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Talk abstracts

Indigenous-led science innovation – insights from the Antipodean 

Cathy Robinson, Ricky Archer, Landon Brady, Lee Bevan, Troy Casey, Chrissy Grant, Rob Barton, Tim Kastelle, Shane Kennelly, Taryn Kong, Julie-ann Lambourne, Emma Lee, Justin Perry, Murray Saylor, Jade Ritchie, Ruth Wallace

Indigenous-led science innovation that supports long-term sustainable outcomes for Indigenous people and their estates is a major challenge identified in several international and national policy agendas. Despite vast Indigenous, public, and private sector investment there are few practical examples that show how to empower Indigenous-led science entrepreneurship and avoid unintended or unwanted outcomes from science innovation. This paper outlines an approach we developed to apply Indigenous-led design thinking and innovation ethics to govern and support team efforts to build partnerships between Indigenous communities and scientists; co-develop and test if scientific, technical and community solutions are feasible; and seek business development opportunities to translate these solutions into Indigenous-supported real-world impact.

The problem of automating justice: Understanding the intersection of responsible innovation and human rights in the Antipodean 

Amelia Radkeab and David M. Douglasc

a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Policy Futures, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. b Visiting Scientist, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Brisbane, Australia. c Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Brisbane, Australia.

New and emerging technologies can provide immense social, economic, and health benefits. However, these technologies can also entrench inequality and discrimination within society. Throughout the Antipodean, the uptake of data-driven technologies and algorithmic systems that aim to support the decision-making process is transforming how people navigate the provision of social services in the criminal justice system. In this paper, we will draw on case studies from across Australia and New Zealand to explore how tensions can arise for at-risk populations who may be subjected to these technologies. This paper responds to the growing recognition within the Antipodean around the potential role responsible innovation can have in upholding the human rights of diverse peoples. We suggest that the dimensions of anticipation, deliberation, reflection, and responsiveness as illustrated through a responsible innovation framework, provides one avenue to assure a fair and just outcome in the deployment of data-driven technologies and algorithmic systems in the criminal justice system and social services. Reflecting on the work of Ruha Benjamin, Virginia Eubanks, and Cathy O’Neil, we will explore in what ways automated decision systems might be used in the criminal justice system without compromising due process, access to justice, and human rights in settler-colonial countries.

Antipodean responsible innovation: integrating Asian perspectives and implications for the Asia-Pacific region 

John Noel Viana

Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science (CPAS), ANU College of Science, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia; Responsible Innovation Future Science Platform, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Publications on responsible innovation (RI) from Australian and New Zealand authors, and on topics concerning these countries, have increased in the recent years. However, academic discussions on RI in Asia and by Asian authors remain limited, despite the concept being used by the United Nations in several workshops in the region. This presentation will reflect on the importance of integrating Asian perspectives into Antipodean RI and on potential implications of Antipodean RI to RI theory and practice in the Asia-Pacific region. With the increasing number of Asian immigrants and people of Asian descent in Australia and New Zealand, in what ways can Antipodean RI acknowledge this diversity and consider Asian perspectives and cultural values on RI concepts, processes, and outcomes? What lessons from an Asian-inclusive Antipodean RI can be useful for regions with growing Asian populations in the USA and Canada? How can an Asian-acknowledging Antipodean RI help initiate conversations on RI in Asian countries, and what aspects from it may be translatable? Using responsible innovation in precision health as an example, this presentation will reflect on these questions and highlight avenues for integrating Asian perspectives into RI research and for potential contributions of this integration to RI discourses in the Asia-Pacific region.

Exploring Responsible Innovation in the Aotearoa New Zealand Science System | Panel discussion

In Aotearoa New Zealand, Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) are government-owned companies that carry out scientific research for public good as well as provide commercial services and research. The context for CRIs, as Crown entities, includes meeting obligations under Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Aotearoa New Zealand’s founding treaty between Māori and colonial settlers. These obligations have prompted many researchers to reflect on the power dynamics within their science projects, considering who gets to make decisions about what research is in the public good, who benefits, and how it should be carried out. Some of this work is explicitly framed as Responsible Innovation (RI) while other frameworks have their own internal logic which could be seen as aligned with RI. 

This panel will explore what RI approaches could and should look like for science research in Aotearoa, and particularly within CRIs as this is the panel members’ context. The panel will first frame the discussion around how RI can be thought about in Aotearoa, focusing on literature that provides guidance on implementing Tiriti-based partnerships. Secondly the panel will discuss empirical findings on practicing responsible research within CRIs and universities. This will lead into an overview of challenges for RI within the Aotearoa science system, including a conversation about the practicalities of embedding Tiriti-based and responsible processes within one CRI. 

