Making a fairer society through technological innovation

Monday 12 November 2018

Nicholas Davis speaking at Society 4.0 forum.

Nicholas Davis speaking at the Society 4.0 Forum on the topic of machine learning.

In summary

  • Machine learning and its impact across different groups in Australia explored by Swinburne’s Nicholas Davis at the Society 4.0 Forum
  • Mr Davis’s research focuses on the intersection between technology, innovation and social issues

Machine learning and its impact across different groups in Australia was explored by Swinburne Research Fellow and society and innovation thought leader, Nicholas Davis, as part of the Society 4.0 Forum held at Swinburne last week.

Hosted by Swinburne’s Social Innovation Research Institute, the Society 4.0 Forum discussed the emerging digital economy - what it may mean for citizens, workers’ rights and wellbeing. In a world where data is the new currency, artificial intelligence may be used to drive decisions and automation is the new norm.

Mr Davis brought his unique experience as Head of Society and Innovation at the World Economic Forum (Switzerland) to the forum, presenting a workshop titled ‘Governing Artificial Intelligence: Balancing Innovation and Justice’

“What is interesting and unique is to look at the intersection between technology, innovation and social issues,” says Mr Davis.

While Mr Davis began his career working in employment law, he eventually moved into economic consulting with a focus on international policy.

“Ever since then I’ve looked at the tension between social issues as they manifest in communities and businesses and the high level national or international policy that affects the conditions which we understand or work in, particularly at the government level or strategy level for big corporations.”

For the past twelve years, he has worked at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland

Joining Swinburne

Mr Davis joined Swinburne in November 2017, after Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Development) Professor Aleksandar Subic became interested in his research. 

“I was presenting at a conference that Professor Subic was attending and he approached me afterwards, saying he saw a common thread in the work I was doing and the groundbreaking research Swinburne was doing in their Social Innovation Research Institute,” says Mr Davis.

“I’m super excited about the applied aspect of Swinburne’s work and the fact that this has the opportunity to go beyond theory and insight and embed it into what companies and community groups are doing.”

Machine learning

Mr Davis hopes his workshop at the Society 4.0 Forum helped facilitate an exchange of views and boost marginalised voices.

The workshop explored ideas of how society can ensure that the design and use of artificial intelligence and machine learning is aligned with the long term interests of Australians.

“We are not just talking about value from new technologies, but making sure that value is shared appropriately and reaches all groups. We want to improve the egalitarian nature of the Australian economy and Australia’s future.”

“Swinburne and the Social Innovation Research Institute can bring big value by making the process of technology development across all sectors more thoughtful, more structured and of more long-term benefit to Australians.”