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Video transcripts

Society 4.0 2018 digital white papers

Society 4.0 digital white paper 1

Data, technology, systems and transformation
Nick Davis (World Economic Forum)

Nick spoke about the need for humanity to be the core focus of the 4th Industrial Revolution.  He spoke of three myths that should always be challenged:

  1. Technological determinism – technology is not determining society, rather humans are making the technology
  2. Technology is overwhelming and we must either choose to accept it or reject it – we have the capacity to open conversation and question technology
  3. Technology is a value-neutral tool – technologies are political and value-laden 

Nick believes now is the time to bring social science research, reflective practice, community expectations and public discourse to challenge what we have taken for granted regarding technological change.  It is time to close the gap between law makers and technology developers.  Historically, the Product Design and Development stages of the Technology Development Cycle received the most attention when experiencing problematic technology.  Nick spoke about the need for other influences of the Technology Development Cycle to be included in conversations during times of technological calamity.  These include: the organisational culture and business models, system incentive structure, technological architecture and investment portfolio rationales. Nick’s major theme of his talk centred around the need to view technology development as value based.  The Fourth Industrial Revolution needs a society who looks at systems, not technologies, who sees technology as empowering, not determining and as a product of design, rather than default.


Society 4.0 digital white paper 2

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Australia
Ed Santow (Australian Human Rights Commission)

Ed Santow spoke about the risks and threats of big social change, especially regarding the trend for trusting machines to make important decisions for us, rather than trusting other human beings and their decision making abilities. As human decision making can be irrational and prejudice, machine decisions should take this negativity away, he wondered if this is really the case.  Are the decisions machines make prejudice to certain groups of society? During these times of social change, Ed spoke about how society is beginning to recognise the importance of our personal data and privacy, and the need to reinforce and protect our basic Human Rights as we head towards Society 4.0.


Society 4.0 digital white paper 3

Realities of community organisations using data and data analytics in the USA
Viki Englert (BrightHive)

Vyki’s discussion centred around practical advice for practitioners.  Vyki’s presentation was based on the presumption that the technology the government needs isn’t hard, instead change is hard.  She believes that technology could solve social services problems faster, however trust is at an all time low.  Vyki’s personal goal is to build and maintain trust in the communities she works alongside, and she encouraged others to do the same.  Vyki outlined a number of steps to successfully do this including: scoping the problem first, the importance of consent, listening, adapting rather than changing and doing this iteratively, align incentives, remember the means are the ends, plan and budget for maintenance, benchmark friction and measure goals, evaluate metrics frequently, document your bias, solve for equity, be aware of threats and pay it forward (i.e. be prepared to help others).


Society 4.0 digital white paper 4

What happens when user voice, collaboration & tech collide in the non-profit sector?
Tris Lumley (Think New Philanthropy Capital)

Tris Lumley focused on what happens when user voice, collaboration and technology collide, with a particular focus on the non-profit sector, and the role the non-profit sector plays for social good and social impact.  Tris spoke of the need for both the charity sector and the private sector to collaborate and use technology for good by walking the talk! He explained that community consultation is imperative to find answers to what the community needs and wants, otherwise technology is doomed to fail.  Tris’ most important message was around ownership of data; As non-profits work on behalf of individuals and communities, the need to recognise that data belongs to them is an important consideration in data for public good initiatives.  This recognition of data ownership is one important part of putting communities at the centre and solidarity is the answer moving forward.


Society 4.0 digital white paper 5

How will the data economy affect work?
Beth Webster (Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research Impact and Policy, Swinburne University of Technology)

Beth views Industry 4.0 as automation + data exchange + digital technologies.  Beth discussed the major transformations in the workplace and the implications for workers including:

  • That the ultimate impact of enabled technology is slow, due to the diffusion of technology development to mainstream use, and that repetitive and routine tasks are being replaced by digitisation.
  • Labour is now the major asset of organisations, particularly skilled labour with a move away from machinery and equipment.  The move from routine jobs such as routine assembly and labouring jobs in manufacturing to analytic (professional, scientific, technical and financial services roles) is evident.
  • The onward march of the global product means digitisation is improving automation via logistics, mobile tracking, warehousing, analytics and feedback.
  • Society must focus on programs to re-train, re-educate, re-locate and adjust technology. HECS-HELP loans must be kept, social security systems need reform and the community sector needs help.


Society 4.0 digital white paper 6

Industry & Society 4.0
Bronwyn Fox (Manufacturing Future Research Institute, Swinburne University of Technology)

Bronwyn’s overall message was that digitalisation will change the world. We must mindfully think of the social outcomes to ensure digitalisation has a positive impact on society, enabling us to solve big problems around energy, communications and transport.

Bronwyn discussed digitalisation from an international perspective, paying particular attention to Germany.  Germany’s working groups, supported by government, bring together industry bodies, politicians, academics and trade unions.  Their test labs, each with its own focus and relevance, are examples of successful digitalisation initiatives.  Bronwyn spoke about future opportunities for Australia; she discussed the need to address both the Innovation Gap – the gap between research and business collaboration – and the Productivity Gap – where a shortage of full time workers is expected in the near future due to the retirement wave.  Opportunities to address these issues include encouraging industry and universities to work together, and digitalisation to address productivity challenges.


Society 4.0 digital white paper 7

Work in the data economy - what action is needed now to ensure good work for all?
Andrew Dettmer (Australian Manufacturers Workers Union)

Andrew Dettmer discussed Australia’s decline in union membership, and how unions work for the aspirations of workers.  As we move toward Industry 4.0 he spoke about those medium level jobs requiring minimal cognitive input will be negatively impacted, and the more complex jobs will be enhanced.

Andrew introduced the findings from AMWU research for the very first time to the Society 4.0 Forum.  Their survey found that:

  • Workers are being trusted to act with autonomy, however they are constricted to very limited parameters. 
  • Workers would like to play a bigger role in their organisations
  • Workers are not being given a say, or consulted as to how technology could be best used in their workplaces.
  • Workers believe productivity will be improved with an employee consultative committee focused on genuine business decisions.

Andrew discussed how this broken system, that continues to be defended, needs to change if business is to engage with their workers.


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