The second part of the panel is a facilitated discussion with attendees, around questions initially posed by the panel members. It is anticipated that the ideas will be discussed firstly with reference to the context of Aotearoa, and secondly with reference to the Australian context. 

Panel members:

  • Martin Espig, Social Scientist – AgResearch 
  • Susanna Finlay-Smits, Social Scientist – AgResearch
  • Chris Koroheke, Kaiurungi (Māori Strategy & Engagement Manager) – AgResearch
  • Peter Edwards, Senior Researcher – Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research
  • Mat Walton, Technical Lead Social Systems – Institute of Environmental Science and Research
  • Suzanne Manning, Social Scientist – Institute of Environmental Science and Research
Located response-abilities in technology production: Reimagining the role of social scientists in responsible research and innovation

Karly Burch, University of Otago

Katharine Legun, Wageningen University

There is a growing recognition that it is necessary to better understand the social aspects of technology design, adoption and use in innovation projects. Emerging out of Europe, responsible research and innovation (RRI) has been actively promoting this trend, advocating for more mutual responsiveness between technologists and wider society. This has provided opportunities for social scientists to enter research and development processes. While RRI works to overcome the boundaries (e.g., between disciplines and people) which threaten the relevance and potential adoption of new technologies, there remains a need for more practical guidance on how researchers can skilfully navigate and address boundaries that obstruct responsiveness within particular places and social relations. Drawing on interviews with project team members and our own experiences as embedded social scientists within a large-scale trans-disciplinary co-design project in Aotearoa New Zealand, we propose located response-ability as an analytic tool to situate, articulate, address and anticipate existing and emerging boundaries that affect responsiveness in research and design processes. We elaborate on this concept using examples related to IP processes and co-design inclusion in AgTech. We argue that expanding abilities to notice boundaries (e.g., boundaries between developers and users which uphold linear transfer of technology models) and associated power dynamics (e.g., an expert-lay divide) can encourage interdisciplinary research teams to reimagine the role of social scientists within co-design projects: from trying to predict technology adoption to supporting team members in articulating, addressing and anticipating particular barriers to responsiveness which might threaten the integrity and value of their technologies.

Applying Responsible Innovation Frameworks to Local Food Movements in Australia & the Pimeria Alta: The role of marks and designations 

Mr. Chris Sauer (RhD Student) Uniquely Australian Foods Training Centre, University of Queensland

Dr. Allison Fish, CSIRO-UQ Responsible Innovation Collaboration, Centre for Policy Futures, University of Queensland

The impact of scientific and technological innovations, both positive and negative, has the potential to fundamentally transform society. Responsible Research Innovation (RRI) and Responsible Innovation (RI) are approaches that, among other things, aim to ensure research maximizes the benefits and minimizes the problematic implications of new innovations.[1] The central tenets of RI can be described in a variety of ways and understanding the practice is heavily context dependent. However, at a minimum, RI practice includes a commitment towards anticipation, reflexivity, inclusive deliberation, openness, and responsiveness – tenets that can be overlapping, cross-cutting, or at odds with one another. Balancing various RI concerns is often the result of complex technical, scientific, social, legal, and ethical considerations, as well as the unconscious or invisible habits and preferences of individual researchers. Taken together, these factors – and the research outcomes they lead to – can be difficult to clearly communicate to a wide range of stakeholders that includes scientists, researchers, government, industry, local communities, and the general public. Despite this, being transparent about the choices that shape research practice is an essential aspect of RI. If done well, RI has the potential to enhance trust, facilitate public engagement, account for and ameliorate risk, and encourage the intelligent adoption of emerging technologies that broadly benefit society. However, if done poorly, then our social and scientific institutions will be unable to grasp available opportunities and this will slow the pace of innovation and limit the ability of research to deliver benefit.

