Speeches https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/ en National Press Club Address: The orderly transition to the electric planet https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/news-and-media/national-press-club-address-orderly-transition-electric-planet <h1 class="au-header-heading">National Press Club Address: The orderly transition to the electric planet</h1> <span><span lang="" about="/user/10" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Kathleen Horne</span></span> <span>Wed, 2020-02-12 11:13</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><em>"The only way to meet the energy needs of the future without sacrificing standards of living, or undermining the economy, is by planning for an orderly transition that embraces science and technology as the stepping stones to the future we want.</em></p> <p><em>A future where we supply the vast majority of our energy requirements by electricity. Clean electricity. A future I like to call the “Electric Planet”."</em></p> <p>Dr Finkel spoke to the National Press Club on 12 February 2020 on a path towards his vision of an 'electric planet' - one powered by low carbon generation, with a reliable, efficient and robust electricity system available to all.</p> <p>The full speech is available below, or as a <a href="https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-02/National%20Press%20Club%20address%202020%20web_0.pdf">PDF</a>.</p> <p> </p> <p>*********</p> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.480px_wide" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="29854842-06f1-4e65-943a-4ba94b95c658" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-oembed-video field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item"> <iframe src="/media/oembed?url=https%3A//www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3Drw8Nm6Ugckw&amp;max_width=0&amp;max_height=0&amp;hash=F_fPgPMKzxHb_ZCEIsSbbOBBfM7y5DKlQYSXUy6GiLM" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="" width="480" height="270" class="media-oembed-content" title="Australia's Chief Scientist - Dr Alan Finkel - National Press Club Address February 2020"></iframe></div> </article> </div> <p>When I was growing up, one of the formative images that seared itself on my brain was a picture taken by the astronauts of Apollo 11.</p> <p>It was a picture of Earth, one of the first full-colour perspectives of our planet. A wondrous ball of bright blue, lightly veiled with swirling white clouds, peeking out of the eternal darkness of space.</p> <p>Of course, that photograph highlighted another aspect of our existence: our fragility. Growing up in the 1960s we lived with the possibility that our beautiful planet would be wiped out in unconstrained nuclear war.</p> <p>The United States and Soviet Union had armed themselves with enough nuclear weapons to obliterate the human race several times over, with both sides publicly committing to immediate retaliation in the event of a first strike.</p> <p>The only outcome of such a defence would be mutually assured destruction. With the stunningly appropriate acronym, MAD.</p> <p>For years, the terrifying prospect was that the image in that photograph, that blue marble containing all we know and cherish, could vanish in a single flash of light. A single moment of MAD-ness.</p> <p>Such was the fear, that a young American wrote to President Kennedy “I am eleven years old and every night I worry. What will be left of this wonderful world if someone presses the button? What will be left of you and your family?”<a href="#_edn1">[I]</a></p> <p>Late last year, I received my own letter from a child.</p> <p>My 10-year-old grandniece, Elise, wrote to me: “Uncle Alan, I just watched a frighteningly real video on the crisis of sustainability. I would love it if you could talk to my school about what we can do, how we can help, and what is actually going on”.</p> <p>Now, there is a world of difference between nuclear war and climate change, but we cannot deny that for the next generation, climate change is one of their biggest concerns when contemplating the future.</p> <p>Elise, I’d like to reassure you that just as mutually assured destruction was supplanted with mutual international cooperation, so too can we take collective action on climate change.</p> <p>And so, Elise, as Australia’s Chief Scientist, I take this opportunity to outline the science of climate change, and how we can use science and technology to address it.</p> <p>***</p> <p>Around the time we started exploring space, scientists began to monitor and study the Earth’s atmosphere. </p> <p>In the 1970s, the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology created a joint research station at Cape Grim, in Tasmania, and began sampling the most pristine air in the world.</p> <p>And what they have recorded is an unrelenting increase in the levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. </p> <p>At the start of the Industrial Revolution, it was 280 parts per million. Today the concentration is 409 parts per million,<a href="#_edn2">[ii]</a> a level not experienced for four million years<a href="#_edn3">[iii]</a> — a time pre-dating humans, when giant sloths and mastodons roamed the Earth.<a href="#_edn4">[iv]</a></p> <p>And there is absolutely no hint of a slowdown. Annual carbon dioxide emissions from human activities increased from 24 billion tonnes in 1998 to 37 billion tonnes in 2018, and the atmospheric concentration rise last year was one of the highest annual increases ever.</p> <p>***</p> <p>Our understanding of how these emissions impact our planet dates back almost 200 years, to 1824, when an extraordinary French mathematician, Joseph Fourier, whose work continues to shape engineering today, asked a simple question, as scientists often do: what is regulating Earth’s temperature?</p> <p>Fourier’s answer was that the atmosphere was keeping the Earth’s surface warm, like the glass windows in a greenhouse, hence the term ‘the greenhouse effect’.</p> <p>Although the process is more complicated than that, Fourier provided a straightforward analogy that is still widely used.</p> <p>In 1896, a Swedish chemist named Svante Arrhenius went a step further and determined the underlying physics of how global warming actually works.</p> <p>As the sun shines through our atmosphere, the Earth’s surface warms and emits some of the sun’s energy as infrared radiation.</p> <p>Ordinarily, this infrared radiation would escape to space. However, Arrhenius found that some gases, like carbon dioxide, trap this infrared radiation and then re-emit it in all directions.</p> <p>While some of that re-emitted infrared radiation makes its way back into space, the rest heats the Earth’s atmosphere, surface and oceans, making them warmer than they would otherwise be.</p> <p>We depend on these greenhouse gases to support all life on Earth. Without them, the Earth would lose so much heat that life as we know it would be impossible.</p> <p>The problem we are addressing occurs when greenhouse gas levels get too high because of human activities, trapping too much of the sun’s energy as heat. This is referred to as the <em>enhanced</em> greenhouse effect.</p> <p>And the last decade was hot. Really hot.</p> <p>In fact, my 10-year-old grandniece Elise has already lived through seven of the hottest years in recorded Australian history.<a href="#_edn5">[v]</a></p> <p>It is important to recognise that global warming is just that; <em>global</em>. No nation is immune to its impact. Indeed, many nations that contribute the least to global warming are facing its most serious consequences.</p> <p>Because ocean currents and major wind patterns respond to atmospheric and ocean warming, the effect of just one degree temperature rise causes major disruptions on the natural systems that regulate our climate.</p> <p>Small annual temperature changes eventually lead to tipping points, resulting in increasingly intense storms, deeper droughts, erratic swings in coastal water temperatures and consequent coral bleaching.</p> <p>These extreme weather events will not only persist but will be more severe, and in some cases more frequent, into the future.</p> <p>Climate change is Nature’s reaction to our actions.</p> <p>It is real, and it is already happening with a rapidity that is deeply affecting our way of life.</p> <p>The link between climate change, a rising number of forest fire danger days and our season of bushfires is clear, and has resulted in a steep collective cost that can be measured in billions of dollars in economic damage — which pales to insignificance when compared to the greater costs behind the statistics.</p> <p>The lost lives and livelihoods. The lost businesses and homes. The lost flora and fauna.</p> <p>These costs are immeasurable, and I express my condolences here today to everyone affected by the devastating bushfire emergency this summer, especially all those who have lost loved ones.</p> <p>Unless long-term action is taken, these extreme bushfires conditions will be repeated, and indeed continue to worsen, into the future.</p> <p>We cannot wish it away. So, what can we do?</p> <p>First, as the Prime Minister noted two weeks ago in this very room, “Practical action on mitigation through reduced emissions needs to go hand-in-hand with practical action on climate resilience and adaptation”.</p> <p>Among many initiatives announced by the Commonwealth and State Governments, including billions of dollars in support for bushfire relief, I have been asked by the Prime Minister to chair an expert advisory panel that will support the CSIRO in the development of advice to all governments on climate and disaster resilience.</p> <p>Second, as Minister Karen Andrews has declared, as a nation we must move on from disputing the reality of climate change.