specialising in the design and evaluation of inclusive environments, products and information. Her research investigates the breadth of health, care and social impacts resulting from inclusive design approaches, including smart cities, ageing in place and disability housing models. 

In her role as Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Design Architecture and Building at UTS, Phillippa works on a diverse range of projects which investigate the impact of the inclusive and participatory design practice on service provision, caregiving and quality of life for older people and people living with disability.

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Nicole Vincent

Nicole Vincent
Senior Lecturer

Having taught digital logic and computer systems engineering in the mid-1990 at Swinburne University, in 1998 Dr Vincent obtained her BA (Hons) with majors in computer science and philosophy from La Trobe University. In 2006 she taught political philosophy, philosophy of law, and professional ethics at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and in 2007 she obtained her PhD from the University of Adelaide with a dissertation in philosophy of law entitled "Responsibility, Compensation and Accident Law Reform". Between 2007 and 2016, while working at Technische Universiteit Delft in The Netherlands, she developed an enduring passion for the ethics of emerging technologies. From 2013 until 2017 she was Associate Professor of Philosophy, Law, and Neuroscience at Georgia State University in the USA. In 2017 she returned to Australia and taught political philosophy and metaphysics at Macquarie University, media at the University of New South Wales. In 2018 Dr Vincent joined the Transdisciplinary School at University of Technology Sydney as Senior Lecturer in a range of subjects.

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Simon Buckingham Shum

Simon Buckingham Shum

Simon is a Professor of Learning Informatics at UTS, where he is Director of the Connected Intelligence Centre. Formerly, he taught at the Knowledge Media Institute of the Open University, UK. He brings a human-centred informatics (HCI) approach to his work, with a background in psychology (BSc, York), ergonomics (MSc, London) and HCI (PhD, York). 

Simon's work in learning analytics (i.e.  educational data science and artificial intelligence) focuses on the design of automated feedback to provoke deeper reflection in students and educators. He is particularly interested in equipping students to be lifelong learners, e.g. thinking critically and reflectively and working well in teams. 

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Our world is changing in profound ways, through new and emerging applications of artificial intelligence (AI), big data and other evolving technologies. Such advancements hold immense potential to improve lives and connect people. But we need to also be aware of the impact on human rights.

About this course

This is a free, self-paced online course. 

In 2018, UTS and the Australian Human Rights Commission began a partnership to facilitate, guide and lead public conversation on how to protect and promote human rights in the context of a new era of technological development.

We aimed to work together to develop innovative ways to ensure human rights are prioritised in the design and regulation of new technologies and to consider how policies, incentives and other tools can be used more effectively to promote human rights in a changing world.

In March of 2020, the Design Innovation Research Centre at UTS partnered with the UTS Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion to facilitate a workshop with the Australian Human Rights Commission. 

Representatives of the Commission, including Commissioner Ed Santow, met alongside 30 academics and practitioners from across the University’s faculties and institutes. 

This free course presents the findings of the workshop. In addition, academics with backgrounds ranging from law, engineering, transdisciplinary innovation and the built environment will discuss their contributions to this important project and share their knowledge and perspectives.

Course structure

This course uses a case study approach in which participants are presented with an authentic real-world problem and an in-depth analysis of the solution. Participants are then asked to consider how the solution could be applied to other real-world problems they might encounter in the field they work in.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this free course, participants will be able to:

  • List the impacts of the workshop on a range of initiatives related to human rights approaches to emerging technologies
  • Explain what is meant by an 'interdisciplinary approach'
  • Describe the benefits of an interdisciplinary approach in investigating complex issues
  • Appreciate the four general principles used to guide thinking about artificial intelligence and human rights.

Who is this course for?

This case study is suitable for anyone interested in how experts work together to develop innovative ways to ensure human rights are prioritised in the design and regulation of new technologies and to consider how policies, incentives and other tools can be used more effectively to promote human rights in a changing world. These experts range from fields such as human rights, social justice and social inclusion, law, engineering, transdisciplinary innovation and the built environment.       

Acknowledgement of Country

UTS acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the Boorooberongal people of the Dharug Nation, the Bidiagal people and the Gamaygal people, upon whose ancestral lands our university stands. We would also like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present, acknowledging them as the traditional custodians of knowledge for these lands.