Paper Aim: Developing and Communicating an Antipodean RI Approach

This paper proposes to explore and facilitate the delivery of Responsible Innovation Labels that Australian researchers can use to make their practice transparent (i.e., both visible and legible) to specialist and non-specialist audiences. In doing so, it draws upon similar initiatives including;

  • The Creative Commons Licensing suite which uses simple icons to clearly communicate the creator’s intent when placing materials into the knowledge commons. Through simple icons a user can quickly glean whether the creator requires attribution, restricts commercial re-use, or allows further sharing or adaption of the original work.
  • The Open Science Badges developed by the Center for Open Science which acknowledge the efforts underlying open science practices, indicate what content is available, and certifies its accessibility. These badges are currently employed by more than 75 peer-reviewed journals and, according to recent studies, are associated with an increased sharing of scientific materials and data.
  • The Traditional Knowledge Labels developed by Professor Kim Christen (WSU) for Mukurtu CMS , an archival platform that hosts Indigenous data. The TK Label project communicates Indigenous governance preferences with respect to research materials. The TK Labels can also be applied to non-Indigenous research data.
  • The Bio-cultural Labels project that A/Prof Maui Hudson (Waikato) and A/Prof Jane Anderson (NYU) have initiated. These labels aim to make visible whether and how genetic resources involved in scientific research have been subject to access and benefit sharing agreements as required by the Nagoya Protocol.
  • Taken together, these initiatives represent attempts to refine and improve research practice in a manner that addresses select aspects of RI practice, however, none take a holistic approach.

This paper aims to individually and collectively analyse these initiatives, some of which have wide recognition, and fill in the gaps to suggest a comprehensive Responsible Innovation Labelling approach. We will then attempt to apply this approach to research undertaken at the Uniquely Australian Foods ARC Industrial Transformation and Training Centre at the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation. The Centre contains a multi-disciplinary group of scientists and social scientists working together to identify novel native plant foods and botanicals and to facilitate access to markets for Australian Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

[1] The former approach, which tends to be located in European discourses on the topic, tends to prioritize procedural/structural steps to achieve this end while the latter approach, which tends to be located in North American discourses, tends to offer a conceptual framework. The Antipodean approach, in contrast, is still in the process of emerging and we argue that there is value in tracking between the two.

Public Interest Science and Activism: Histories and Genealogies of Responsibility and the Society for Social Responsibility in Science 

Prof. Matthew Kearnes, UNSW Environment and Society Group, School of Humanities and Languages, University of New South Wales

Dr Darrin Durant, Science And Technology Studies, Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne

As notions of responsible research and innovation are increasingly being incorporated into Australian science and research policies – drawing largely on international comparative experience – in this paper we explore a wider history of scientific activism and advocacy for responsible research in Australia. We focus specifically on the Australian ‘Society for Social Responsibility in Science’ (SSRS) and a range of associated organisations active in advocating for public interest research throughout the 1970s and 80s. During this period, SSRS emerged as a leading institutional voice for dissenting and activist voices within the Australian scientific community, aiming the “draw the attention of scientists, the public and decision makers to the social consequences and implications of scientific developments”. SSRS publications and activism span a diverse range of topics, from civil and military nuclear development, resource recycling, land and water conservation and critical analyses of medicalisation. Our paper is based on early findings drawn from an archival research project centred on SSRS publications, pamphlets and ephemera. We explore dominant thematic concerns that emerge across these publications together with the wider social and environmental dynamics that contributed to, and conditioned, this form of scientific activism and advocacy for scientific responsibility. We also explore the conditions that led to the fragmentation of the style of scientific activism embodied by SSRS and conclude by exploring the emergent relations between SSRS – and associated organisations – and the embryonic field of science and technology studies (STS) in Australia. We argue that these dynamic relations provide salient lessons for contemporary discussions of responsible research and innovation (RRI).

Can Antipodean RRI be a responsible ‘policy innovation’ in innovation policy? 

Fabien Medvecky, University of Otago and Kristiann Allen, Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures

R(R)I is a set of interwoven discourses about research and innovation policy (Owen & Pansera, 2019; Owen, Pansera, Macnaghten, & Randles, 2021). We argue that, as a policy innovation, R(R)I itself does not practice its own conceptual principles (De Saille, 2015; Macq, Tancoigne, & Strasser, 2020). Conceptually, R(R)I asks for research and innovation to be anticipatory, reflexive, inclusive and responsive (Owen et al., 2013).  But in its policy incarnation as found in both the CSIRO’s and EU’s Horizon 2020, R(R)I seemingly endorses these values, without uphold them in its own formation. Indeed, R(R)I has previously been accused failing to attend “to the politics in and of RI, and the institutional uptake of RI” (van Oudheusden, 2014). Thus, an inclusive and transparent reflection on the goals, practices and possible futures and implication of R(R)I in the contexts where it may be applied is needed. Such an R(R)I policy development process could start with contextualising the meanings of ‘responsible’ and ‘responsive’ knowledge productions and products.