<a href="#_edn6">[vi]</a></p> <p>As a global community, as agreed in Paris in 2015, and as we will see discussed in Glasgow later this year, we must work together on the next phase of emissions reduction.</p> <p>***</p> <p>A practical mitigation approach is to address the biggest source of emissions.</p> <p>Nearly three quarters of global emissions come from energy used for transport, heating and industry, as well as traditional electricity generation.<a href="#_edn7">[vii]</a> So, focussing on energy will present us the best return on investment.<a href="#_edn8"><sup><sup>[viii]</sup></sup></a></p> <p>But we cannot abruptly cease our use of energy.</p> <p>An energy supply is the most essential pillar of our civilisation.</p> <p>Without an energy supply, it’s back to the Stone Age.</p> <p>Just think about the last 300 years since the invention of the steam engine – everyone in this room is a beneficiary of energy-driven conveniences that make our daily lives easier and more productive.</p> <p>Given this, the only way to meet the energy needs of the future without sacrificing standards of living, or undermining the economy, is by planning for an orderly transition that embraces science and technology as the stepping stones to the future we want.</p> <p>A future where we supply the vast majority of our energy requirements by electricity. Clean electricity. Not just for lighting, computing and air conditioning, but for transport, building heating, and industry, too.</p> <p>A future I like to call the “Electric Planet”.</p> <p>***</p> <p>I want you to imagine a highway exclusively devoted to delivering the world’s energy.</p> <p>Each lane is restricted to trucks that carry one of the world’s seven large-scale sources of primary energy: coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, solar and wind.</p> <p>Our current energy security comes at a price, the carbon dioxide emissions from the trucks in the three busiest lanes: the ones for coal, oil and natural gas.</p> <p>We can’t just put up roadblocks overnight to stop these trucks; they are carrying the overwhelming majority of the world’s energy supply.</p> <p>But, what if we expand clean electricity production carried by the trucks in the solar and wind lanes — three or four times over — into an economically efficient clean energy future</p> <p>Think electric cars instead of petrol cars. Think electric factories instead of oil-burning factories.</p> <p>Cleaner and cheaper to run.</p> <p>A technology-driven orderly transition.</p> <p>Problems wrought by technology, solved by technology.</p> <p>Make no mistake, this will be the biggest engineering challenge ever undertaken. The energy system is huge, and even <em>with</em> an internationally committed and focussed effort the transition will take many decades.</p> <p>It will also require respectful planning and re-training to ensure affected individuals and communities, who have fuelled our energy progress for generations, are supported throughout the transition.</p> <p>As Tony, a worker from a Gippsland coal-fired power station, noted from the audience on this week’s Q&amp;A program: “The workforce is highly innovative, we are up for the challenge, we will adapt to whatever is put in front of us and we have proven that in the past.”</p> <p>This is a reminder that if governments, industry, communities and individuals share a vision, a positive transition can be achieved.</p> <p>The stunning technology advances I have witnessed in the past ten years make me optimistic.</p> <p>Renewable energy is booming worldwide, and is now being delivered at a markedly lower cost than ever before.</p> <p>In Australia, the cost of producing electricity from wind and solar is now around AUD$50 per megawatt-hour.<a href="#_edn9">[ix]</a></p> <p>Even when the variability is firmed with storage, the price of solar and wind electricity is lower than existing gas-fired electricity generation and similar to new-build coal-fired electricity generation.<a href="#_edn10">[x]</a></p> <p>This has resulted in substantial solar and wind electricity uptake in Australia,<a href="#_edn11">[xi]</a> and, most importantly, projections of a 33% cut in emissions in the electricity sector by 2030, when compared to 2005 levels.<a href="#_edn12">[xii]</a></p> <p>And this pricing trend will only continue, with a recent United Nations report noting that, in the last decade alone, the cost of solar electricity fell by 80%, and is set to drop even further.<a href="#_edn13">[xiii]</a></p> <p>So we’re on our way. We <em>can</em> do this. Time and again we have demonstrated that no challenge to humanity is beyond humanity.</p> <p>But we cannot be naïve about the scale of the task ahead nor can we afford to discard any of the tools at our disposal.</p> <p>I have always maintained that the focus needs to be on outcomes. The outcome in this case is reduced atmospheric emissions. We should use whatever underlying technologies achieve the goal.</p> <p>Different nations will have different energy mixes and needs, but what does the generation technology matter if the outcome – atmospheric emissions – is lowered?</p> <p>Nevertheless, in Australia, with nuclear energy and <em>new</em> hydroelectricity facing significant public opposition, we are theoretically limited to fitting all our future energy traffic into just two lanes: solar and wind.</p> <p>But, there is a limit to how much solar and wind we can use and still retain a reliable system.</p> <p>Ultimately, we will need to complement solar and wind with a range of technologies such as high levels of storage, long-distance transmission, and much better efficiency in the way we use energy.</p> <p>But, while these technologies are being scaled up, we need an energy companion today that can react rapidly to changes in solar and wind output. An energy companion that is itself relatively low in emissions, and that only operates when needed.</p> <p>In the short-term, as the Prime Minister and Minister Angus Taylor have previously stated, natural gas will play that critical role.</p> <p>In fact, natural gas is already making it possible for nations to transition to a reliable, and relatively low emissions, electricity supply.</p> <p>Look at Britain, where coal-fired electricity generation has plummeted from 75% in 1990 to just 2% in 2019.<a href="#_edn14">[xiv]</a></p> <p>Driving this has been an increase in solar, wind, and hydro electricity, up from 2% to 27%.</p> <p>At the same time, and this is key to the delivery of a reliable electricity supply, electricity from natural gas increased from virtually zero in 1990 to more than 38% in 2019.<a href="#_edn15">[xv]</a></p> <p>Closer to home, look at South Australia’s success in increasing solar and wind electricity to 51% in the last fiscal year. Again, natural gas is key to the stability of the electricity supply, accounting for 47%.<a href="#_edn16">[xvi]</a></p> <p>I am aware that building new natural gas generators may be seen as problematic, and I will come back to that, but, for now, let’s assume that with solar, wind and natural gas, we will achieve a reliable, low emissions electricity supply.</p> <p>Is this enough? Not really.</p> <p>We still need a high-density source of transportable fuel for long distance, heavy duty trucks. </p> <p>We still need an alternative chemical feedstock to make the ammonia used to produce fertilisers.</p> <p>We still need a means to carry clean energy from one continent to another.</p> <p>Enter the hero: hydrogen.</p> <p>***</p> <p>Hydrogen is abundant. In fact, it’s the most abundant element in the universe. The only problem is that there is nowhere on Earth that you can drill a well and find hydrogen gas.</p> <p>Don’t panic.</p> <p>Fortunately, hydrogen is bound up in other substances. One we all know: water, the H in H-2-O.</p> <p>We have two viable ways to extract hydrogen, with near-zero emissions.</p> <p>First, we can split water in a process called electrolysis, using renewable electricity.</p> <p>Second, we can use coal and natural gas to split the water, and capture and permanently bury the carbon dioxide emitted along the way.</p> <p>I know some may be sceptical, because carbon capture and permanent storage has not been commercially viable in the electricity generation industry.</p> <p>But, the process for hydrogen production is significantly more cost-effective for two crucial reasons.</p> <p>First, since carbon dioxide is left behind as a residual part of the hydrogen production process, there is no additional step, and little added cost, for its extraction.</p> <p>And second, because the process operates at much higher pressure, the extraction of the carbon dioxide is more energy efficient and it is easier to store.</p> <p>Returning to the electrolysis production route, we must also recognise that if hydrogen is produced exclusively from solar and wind electricity, we will exacerbate the load on the renewable lanes of our energy highway. </p> <p>In my training as an engineer, I was taught to build safety margins and redundancy into critical systems.</p> <p>Now, you might say to me, “Alan, we’re never going to run out of sunshine and wind.”</p> <p>But think for a moment of the vast amounts of steel, aluminium and concrete needed to support, build and service solar and wind structures.</p> <p>And the copper and rare earth metals needed for the wires and motors.</p> <p>And the lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese and other battery materials needed to stabilise the system.</p> <p>What if there was a resources shortage?</p> <p>It would be prudent, therefore, to safeguard against any potential resource limitations with another energy source.</p> <p>Well, by producing hydrogen from natural gas or coal, using carbon capture and permanent storage, we can add back <em>two</em> more lanes to our energy highway, ensuring we have four primary energy sources to meet the needs of the future – solar, wind, hydrogen from natural gas, and hydrogen from coal.