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ACS Panel to Explore Social and Ethical Concerns Relating to AI


Wednesday 23 August 2017 – The social and ethical issues associated with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and their implications for Australian society will be the focus of a lunch-time panel discussion hosted by the ACS (Australian Computer Society) in Melbourne this Thursday.

The panel, entitled “Re-engineering Industries with Artificial Intelligence & the Social Contract” is being held in association with IJCAI, the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence and is one of three panels involving ACS President, Anthony Wong.

While much attention has been focused on possible job losses associated with AI, robotics and automation – with predictions varying from 20 to 45 per cent of jobs being replaced by technology – little attention has been paid to the huge potential impacts on privacy, social interactions, legal judgements, health and well-being, wealth distribution and more.

Mr Wong said it’s critical that our leaders understand and debate these social and ethical issues or risk having Australians miss out on many of the benefits AI can offer.

“There’s a lot of discussion about the displacement of workers due to AI and automation because that’s an obvious potential side-effect, but we also need to consider how humans will respond emotionally and socially as AI systems increasingly pervade our lives,” he said.

“With so many industries already being disrupted due to emerging AI systems, what else is coming down the line and who will it affect? What sectors will be most impacted and how can we prepare for the inevitable changes?

“How can our universities prepare the next generation of professionals for an AI-pervasive world? And what is the role for government in preparing our citizens and providing appropriate constraints for AI and autonomous systems?” the ACS President asks.

On the panel, Mr Wong will be joined by:

·         His global counterpart, Mike Hinchey, President of IFIP (International Federation for Information Processing);

·         The former President of the British Computer Society (BCS), Liz Bacon; and

·         Marita Cheng, Founder and CEO of aubot (formerly called 2Mar Robotics), founder of RoboGals Global and 2012 Young Australian of the Year, who provides AI solutions for people with disabilities.

“Professional associations like the ACS, BCS and IFIP are very committed to ensuring that any applications of technology are designed and implemented in ways that are beneficial for the broader society and help to improve peoples’ quality of life. With the addition of Ms Cheng, a social entrepreneur in her own right, this panel is certain to raise some interesting perspectives on AI-related issues,” he said. For information about the lunch-time panel discussion click here.

Mr Wong is also involved in two other panel sessions as part of the IJCAI Industry Day on Friday 25th August.

How to Start an AI Company

On Friday morning, he will participate in the "How to Start an AI Company" panel, appearing alongside:

·         Jonathan Chang, founder and managing director of Silverpond;

·         Marco Lui, data science team lead at Rome2rio;

·         Elizabeth Stark, co-founder and managing director at Symbolix;

·         Julian Bright, co-founder of Amelie.AI; and

·         Moderator Andy Kitchen, who runs the AI&ML Melbourne meetup.

The Future of AI

On Friday afternoon, Mr Wong will moderate a panel on “The Future of AI” which will bring together senior technical experts and business leaders from IBM, Infosys, Alibaba and Carnegie Mellon University to debate where AI is going and how we can best prepare.

Panellists include:

·         Andrew Groth, Senior Vice President, Infosys

·         Dr Stefan Harrer, Manager Brain-Inspired Computing, IBM Research

·         Tuomas Sandholm, Professor of Computer Science and Machine Learning, Carnegie Mellon University

·         Dr Hongxia Yang, Director in Data Technology and Product Division, Alibaba Group

Mr Wong said this panel will also explore issues such as the legal status of AI systems. “What happens when something goes wrong – who is liable? The robot? Its designer or manufacturer? What about when autonomous systems develop original IP, new products or creative works of art – who owns those if no human has contributed to their creation?

“These are all issues that are important for businesses, governments and consumers to be considered as AI increasingly moves towards its promise of having equal or even superior thinking capabilities to humans,” he said.

ACS is proud to be an organising institution of IJCAI-17 along with IJCAI itself and the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), and as a Gold Sponsor of the conference program being held 19 – 25 August 2017. In particular, ACS congratulates ACS Fellow Professor Chengqi Zhang and the ACS National Special Interest Group on Artificial Intelligence for their efforts over many years in playing a key role in bringing the IJCAI conference to Australia. For more information visit


About the ACS

The ACS is the professional association for Australia's Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. Over 22,000 ACS members work in business, education, government and the community. The ACS exists to create the environment and provide the opportunities for members and partners to succeed. The ACS strives for ICT professionals to be recognised as drivers of innovation in our society, relevant across all sectors, and to promote the formulation of effective policies on ICT and related matters. Visit for more information.

Media contacts:

Sylvia Bell, ACS, +61 449 902 130 [email protected]

Alexander Liddington-Cox, Media + Capital Partners, +61 474 701 469 [email protected]