What would that look like? In Aotearoa New Zealand part of the answer lies in responsibilities under the Treaty of Waitangi. At the same time, the country’s small size and relative isolation are important factors too.  Indeed, they can lead to the conflation of national interests with public interests even when these may be fundamentally at odds in the way they are interpreted within the research and innovation sector. These are among the issues requiring deliberation for R(R)I policy to itself be what it promotes.

  • De Saille, S. (2015). Innovating innovation policy: The emergence of ‘Responsible Research and Innovation’. Journal of Responsible Innovation, 2(2), 152-168.
  • Macq, H., Tancoigne, É., & Strasser, B. J. (2020). From Deliberation to Production: Public Participation in Science and Technology Policies of the European Commission (1998–2019). Minerva, 58(4), 489-512.
  • Owen, R., & Pansera, M. (2019). Responsible innovation and responsible research and innovation. In Handbook on science and public policy: Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Owen, R., Pansera, M., Macnaghten, P., & Randles, S. (2021). Organisational institutionalisation of responsible innovation. Research Policy, 50(1), 104132. doi:
  • Owen, R., Stilgoe, J., Macnaghten, P., Gorman, M., Fisher, E., & Guston, D. (2013). A framework for responsible innovation. Responsible innovation: managing the responsible emergence of science and innovation in society, 31, 27-50.
  • van Oudheusden, M. (2014). Where are the politics in responsible innovation? European governance, technology assessments, and beyond. Journal of Responsible Innovation, 1(1), 67-86. doi:10.1080/23299460.2014.882097
Responsible Innovation: Perceptions from within Australia’s national science agency

Rebecca Coates, Rod McCrea and Elizabeth Hobman, Responsible Innovation Future Science Platform, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. 

Responsible innovation (RI) is a relatively new concept in the Australian research and scientific innovation landscape, contrasting against the embeddedness of the related concept of responsible research and innovation (RRI) in Europe. While historically, comparable theory and research practices have existed under cognate conceptual frameworks in Australia, distinct ‘responsible innovation’-like practices are still emerging and growing in popularity. With an aim to contribute to this growing scholarship, in this paper we present findings from qualitative semi-structured interviews with 31 research scientists and managers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) on their RI perceptions and practices. In presenting these findings, we explore what RI looks like in practice to these participants and identify the challenges and opportunities for enhancing RI research. 

The findings are presented around three main areas. First, we summarise participants’ perceptions of RI based on their role in CSIRO, research experience and practice. Second, we discuss old and new themes of RI, such as the AIRR principles (Anticipation, Inclusive Deliberation, Reflexivity and Responsiveness), risk management, trust in science organisations, and social responsibility. Third, we summarise some challenges in, and opportunities for, enacting responsible innovation to further embed responsible innovation in research practice and policy. We present a general overview of our findings in these three areas and discuss their implications and contributions to building an Australian approach to RI, before noting limitations and areas for future research. 

Synthesising Participatory Design, Human Centred Engineering and Community Development for Responsible Innovation Practice: Engineers Without Borders Australia’s Technology Development Approach 

Angus Mitchell – School of Engineering, College of Engineering and Computer Sciences, Australian National University 

Jeremy Smith – School of Engineering, College of Engineering and Computer Sciences, Australian National University George Goddard – Engineers Without Borders Australia 

Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Australia is a community development and technology innovation for-purpose organisation, based in Naarm (Melbourne) Australia, with a goal to promote technology that benefits all. EWB Australia works with organisations and communities in the Asia Pacific region, with a growing portfolio of projects collaborating with Indigenous organisations and communities in Australia. EWB’s goal requires responsible innovation, incorporating sectoral change, community development and engineering design facets. EWB has developed a tailored Technology Development Approach (TDA) that synthesizes insights from Participatory Design, Human Centred Engineering and Community Development to support responsible innovation practice. This approach supports engineering and other technology practitioners at EWB to act as technology stewards, developing technology artefacts, while also growing the capacity of communities and technology ecosystems. The TDA consists of practitioner mindsets and values, guiding principles, a design process, and tools and techniques. This approach was designed to guide practitioners through all stages of innovation – from opportunity identification to implementation at scale, and post implementation support. EWB’s TDA is presented here, including the process, principals, tools, and language underpinning the approach. This is accompanied by case studies in Australia, Vanuatu, and Cambodia, to demonstrate the applicability of the TDA across multiple contexts, domains, and design phases. 