</p> <p>Furthermore, once extracted, hydrogen provides unique solutions to the remaining challenges we face in our future Electric Planet.</p> <p>First, in the transport sector, Australia’s largest end user of energy.</p> <p>Because hydrogen fuel carries much more energy than the equivalent weight of batteries, it provides a viable, longer range, alternative for powering long-haul buses, B-double trucks, trains that travel from mines in central Australia to coastal ports, and ships that carry passengers and goods around the world.<a href="#_edn17">[xvii]</a></p> <p>Second, in industry, where hydrogen can help solve some of the largest emissions challenges.</p> <p>Take steel manufacturing.</p> <p>In today’s world, the use of coal in steel manufacturing is responsible for a staggering 7% of carbon dioxide emissions.<a href="#_edn18">[xviii]</a></p> <p>Persisting with this form of steel production will result in this percentage growing frustratingly higher as we make progress decarbonising other sectors of the economy.</p> <p>Fortunately, clean hydrogen can not only provide the energy that is needed to heat the blast furnaces, it can also replace the carbon in coal used to reduce iron oxide to the pure iron from which steel is made. And with hydrogen as the reducing agent the only by-product is water vapour.</p> <p>This would have a <em>revolutionary</em> impact on cutting global emissions.</p> <p>Third, hydrogen can store energy, not only for a rainy day, but also to ship sunshine from our shores, where it is abundant, to countries where it is needed.</p> <p>Let me illustrate this point. In December last year, I was privileged to witness the launch of the world’s first liquefied hydrogen carrier ship in Japan.</p> <p>As the vessel slipped into the water I saw it not only as the launch of the first ship of its type to ever be built, but as the launch of a new era in which clean energy will be routinely transported between the continents. Shipping sunshine.</p> <p>And, finally, because hydrogen operates in a similar way to natural gas, our natural gas generators can be re-configured in the future to run on hydrogen — neatly turning a potential legacy into an added bonus.</p> <p>We truly are at the dawn of a new, thriving industry.</p> <p>There’s a nearly A$2 trillion global market for hydrogen come 2050, assuming that we can drive the price of producing hydrogen to substantially lower than A$2 per kilogram.<a href="#_edn19">[xix]</a></p> <p>In Australia, we’ve got the available land, the natural resources, the technology smarts, the global networks, and the industry expertise.</p> <p>And we now have the commitment, with the ‘National Hydrogen Strategy’ unanimously adopted at a meeting by the Commonwealth, State, and Territory Governments late last year.</p> <p>Indeed, as I reflect upon my term as Chief Scientist, in this my last year, chairing the development of this strategy has been one of my proudest achievements.</p> <p>The full results will not be seen overnight, but it has sown the seeds, and if we continue to tend to them, they will grow into a whole new realm of practical applications and unimagined possibilities.</p> <p>The national hydrogen strategy provides a framework for Australia to cost-effectively become a world-leader in this new industry.</p> <p>We have the potential to be one of the top three exporters of clean hydrogen, to create an exemplary safety track record, thousands of new Australian jobs, especially in regional areas, and billions of dollars in economic growth between now and 2050.</p> <p>And we’re on our way to meeting this goal.</p> <p>State Governments right around the country have introduced funded hydrogen action plans, departmental teams have been established to ensure their effective roll-out, and the Commonwealth Government has announced $370 million of hydrogen stimulus funding, including $70 million for an ARENA funding round already in motion.</p> <p>By building on this progress, Australia can simultaneously confront the environmental challenges threatening our nation and the world, while laying the groundwork for our long-term economic security and prosperity.</p> <p>I have every confidence we can do it. For we are Australians. Born, in the words of Henry Lawson, “to be thinkers and doers, and makers of wonderful things”.<a href="#_edn20">[xx]</a></p> <p>We are resilient and bold and possess, as Dame Enid Lyons once noted, “qualities of initiative and daring that…will never be allowed to die”.<a href="#_edn21"><sup><sup>[xxi]</sup></sup></a></p> <p>Our proven capacity for greatness, for courage to go beyond the seemingly impossible, is how we have led in the pursuit of new horizons; it’s how we have helped shape the world.</p> <p>***</p> <p>I want to leave you today with one more letter, written by a man who left his small town to embark on a historic mission, which was helped, in part, by our nation’s ingenuity.</p> <p>“Down in Australia”, the letter goes, “there were some very dedicated people…instrumental in the success of man’s first flights to the moon.</p> <p>“Science fiction writers thought it would be possible…to get people to the moon. But none…foresaw any possibility of the lunar explorers being able to…transmit moving pictures of what they saw back to Earth.</p> <p>“I was probably the most surprised person in the human race when Mission Control announced they were getting a picture.</p> <p>“So I will just say thanks, mates. Neil Armstrong”.<a href="#_edn22"><sup><sup>[xxii]</sup></sup></a></p> <p>Thanks to Australia’s radio telescope facilities in Parkes and Honeysuckle Creek, 600 million people around the world stood as one and watched the moon landing on their television screens – inspiring wonder and sparking passions in a new generation, including a young teenager in Melbourne who became enamoured with all things science and who stands before you here today. </p> <p>The task of dealing with the challenge of climate change will require the same spirit of unity, enterprise and achievement.</p> <p>It will require each of us to believe in ourselves and in our ability to accomplish great deeds.</p> <p>To believe, that with imagination and technological innovation, and perseverance across decades, we will meet this challenge, and preserve the image in that photograph that seared itself on my brain all those years ago.</p> <p>Long after the Apollo 11 mission, when astronaut Michael Collins was asked how it felt to take that photo, to see the Earth majestically rising above the lunar surface, he responded:</p> <p>"Oddly enough the overriding sensation I got looking at the Earth was: my God, that little thing is so fragile out there".<a href="#_edn23"><sup><sup>[xxiii]</sup></sup></a></p> <p>Let us all reflect on this simple yet powerful message.</p> <p>We only have one precious planet to call home, and we all hold a great responsibility in our tenancy here, to children like Elise, and to generations yet to come.</p> <p>Thank you.</p> <p>***********</p> <p> </p> <p><a href="//prod.protected.ind/user/User04/KHorne/desktop/National%20Press%20Club%20address%202020%20web.docx#_ednref1">[i]</a> Rhodes, J.P. (2017). <em>Growing Up in a Land Called Honalee</em>: <em>The Sixties in the Lives of American Children</em>. Columbia: University of Missouri Press. p.81</p> <p><a href="//prod.protected.ind/user/User04/KHorne/desktop/National%20Press%20Club%20address%202020%20web.docx#_ednref2">[ii]</a> <a href="https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/OandA/Areas/Assessing-our-climate/Latest-greenhouse-gas-data">https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/OandA/Areas/Assessing-our-climate/Latest-greenhouse-gas-data</a></p> <p><a href="//prod.protected.ind/user/User04/KHorne/desktop/National%20Press%20Club%20address%202020%20web.docx#_ednref3">[iii]</a> “Atmospheric CO2 is already at levels last seen around four million years ago, in the Pliocene epoch.” <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03595-0">https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-03595-0</a></p> <p><a href="//prod.protected.ind/user/User04/KHorne/desktop/National%20Press%20Club%20address%202020%20web.docx#_ednref4">[iv]</a> <a href="https://www.britannica.com/science/Pliocene-Epoch">https://www.britannica.com/science/Pliocene-Epoch</a></p> <p><a href="//prod.protected.ind/user/User04/KHorne/desktop/National%20Press%20Club%20address%202020%20web.docx#_ednref5">[v]</a> <a href="http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/#tabs=Tracker&amp;tracker=timeseries">http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/change/#tabs=Tracker&amp;tracker=timeseries</a></p> <p><a href="//prod.protected.ind/user/User04/KHorne/desktop/National%20Press%20Club%20address%202020%20web.docx#_ednref6">[vi]</a> <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-15/cabinet-ministers-karen-andrews-climate-change-time-wasters/11868694">https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-15/cabinet-ministers-karen-andrews-climate-change-time-wasters/11868694</a></p> <p><a href="//prod.protected.ind/user/User04/KHorne/desktop/National%20Press%20Club%20address%202020%20web.docx#_ednref7">[vii]</a> <a href="https://www.c2es.org/content/international-emissions/">https://www.c2es.org/content/international-emissions/</a></p> <p><a href="//prod.protected.ind/user/User04/KHorne/desktop/National%20Press%20Club%20address%202020%20web.docx#_ednref8">[viii]</a> <a href="https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data">https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data</a>.</p> <p><a href="//prod.protected.ind/user/User04/KHorne/desktop/National%20Press%20Club%20address%202020%20web.docx#_ednref9">[ix]</a> Graham, P., Hayward, J., Foster, J. and Havas, L. 2019, GenCost 2019-20: preliminary results for</p> <p>stakeholder review CSIRO, Australia.</p> <p><a href="//prod.protected.ind/user/User04/KHorne/desktop/National%20Press%20Club%20address%202020%20web.docx#_ednref10">[x]</a> <a href="http://re100.eng.anu.edu.au/publications/assets/100renewables.pdf">http://re100.eng.anu.edu.au/publications/assets/100renewables.pdf</a></p> <p><a href="//prod.protected.ind/user/User04/KHorne/desktop/National%20Press%20Club%20address%202020%20web.docx#_ednref11">[xi]</a> In 2019, Australia installed a record 6.3 gigawatts of new renewable capacity, following an investment of $11.9 billion in renewable energy in 2018, our highest on record.</p> <p><a href="//prod.protected.ind/user/User04/KHorne/desktop/National%20Press%20Club%20address%202020%20web.docx#_ednref12">[xii]</a> Commonwealth of Australia. <em>Australia’s emissions projections 2019</em>.</p> <p><a href="//prod.protected.ind/user/User04/KHorne/desktop/National%20Press%20Club%20address%202020%20web.docx#_ednref13">[xiii]</a> <a href="https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/decade-renewable-energy-investment-led-solar-tops-usd-25-trillion">https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/decade-renewable-energy-investment-led-solar-tops-usd-25-trillion</a></p> <p><a href="//prod.protected.ind/user/User04/KHorne/desktop/National%20Press%20Club%20address%202020%20web.docx#_ednref14">[xiv]</a> <a href="https://www.nationalgrid.com/britain-hits-historic-clean-energy-milestone-zero-carbon-electricity-outstrips-fossil-fuels-2019">https://www.nationalgrid.com/britain-hits-historic-clean-energy-milestone-zero-carbon-electricity-outstrips-fossil-fuels-2019</a></p> <p><a href="//prod.protected.ind/user/User04/KHorne/desktop/National%20Press%20Club%20address%202020%20web.docx#_ednref15">[xv]</a> <a href="https://www.nationalgrid.com/britain-hits-historic-clean-energy-milestone-zero-carbon-electricity-outstrips-fossil-fuels-2019">https://www.nationalgrid.com/britain-hits-historic-clean-energy-milestone-zero-carbon-electricity-outstrips-fossil-fuels-2019</a></p> <p><a href="//prod.protected.ind/user/User04/KHorne/desktop/National%20Press%20Club%20address%202020%20web.docx#_ednref16">[xvi]</a> <a href="https://www.aemo.com.au/-/media/Files/Electricity/NEM/Planning_and_Forecasting/SA_Advisory/2019/2019-South-Australian-Electricity-Report.pdf">https://www.aemo.com.au/-/media/Files/Electricity/NEM/Planning_and_Forecasting/SA_Advisory/2019/2019-South-Australian-Electricity-Report.pdf</a></p> <p><a href="//prod.protected.ind/user/User04/KHorne/desktop/National%20Press%20Club%20address%202020%20web.docx#_ednref17">[xvii]</a> Commonwealth of Australia. <em>Australia's National Hydrogen Strategy</em></p> <p><a href="//prod.protected.ind/user/User04/KHorne/desktop/National%20Press%20Club%20address%202020%20web.docx#_ednref18">[xviii]</a> <a href="https://www.worldsteel.org/publications/position-papers/steel-s-contribution-to-a-low-carbon-future.html">https://www.worldsteel.org/publications/position-papers/steel-s-contribution-to-a-low-carbon-future.html</a> and <a href="https://www.cdp.net/en/articles/media/steel-sector-faces-significant-losses-from-future-climate-regulation">https://www.cdp.net/en/articles/media/steel-sector-faces-significant-losses-from-future-climate-regulation</a></p> <p><a href="//prod.protected.ind/user/User04/KHorne/desktop/National%20Press%20Club%20address%202020%20web.docx#_ednref19">[xix]</a> <a href="https://hydrogencouncil.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Hydrogen-Scaling-up_Hydrogen-Council_2017.compressed.pdf">https://hydrogencouncil.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Hydrogen-Scaling-up_Hydrogen-Council_2017.compressed.pdf</a></p> <p><a href="//prod.protected.ind/user/User04/KHorne/desktop/National%20Press%20Club%20address%202020%20web.docx#_ednref20">[xx]</a> <em>Australian Engineers</em>. Poem by Henry Lawson.</p> <p><a href="//prod.protected.ind/user/User04/KHorne/desktop/National%20Press%20Club%20address%202020%20web.docx#_ednref21">[xxi]</a> Dame Enid Lyons. Maiden speech. 29 September 1943.</p> <p><a href="//prod.protected.ind/user/User04/KHorne/desktop/National%20Press%20Club%20address%202020%20web.docx#_ednref22">[xxii]</a> <a href="https://www.honeysucklecreek.net/40th/from_Neil_Armstrong.pdf">https://www.honeysucklecreek.net/40th/from_Neil_Armstrong.pdf</a></p> <p><a href="//prod.protected.ind/user/User04/KHorne/desktop/National%20Press%20Club%20address%202020%20web.docx#_ednref23">[xxiii]</a> <a href="https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/145332/an-eagle-takes-off-for-home">https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/145332/an-eagle-takes-off-for-home</a></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/news/speeches" hreflang="en">Speeches</a></li> </ul> </div> Wed, 12 Feb 2020 00:13:02 +0000 Kathleen Horne 1342 at https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au Presentation at the 2019 World Engineers Convention https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/news-and-media/presentation-2019-world-engineers-convention <h1 class="au-header-heading">Presentation at the 2019 World Engineers Convention </h1> <span><span lang="" about="/user/16" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">ROettle</span></span> <span>Fri, 2020-02-07 14:14</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Last year, Dr Finkel was invited to speak at the World Engineers Convention in Melbourne in November 2019. Unfortunately, the date coincided with the COAG meeting on the National Hydrogen Strategy, 2,700km away in Perth. Dr Finkel pre-recorded his speech which was played during keynote session 9.</p> <p>A recording of the presentation is below:</p> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.480px_wide" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="6b7383df-30b4-474f-8d7a-26177b9caa5f" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity align-left"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-video-file field--type-file field--label-hidden field__item"><video controls="controls" width="640" height="480"><br /> <source src="/sites/default/files/2020-02/WEC_combined_presentation_FINAL_1.mp4" type="video/mp4"></source><br /> </video> </div> </article> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/news/speeches" hreflang="en">Speeches</a></li> </ul> </div> Fri, 07 Feb 2020 03:14:37 +0000 ROettle 1341 at https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au A biomedical honour: David Dewhurst Award https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/news-and-media/biomedical-honour-david-dewhurst-award <h1 class="au-header-heading">A biomedical honour: David Dewhurst Award</h1> <span><span lang="" about="/user/10" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Kathleen Horne</span></span> <span>Mon, 2019-12-09 09:47</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Dr Finkel was honoured by Australia’s biomedical engineers in November, when he was presented with the <a href="https://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/About-Us/Awards/College-Awards/Biomedical">2019 David Dewhurst Award</a> for Biomedical Engineering Excellence. First presented in 1996 by the Biomedical College of Engineers Australia, the award honours leaders in biomedical device development in Australia.</p> <p>His nomination acknowledged Dr Finkel’s extensive career founding and leading biotech company Axon Instruments, where he developed world-leading patch clamp devices capable of measuring the electrical signals from a single neuron.</p> <p>At the presentation ceremony, Dr Finkel admitted that he’d never considered himself a biomedical engineer, instead calling himself an electrical engineer or neuroscientist as required. As such, it was quite a surprise to realise that the title perfectly described his career! His full acceptance remarks are available below.</p> <p>The award’s namesake, David Dewhurst, was one of Australia's first prominent Biomedical Engineers and the founder of the Institution of Biomedical Engineering. He investigated the connection between the electrical signal used to trigger a muscle and the resulting force the muscle produced. A full biography of David Dewhurst is <a href="https://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/sites/default/files/awards/DD%20bio.pdf">available here</a>. </p> <p>*******************</p> <p> </p> <p>I am deeply honoured to have been awarded the Engineers Australia Biomedical College David Dewhurst Award for 2019.</p> <p>But, I need to let you all in on a secret – I never set out to be a biomedical engineer!</p> <p>In fact, until now I’ve not even been thinking of myself as a biomedical engineer. Instead, I’ve been thinking of myself as an electrical engineer. Or depending on the occasion, as a neuroscientist.</p> <p>So, I googled the definition of biomedical engineering.  From Imperial College, London, I found: “Biomedical engineering is a discipline that advances knowledge in engineering, biology and medicine…”</p> <p>With that definition in mind, now that I think about it; I am indeed a biomedical engineer, and becoming so was inevitable.</p> <p>As a young boy, I was fascinated by the inner workings of the human body. From almost the moment that I comprehended that one day I would be an adult, I was convinced I would be a doctor.  I loved to read about the workings of the human body and pick apart three dimensional models.</p> <p>At the same time, I was also intrigued by physics and electronics and space travel and deep water exploration.</p> <p>Finally, one day when I was sitting in the back of the classroom in Year 12 filling in the university application form, the reality of making a choice became a moment for sombre reflection.  At the last moment, I realised my interest lay in the mechanics of the human body – how it works – rather than the higher level calling to make people well, so I made the decision to do engineering.  It seemed safer (for patients).</p> <p>Eventually I graduated with a bachelor of electrical engineering.  