Building a common language for interdisciplinary responsible innovation: A ‘responsible quantum’ case study from Australia 

Tara Roberson, ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems, University of Queensland, and CSIRO Future Science Platform for Responsible Innovation

Examples of ‘technology gone wrong’ provide a strong impetus for responsible innovation. However, scientists and other innovators could be alienated by predictions (or inferences?) of technological misuse at precisely the moment that they should be engaged. To address this, conversations on responsible innovation should first focus on the creation of a shared language (Glerup et al 2017) and consider the public good of science and technology (Roberson et al, 2021). We should also consider how research agendas and innovation processes might be made more novel by interrogating the social factors informing their design in these discussions (Raman 2015; de Saille et al 2020). This talk provides a starting point for an interdisciplinary responsible innovation approach that draws on examples from activities surrounding the ‘second quantum revolution’ in Australia.

Applying responsible algorithm design to neighbourhood-scale batteries in Australia

Hedda Ransan-Cooper and Bjorn Strumberg

The digital energy era presents at least three systemic concerns to the design and operation of algorithms: bias of considerations towards the easily quantifiable; inhibition of explainability; and undermining of trust and inclusion, as well as energy users’ autonomy and control. We explored these and other tensions through an interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers with expertise in: environmental sociology, data science, power systems engineering, and the physics of renewable energy. Our focus: neighbourhood scale batteries. While the project initially started with parallel research activities, through conversation and writing collaboration, the team began exploring the inter-dependencies between the different research elements, converging finally on an integration of public values into optimisation modelling for neighbourhood batteries. We welcome the opportunity to step back and reflect on how we negotiated questions of ethical responsibility, in the context of an Australian energy system which frames the public in highly reductionist terms.   

Proposed format: We propose a session in which two members of an interdisciplinary research team (Hedda Ransan-Cooper an environmental sociologist and Bjorn Strumberg, a physicist with expertise in renewable energy) respond to a series of questions which stem from the symposium provocation. This is intended to help us reflect on our own practice of responsible research and how the collaboration shaped our emerging views on these questions.

Upstream without a paddle: RRI’s missing cooperatives

Declan Kuch

Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) has sought to move public dialogue ‘upstream’ in the research process (Stilgoe et al 2013). In its canonical definitions, RRI can help mop up and ideally learn from the disasters of late modernity – namely the polluting and otherwise unfit technologies produced by large multinational corporations. RRI, its promoters suggest, can achieve this by prompting policymakers to enact new deliberative spaces about the role and scope of science. RRI’s vision of reflexive, inclusive and responsive decision-making around techno-scientific innovation has been premised peculiar, liberal visions of deliberation this paper seeks to open up. I argue that responsible innovation requires a more radical vision of the organisations conducting it than current RRI discourse assumes: namely that the limited liability corporation seeking to maximise shareholder profits can be rendered ‘responsible to society’. The paper makes this argument through an analysis of health data innovation in Australia and Switzerland to contrast neoliberal and cooperative approaches to the ownership and governance of data. This comparison is instructive not only for an Antipodean vision of RRI based on a more diverse organisational ecosystem of innovators, but RRI practitioners and theorists around the world. 

Mapping Yuin Dreaming as resistance in the Anthropocene

Sam Provost, The Australian National University

Indigenous scholars have argued that the fallout of capitalistic ways of engaging with the planet, including deforestation, species extinction, and climate change can be read as a continuation of settler colonialism’s targeted fracturing of Indigenous lifeways. On the continent known as Australia, two key processes have systematically torn at the patchwork of Country, limiting Indigenous peoples’ capacity for adaptation. These are the dispossession of Indigenous lands through the allocation of settler property, and the entrenched colonial spatial imaginaries that view and represent Country as merely a collection of resources; distinct from one another, things to be extracted, owned and sold. Western cartographic conventions continue to re-enact these processes by re-enforcing arbitrary settler boundaries that maintain the hyperseptation of land and water, humans and more-than-humans. This paper maps resistance to these processes on Yuin Country on the south coast of NSW, positioning Aboriginal relationality and cultural resurgence as acts of mending the patchwork of Country. Ultimately, this paper seeks to understand if the practice of Indigenous countermapping can undermine colonial logics of possession that continue to prevent Yuin people from attending to Country in ways that are meaningful to them.

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