What next?  I had no idea, but I decided to avoid getting a job just yet and signed up to do a PhD instead.</p> <p>I found myself occupying a lab bench in the Biophysics Lab within the Department of Electrical Engineering at Monash University. There I discovered that the human brain – invented by natural selection hundreds of thousands of years ago – was using the exact same principles of control systems engineering, including negative feedback, that we human engineers developed a mere 250 years ago.</p> <p>Think about it, it’s mind boggling. James Watt’s engine had a steam governor that he invented from scratch, but it operated in exactly the same way as the temperature control mechanism in your body, or the negative feedback loop that helps you to catch a cricket ball when a cross wind is blowing.  Nature got it right; and since we (without peeking) landed in the same place as Nature, you can be proud that we also got it right.</p> <p>The mixture of analogue and digital electrical communication in the brain; the complexity; and the operational redundancy, are stunning. This insight led to my thirty years in academia and industry as an unwitting biomedical engineer: combining electronic engineering with neuroscience research, with some mechanical and optical engineering thrown in for taste.</p> <p>Over the course of my career, I designed and produced a series of products for electrical recording at the microvolt and picoamp levels in tiny nerve cells: for image-based recording of specific proteins and voltage changes in individual living cells, for undertaking gene expression analysis in biotech companies, and for image based and electrical based screening of candidate medicinal compounds at pharmaceutical companies.</p> <p>It was a successful line of business. But I ask myself, to what do I owe that success?</p> <p>First, my PhD supervisor and ultimately my research colleague, Professor Steve Redman, who set very high expectations and never wavered in his anticipation of my success even when I did.</p> <p>Second, the Chairman of the Department at Monash University, Professor Doug Lampard. “Alan,” said Professor Lampard, “you can have any equipment you want, the most advanced in the world. As long as you design and build it yourself.”  Seemed reasonable!  I modified my equipment till 3 AM each morning, then tested it as a user the next day, saw what was wrong and modified it again.  It was a tight loop of customer test – design refinement – customer test – design refinement.  By the end of my PhD I was using the best amplifier in the world for recording the electrical activity of brain cells, and I didn’t even know it.</p> <p>Third, my wife, Elizabeth, who has had the constant temerity to challenge every idea I have ever had.  Unnerving as it is, I have to admit that there is nothing more important than having your ideas challenged!</p> <p>And finally, my father, who instilled in me a relentless commitment to quality.</p> <p>Somehow, it all came together.  Not everybody believes me when I tell them, but at no stage in my career did I ever have a long-range view of my next career step. Instead, I focussed on doing what I was doing well. Eventually, the doors of opportunity opened and I stepped through.</p> <p>This is an important principle, known by others by the aphorism from Louis Pasteur:  “Chance favours the prepared mind.”  What I call ‘the doors of opportunity’, Louis Pasteur calls ‘chance’. If you prepare well, those doors will open up. But you have to step through.</p> <p>I went from electrical engineer, to neuroscientist, to publisher, to electric car charging specialist, to educational program developer, to university chancellor, to President of the national academy of engineering, to Chief Scientist. Always, I did my best, then stepped through.</p> <p>In all my guises, I say to you thank you.  I am honoured by this award, and proud to be receiving it from the Biomedical College.</p> <p>And I am delighted that it is named after David Dewhurst. As I compare my career with David’s, it is even clearer to me that I am, in fact, a biomedical engineer.</p> <p>Like me, David studied physiology and electronics, but three decades ahead of me.</p> <p>Like me, David developed innovative electronic medical instrumentation.</p> <p>Like me, David used the term “electrophysiology” to describe his field of interest.</p> <p>Like me, David’s PhD thesis was on electrical parameters in tissue.  Mine, specifically, was on electrical signalling between nerve cells in brain tissue.</p> <p>Like me, in addition to his broader interest in physiology, David was an expert in electronics design.</p> <p>This last trait is critically important.  Although I was and am a generalist, I have deep discipline knowledge in electronics, built on fundamental studies in physics and maths. Being a generalist is valuable, but it is not enough.  You have to be a specialist in something as well.</p> <p>If I were to offer advice to young biomedical engineers it would be not to compromise between being a generalist and being a specialist.  Be both.</p> <p>There is no doubt that the future of pharmaceuticals development, medical devices and diagnostics lies at the intersection of engineering and biology, portending a bright future for biomedical engineers.</p> <p>On top of the surprise of receiving this award, the parallel surprise is that this award has helped me to develop my own perception of my professional career.</p> <p>You have helped me to understand my own role in the world, as a biomedical engineer, and I am proud of it.</p> <p>Thank you.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/news/speeches" hreflang="en">Speeches</a></li> <li><a href="/news/latest-news" hreflang="en">Latest News</a></li> </ul> </div> Sun, 08 Dec 2019 22:47:23 +0000 Kathleen Horne 1323 at https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au Can Natural Law underpin Artificial Intelligence? https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/news-and-media/can-natural-law-underpin-artificial-intelligence <h1 class="au-header-heading">Can Natural Law underpin Artificial Intelligence?</h1> <span><span lang="" about="/user/16" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">ROettle</span></span> <span>Fri, 2019-11-29 15:45</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>“…the development of A.I. provides us with an opportunity not only for intellectual growth, but for moral leadership. …Through concerted and collective efforts we can fashion a framework that will enable Australia to be global leaders in the field of A.I. ethics and human rights.”</p> <p>Dr Finkel spoke to the Judges of the Federal Court and Law Council of Australia on Thursday 28 November in Melbourne on the benefits of artificial intelligence, and the interplay between the cause of science and the cause of justice.</p> <p>His full speech is below, and also available as a <a href="https://chiefscientist.govcms.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-11/can_natural_law_underpin_artificial_intelligence_dr_alan_finkel_speech_to_federal_court_and_law_council_november_2019.pdf"><strong>PDF</strong></a>.</p> <p> </p> <p><em>*Dear Reader. Instances of legal terminology used throughout (to lighten the mood at a formal dinner setting) have been underlined for clarity. </em></p> <p> </p> <p>***</p> <p> </p> <p>It is an incredible honour to be invited to make a presentation to the Judges of the Federal Court of Australia. </p> <p>This, of course, is the only way that I would ever want to appear before you.</p> <p>As an engineering student, I envied my law student friends for their opportunity to participate in the theatre of the moot court.</p> <p>So now, in this hallowed location, but in the comfort of a genial dinner, with your indulgence I will take the opportunity to make up for what I never had as an engineering student.</p> <p>In that spirit, <u>may it please the Court</u>, this is the matter of the Law vs Science, and I stand before you, your Honours, as Australia’s Chief Scientist and <u>Chief Counsel to the defendant</u>.</p> <p>As a scientist, my world depends on laws.</p> <p>We have Newton’s Laws of Motion, Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Trajectories, Mendel’s Law of Inheritance, the Laws of Thermodynamics, and many more.</p> <p>All scientific knowledge rests on these <em>axiomatic</em> laws, which haven’t changed in <em>13.7 billion years</em>, since the Big Bang, the very origin of our universe.</p> <p>So I know where <em>my</em> laws emanate from, your Honours.</p> <p>In thinking about this <u>opening statement</u>, however, I started pondering on the other kind of laws, <em>your</em> kind of laws, and why, for centuries, scientists have called the measurable, predictable regularities found in nature ‘laws’.</p> <p>The concept first appeared as a metaphor in Latin poetry, before gaining a firm theoretical presence in Ancient Rome.</p> <p>Roman jurists and philosophers argued that the very essence of law rested not upon the arbitrary will of a ruler, but upon what they labelled the <em>lex naturae</em>, the natural condition that exists both in our world and in our being.</p> <p>The laws of morality, like the laws of science, were therefore not derived from humanity but from nature, and stood eternal, universal, and self-evident.</p> <p>Hence, to this day, the term ‘natural law’ is interchangeably used to describe immutable moral principles and natural phenomena.</p> <p>It is a foundation that shapes both our professions; our ‘modus operandi’ if you will.</p> <p>But, your Honours, <u>let me call your attention</u> to the crux of this <u>case</u>:</p> <p>Can our old values guide the adoption of new technologies?</p> <p>In particular, can ‘natural law’ <u>order</u> the behaviour of artificial intelligence in our society?</p> <p>Artificial Intelligence has moved forward at such a dizzying pace that it is pushing us towards bold new frontiers of imagination and innovation.</p> <p>I make this statement not based on theory or ideology, but <u>beyond reasonable doubt</u>.</p> <p>Here’s the most important piece of evidence: The integration of Artificial Intelligence has made life better for countless individuals. Across all facets of society, we’re experiencing a transformation that echoes the great industrial revolutions of history.</p> <p><u>I couldn’t put it any higher than that</u>, your Honours.</p> <p>Consider the use of A.I. for A.I.</p> <p>By that I mean Artificial Intelligence for Artificial Insemination, otherwise known as In Vitro Fertilisation.</p> <p>In a standard IVF procedure, clinics wait for the newly fertilised eggs to develop over five days into embryos, before the doctors decide which of the batch to implant into a hopeful mother.</p> <p>They judge, by its appearance, which embryo gives the best shot at a successful pregnancy.</p> <p>But human doctors can’t watch the developing embryos constantly – 24/7 – for five days straight.</p> <p>A.I. can.</p> <p>And human doctors can’t be trained on thousands and thousands of hours of time-lapse footage of embryo development.</p> <p>A.I. can.</p> <p>A.I. is helping make that choice more reliably right now through Australian company Presagen and its pioneering product Life Whisperer.</p> <p>It’s a breakthrough use of Artificial Intelligence that, just this month, commenced its first clinical trials.</p> <p>Or, the A.I. from Google’s DeepMind division, which is now able to predict whether a patient has potentially fatal kidney injuries 48 hours before symptoms can be identified by doctors.</p> <p>In <em>your</em> profession, we are seeing A.I. helping lawyers perform due diligence by searching, highlighting, and extracting relevant content for analysis; by providing additional insights and extracting key data points through analytics; and by streamlining work processes.</p> <p>Fully automated creation, negotiation, execution, and filing of agreements, applications, and contracts, is saving jurists and lawyers thousands of hours of work.</p> <p>It is important to recognise that A.I. is not automating the legal profession out of existence. On the contrary, A.I. is facilitating growth and productivity by increasing accuracy and optimising efficiencies.</p> <p>Why should humans do repetitive or menial tasks we are ill-suited to do for long periods, when we can free up our time for higher order thinking?</p> <p><u>If the Court pleases</u>, let me provide an analogy.</p> <p>I have a pilot’s license and I can still recall, when I was training on cross-country navigation, my instructor asking me why I wasn’t using the autopilot.</p> <p>My reply was that I thought it was cheating, and he thundered back “No! Use all the tools at your disposal. That way you will free up your mind to deal with other higher level challenges, like watching for other planes, monitoring the weather and checking flight-critical systems.”</p> <p>My little effort to resist the use of technology is an example of the broader truism: resistance to the rampant march of technology is futile, and self-defeating.</p> <p><u>Let me rephrase that</u>. “A.I. won’t replace lawyers, but lawyers who use A.I. will replace those who don’t.”</p> <p>May I repeat that, your Honours. “A.I. won’t replace lawyers, but lawyers who use A.I. will replace those who don’t.”</p> <p>I say this while being deeply aware of the challenges of A.I.</p> <p>At this time, I would like to <u>direct your attention to Science’s Exhibit A</u>.</p> <p>Can Artificial Intelligence match or even surpass the marvels and creativity of human intelligence?</p> <p>How about we take a great human writer – let’s say, Shakespeare. I’m sure we can all agree that as writers go, he was pretty good.</p> <p>Can you tell if these lines were written by Shakespeare, or by A.I.?</p> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.landscape" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="d0795f47-a58f-4ba0-ae0e-40abaddad629" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity align-center"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/landscape/public/2019-12/Shakespeare%20Slide2.jpg?itok=QoPuM7tq" width="600" height="338" alt="Shakespeare or AI?" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> <p>Now let’s turn to art.</p> <p>Rembrandt. You’ve heard of him. He was a pretty decent painter.</p> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.landscape" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="5660d6af-3a90-40a4-9977-d34583e1dcc3" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity align-center"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/landscape/public/2019-12/Slide3.JPG?itok=RgHmAk6s" width="600" height="338" alt="Rembrant style images" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </article> </div> <p>Two of these were painted by Rembrandt. Which one was painted not by Rembrandt... but by a RemBot?</p> <p>Finally, what happens when you mix easy access to increasingly sophisticated technology, a high-stakes election, and a social media giant?</p> <p> </p> <div data-embed-button="media_entity_embed" data-entity-embed-display="view_mode:media.480px_wide" data-entity-type="media" data-entity-uuid="2736f8ae-4aaf-413b-98e4-19dd58a13829" data-langcode="en" class="embedded-entity align-center"> <article> <div class="field field--name-field-media-video-file field--type-file field--label-hidden field__item"><video controls="controls" width="640" height="480"><br /> <source src="/sites/default/files/2019-11/deepfakes.mp4" type="video/mp4"></source><br /> </video> </div> </article> </div> <p>These videos are expertly crafted ‘deepfakes’, A.I.-based technology that can produce doctored images and videos that look and sound just like the real thing.</p> <p>They illustrate not only how convincing manipulated video content has become, but also the paradox that defines Artificial Intelligence today.</p> <p>Like other technologies such as medicines and electricity and petrol, the same inventions that serve humanity can also cause great harm.</p> <p>We cannot dismiss these deepfakes. They are powerful. They are pervasive. And they have the potential to erode and discredit the community’s confidence in the integrity of A.I.</p> <p>To forever shroud A.I. in suspicion and scepticism.</p> <p>Indeed, I believe that only by acknowledging and confronting this reality can we ensure that the darker aspects of A.I. do not tarnish both the value and the virtue of our scientific progress.</p> <p>As such, the development of A.I. provides us with an opportunity not only for intellectual growth, but for moral leadership.</p> <p>That means your job and my job are fundamentally interconnected.</p> <p>Through concerted and collective efforts we can fashion a framework that will enable Australia to be global leaders in the field of A.I. ethics and human rights.</p> <p>Showing the world how to advance the cause of scientific research while staying true to the ideals of a prudent and virtuous society.</p> <p>Just this month, the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Karen Andrews, released a set of ‘A.I. Ethics Principles’ to build public trust, as well as help guide businesses and government to responsibly develop and use A.I. systems.</p> <p>And, at the same time, the Human Rights Commission, under the leadership of Ed Santow, is deep diving into the difficult issue of human rights and digital technology. I am proud to be on the advisory committee.</p> <p>As protectors of our civil liberties, your role in this endeavour will be crucial.</p> <p>You can help us identify barriers to opportunity, advocate fairness and consistency in its administration, and create A.I’s agenda for decades to come.</p> <p>There is, your Honours, <u>a factual basis for this plea</u>.</p> <p>Across Australia we still rely on a rulebook written in a different century.</p> <p>As a giant of our legal history, Sir Isaac Isaacs, once stated: our laws “are made, not for the moment of their enactment but for the future…[they are] a living instrument capable of fulfilling its high purpose of accompanying and aiding the national growth and progress of the people for whom it has been made.”</p> <p>We therefore look to you, <u>in humble submission</u>, to help shape the course of this century, just as your predecessors helped shape the last.</p> <p>However, there’s a conundrum: we know that our laws are continually improved and adapted to reflect new conditions and realities; but we also know that technology and our reliance on its capabilities is evolving much faster than our laws.</p> <p>Given this, will the Law effectively manage the behaviour of A.I. society — as it does with human society — to maximise common good and individual good?</p> <p>The Law is essential to preserving order in a democracy. And we cannot have order unless people are certain of the full scope of their rights and legal protections.</p> <p>As such, ambiguity over the principles that govern A.I.’s application, threatens our way of life.</p> <p>As does A.I’s vulnerability to be manipulated to <u>give false testimony</u>.</p> <p>Think back to those deepfake videos. If, up to two or three years ago, you were presented with a single security camera’s footage detailing a crime, the prima facie evidence against the defendant would have been quite damning. But today, can you be so sure?</p> <p>The answer is clearly no.</p> <p>But, on the other hand, this era of technological revolution has created many more sources of evidence, with phone cameras and video recorders now in abundance.</p> <p>So, you will have statistical means at your disposal to determine the credibility of evidence that might not merely be tampered with, but fake from scratch.</p> <p>I <u>call your attention</u> to another question:</p> <p>Will A.I. serve to encourage and empower an ethical society or will it weaken us and drag us down into dependence and disrepute?</p> <p>The A.I. we want is a product of understanding and agreement and morality, based on justice and security and individual freedoms.</p> <p>But the risk of overreach — the possibility that we lose some of our core liberties in pursuit of progress — also becomes more pronounced.</p> <p>Take the most common application that people think of when you ask them about A.I. in society — facial recognition. </p> <p>I heard a story recently from Ted ‘Smith’, a friend. A story that emphasises just how powerful facial recognition, monitoring cameras, and connected databases are.</p> <p>The tale of Ted is not <u>hearsay</u>. The witness was <u>cross-examined</u> by yours truly.</p> <p>Ted was picking up his daughter at Brisbane airport, when she realised that she had had left her reading glasses on the plane.</p> <p>Given his daughter had to get to a meeting in the city, Ted suggested she proceed by taxi while he would go back into the airport and find her glasses.</p> <p>After checking with the airline service desk he was told to go to lost property. </p> <p>As he was leaving the arrivals area, Ted saw a laptop computer, seemingly forgotten on a seat. </p> <p>Not able to see an owner, he picked it up to take it with him to lost property since he was going there anyway.</p> <p>A minute later, his phone rang.</p> <p>“Good afternoon ‘Mr Smith’. I’m a detective from the Australian Federal Police. We have jurisdiction over this airport and are aware that you picked up an unattended laptop computer. Please proceed to the nearby Police precinct.”</p> <p>Ted still has no idea how the Police knew he had picked up the laptop nor how they had identified him or obtained his phone number.</p> <p>Off he went to the precinct, where he handed over the laptop to an Officer who guided him through filling in the required paperwork to hand over the laptop.</p> <p>There was no threat of discipline expressed nor any mention of any follow-up.</p> <p>Ted is convinced it was a test of a new facial recognition system.</p> <p>This is Ted’s <u>sworn testimony</u>. And he is an <u>expert witness</u>.</p> <p>His story is therefore <u>marked as evidence</u> that the impact of A.I. in Australia is no dream of the future. It is here, now, today.</p> <p>We cannot turn back the tide of technology, and we must therefore define the nature and scope of its application, or else, it will define us.</p> <p>We must always remember that the same enlightened society that advanced the cause of science has also advanced the cause of justice.</p> <p>The same persistence that opened up new frontiers of discovery, also opened new doors of opportunity.</p> <p>As the holders of this legacy, we bear great responsibility to ensure the sacred ideals embodied in this building continue to be afforded to everyone.</p> <p>And while A.I. can be a powerful aid to our cause, the consequences of any single slip-up are immense.</p> <p>To focus on the basics, if A.I. is intended to make law firms more efficient, how is that consistent with the doctrine of maximising billable hours?</p> <p>On a more serious note, A.I. based risk assessment tools are being increasingly used in the criminal justice system to guide sentencing.</p> <p>One of the most widely used by U.S. courts is COMPAS, which has assessed more than 1 million offenders since it was first developed in 1998.</p> <p>COMPAS works by analysing answers to a questionnaire that defendants must complete.</p> <p>The 137 questions gather the defendant’s personal history, such as whether one of their parents was ever sent to jail, or the number of their friends taking drugs illegally.</p> <p>It also asks people to agree or disagree with statements such as “A hungry person has a right to steal” and “If people make me angry or lose my temper, I can be dangerous.”</p> <p>Using the answers provided, COMPAS creates an assessment for risk of reoffending, which can then inform a judge’s sentencing.</p> <p>But there’s a problem.</p> <p>Although race is not one of the questions used, other aspects of the data may be inadvertently <em>correlated</em> to race — such as poverty, unemployment, and social disadvantage — that can lead to racial disparities in the predictions.</p> <p>In fact, in 2016, the news organisation ProPublica reported extensive racial discrimination in COMPAS.</p> <p>According to the report, COMPAS was deeming black defendants to be at a risk of recidivism at <em>double</em> the rate they actually were, while predicting the reverse, that is <em>half</em> of what was actually the case, for white defendants.</p> <p>COMPAS' developers have since questioned ProPublica’s analysis but the fact still remains: irrespective of the amount of data, in this context, A.I. systems may reach an upper limit to what they can achieve.  </p> <p><u>With the greatest of respect</u>, your Honours, I therefore exonerate the algorithm and convict the <u>accomplice</u>!</p> <p>It is indisputable that human judges are biased. Studies have illustrated how legal judgments can be influenced by a range of factors including a Judge’s upbringing, decision fatigue, unconscious assumptions, the time of day, the perceived attractiveness of the individuals involved, even when and what the Judge has eaten.</p> <p>Fortunately, the wide spectrum of ideologies across our legal system, spanning thousands of Judges, averages biases out.</p> <p>But, as with the case of COMPAS, if a single instance of the A.I. implementation becomes so successful that it is widely adopted, then it entrenches the bias across the whole system. There is no averaging out.</p> <p>To effectively combat this risk, <u>may the record reflect</u> that we will need to adopt two key strategies.</p> <p>First, we can guard against systemic bias by ensuring that no single A.I. based risk assessment tool ever captures more than a small percentage of the market.</p> <p>Second, we can go a step further by only adopting A.I. that has been methodically trained to avoid introducing biases.</p> <p>At the Australian National University, Professor Genevieve Bell and her team are establishing a new branch of engineering that intends to do just that.</p> <p>Making sure that the people who design and build our A.I. systems represent the myriad cultures, experiences, and perspectives that make up our vibrant society.</p> <p>Aiming to deliver an authentically Australian A.I. — powered by <em>our</em> energy and creativity, and bound by <em>our</em> shared values.</p> <p>But, computer engineers simply do not and cannot have the acumen needed to craft algorithms in each respective field.</p> <p>I therefore <u>move, your Honours</u>, that you take an active and central role in the adoption and judicial oversight of A.I. in the legal profession, and broader Australian society.</p> <p>Only your sound legal minds, can ensure we have a sound legal system in the future.</p> <p>Your Honours, you have <u>seen and heard Science’s plea in this case</u>.</p> <p><u>In closing</u>, let me <u>review with you the key pieces of evidence presented</u>.</p> <p>First, embrace technology; resistance is futile.</p> <p>Second, be at the forefront of developing solutions to the changing nature of evidence.</p> <p>Third, guide the technological development and ensure that no single risk assessment tool can dominate.</p> <p>So what’s the <u>verdict</u> on A.I.?</p> <p>Well that’s your <u>jurisdiction</u>, <em>my </em>laws are axiomatic and, as such, I <u>recuse</u> myself from this <u>deliberation</u>.</p> <p>But <u>the evidence shows</u> that <em>your </em>laws are not axiomatic and cannot be.</p> <p>As Sir Isaac Isaacs rightly affirmed, the Laws of Australia are <em>living entities</em>; subjective and experiential in nature, shaped by societal decisions, and grounded in our core tenets.</p> <p>And like any living entity, they evolve over time.</p> <p>Our morality supports them, our righteousness sustains them, and our conviction that we are all equally entitled to inherent human rights and values, gives them vitality and force.</p> <p>With that, it is altogether appropriate to say two things.</p> <p>It’s time <u>to adjourn</u>, and May the Force be with you.</p> <p>Thank you.</p> <p><strong>*****</strong></p> <p>Link to report on the Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn deepfake videos</p> <p><a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/av/technology-50381728/the-fake-video-where-johnson-and-corbyn-endorse-each-other">https://www.bbc.com/news/av/technology-50381728/the-fake-video-where-johnson-and-corbyn-endorse-each-other</a></p> <p>Link to report on Mark Zuckerberg deepfake video</p> <p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbedWhzx1rs">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbedWhzx1rs</a></p> <p> </p> <p> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-attachments field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Attachments</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/media/1199" hreflang="en">Can natural law underpin artificial intelligence?</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/news/speeches" hreflang="en">Speeches</a></li> </ul> </div> Fri, 29 Nov 2019 04:45:34 +0000 ROettle 1322 at https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au Harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to benefit all https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/news-and-media/harnessing-power-artificial-intelligence-benefit-all <h1 class="au-header-heading">Harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to benefit all</h1> <span><span lang="" about="/user/10" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Kathleen Horne</span></span> <span>Thu, 2019-10-31 13:06</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>"Science often moves faster than our ability to fully grasp all of its implications, leaving a trail of moral and ethical dilemmas in its wake. As the genius of AI pushes the boundaries of what we <em>can</em> do, we are faced with increasingly complex questions about what we <em>should</em> do."</p> <p>Dr Finkel spoke to the Go8 Artificial Intelligence Collaboration and Commercialisation Summit on Thursday 31 October in Melbourne on the benefits of artificial intelligence, and the interplay of ethics and science.</p> <p>His full speech is below, and also available as a <a href="https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-12/Group%20of%208%20Artificial%20Intelligence%20Summit%20Melbourne%202019.pdf">PDF</a>.</p> <p>*********</p> <p>In 1770, a Hungarian inventor named Wolfgang von Kempelen unveiled his latest creation to the Imperial Court in Vienna.</p> <p>Was it an animated carnival mask? A gravity-fed water purifying machine?</p> <p>No. It was a chess-playing machine that beat its human opponents with confident ease.</p> <p>Dubbed ‘The Turk’, the machine consisted of a life-sized, human-like figure, dressed in robes and a turban, seated at a wooden cabinet that was overlaid with a chessboard.</p> <p>von Kempelen made a great show of displaying the machine’s inner workings. He would open the cabinet doors to reveal a whirling clockwork of densely packed wheels, cogs, and levers.</p> <p>‘The Turk’ would then be wound up and, as described by Edgar Allan Poe, begin to “roll its eyes, as if surveying the board, move its head, and pronounce the word ‘check’ when necessary”…and the phrase ‘checkmate’ with glee.</p> <p>The automaton became a global sensation, drawing huge crowds at exhibitions, and defeating human challengers such as Benjamin Franklin, Napoleon Bonaparte, Frederick the Great, and the Emperor and Empress of Russia.</p> <p>The age of Artificial Intelligence had apparently begun.</p> <p>But, alas, the Turk turned out to be a hoax – a sequential roster of human chess masters would hide inside the cabinet, controlling The Turk’s movement through a clever arrangement of magnets and strings to make it appear as if the ‘machine’ was outsmarting humans.</p> <p>Fast forward to 2005, when Amazon borrowed the concept with the launch of the Amazon Mechanical Turk – an online marketplace where, like the chess masters of the 18th century, people, hidden from view, can be hired by companies to perform discrete tasks that computers are currently unable to do, such as identifying specific content in a video.</p> <p>As they go about their tasks, the actions and decisions of these online workers are providing the world’s biggest tech companies with high-quality data that is then used to train computer systems to better recognise patterns, creating ever-more accurate algorithms, until, eventually, there will no longer be a need for human intelligence – eliminated one microtask at a time.</p> <p>As A.I. becomes more and more powerful, I find myself looking for areas where we mere mortals, otherwise known as humans, have the upper hand.</p> <p>It’s a diminishing pool.</p> <p>It took more than 200 years after ‘The Turk’ but, in 1997, IBM created Deep Blue, the first supercomputer to defeat a reigning world chess champion … without the hidden human.</p> <p>But at the time we humans could take solace, because Deep Blue relied on “brute force” to achieve victory, rather than analysing gameplay and visualising the possible moves.</p> <p>Surely, I thought, we humans would have the upper hand in poker, a game requiring human intuition and bluffing. Most commentators believed it would, therefore, be a holdout. But that border was breached in 2017.</p> <p>Then surely human intelligence would have the upper hand in the Chinese game of ‘Go’, which has trillions more potential moves than chess. Another breach, this time in 2016, when a program named AlphaGo, developed by UK company DeepMind, beat the world's best player.</p> <p>This was <em>truly</em> artificial intelligence, where AlphaGo learned from hundreds of thousands of games played between humans until, ultimately, it worked out how to master the game.</p> <p>Then, to add insult to injury, a year later an improved version was produced – AlphaZero. So smart that it didn’t even bother to look at human games. Instead, AlphaZero was simply given the rules, then played hundreds of thousands of games against itself, starting as a complete novice but getting better and better every second.</p> <p>36 hours after it was switched on, AlphaZero defeated its predecessor and became the ‘Go’ world champion.</p> <p>For many years I thought that recognising faces would be the mark of our superiority. In fact, like other pundits, I used to explain to anyone who would listen why it would be so difficult for A.I. to beat us on facial recognition. But sure enough, while I was still expressing my confidence in our superiority, the threshold was reached where A.I. could recognise faces more effectively than we humans.</p> <p>So, what is the next human capability that is uniquely ours and beyond the reach of A.I.? Is it art? Not really, there are programs that paint original paintings in the style of Rembrandt.</p> <p>“I know”, I said to myself, “it has to be speech writing”. So I did a Google search and found that, so far, it’s not happening.</p> <p>So I put it to you that this is the next frontier. We can be proud to be human because we remain solely capable of stringing thoughts together for a speech.</p> <p>And it is our thoughts, our unique human ability to meditate on the known and unknown, that will be critical as we delve into the challenge of ensuring that our zeal for innovation never betrays our values.</p> <p>Science often moves faster than our ability to fully grasp all of its implications, leaving a trail of moral and ethical dilemmas in its wake.</p> <p>As the genius of A.I. pushes the boundaries of what we can do, we are faced with increasingly complex questions about what we <em>should</em> do.</p> <p>Answering these questions requires the application of ethics rather than physics. As such, it is not the province solely of scientists, but of every individual.</p> <p>That is why today’s Summit is so important.</p> <p>Each of us here is not simply sharing in a one-off event. We are sharing in an ongoing effort to harness the power of scientific progress for the benefit of our society, while safeguarding the ideals of our society.</p> <p>The thoughts exchanged here today will go a long way to ensure that A.I. is the servant of our needs instead of the other way around.</p> <p>So let me share with you some of <em>my</em> thoughts.</p> <p>I believe we must pursue the tremendous possibilities of A.I., and I believe we can do so while still fostering our commitment to human values, to the good of society, and to our basic sense of right and wrong.</p> <p>My belief stems from the fundamental tenets and ideals of Australia itself. It is shaped by our history, by our proven capacity to adapt to rapid changes, and by the egalitarian nature of our society.</p> <p>There is a question often put to me: is Australia likely to be a leader in developing A.I. or just a follower who imports A.I.?</p> <p>I believe this to be a false dichotomy.</p> <p>We <em>are</em> capable technology innovators, but we have always imported more technology than we develop. That’s inevitable, given our size.</p> <p>However, that does not mean we have to accept a future dictated by overseas companies.</p> <p>To the contrary, with smart, strategic applications we can find niches where we can excel and define our own future.</p> <p>Indeed, the latest Australian Research Council review of university research performance found 11 of our universities are currently performing at world standard in the field of artificial intelligence, 11 above world standard, and 7 out of 40 well above world standard, up from only 1 university at that ranking in 2015.</p> <p>This is a wonderful achievement, and testament to the strength and capacity of our university system.</p> <p>But when stated by themselves, statistics can detract from the human element behind the numbers; the promise of what this can mean for people's lives.</p> <p>I firmly believe that the unmatched opportunities for A.I. will only be assured in this country if it is developed with an eye to demonstrating clear benefits to individual Australians.</p> <p>Focussing on what CSIRO Chief Executive Officer Dr Larry Marshall calls <em>A.I. for a purpose</em>.</p> <p>Through this lens, I am personally interested in looking at fields as specific as</p> <p>A.I. for medical diagnostics</p> <p>A.I. for agriculture</p> <p>A.I. for financial services.</p> <p>Which is why, as Australia’s Chief Scientist, I am currently managing work of the National Science and Technology Council on “A.I. for Manufacturing”.</p> <p>In a field that has always been at the forefront of progress, there is enormous potential for A.I. to shape the future of manufacturing – both the scope of what manufacturers <em>can</em> create and <em>how</em> they create it.</p> <p>But for A.I.’s opportunities to be fully realised, Australian businesses and their workers will need to be adequately prepared and equipped to embrace its benefits.</p> <p>And so, we look to you, our researchers and academics – the experts in A.I. development, implementation and adoption – to cultivate the necessary skillsets. Across the breadth of our universities and ultimately across the breadth of our society.</p> <p>This important role of universities was very prominent last month, when M.I.T in the United States launched a brand new college for A.I.</p> <p>The goal of the Schwarzman College is to “educate the bilinguals of the future”. The term ‘bilinguals’ describes the future graduates in chemistry, politics and history who will also be skilled in the relevant techniques of modern computing; further empowering them in their discipline. A.I. everywhere, just like statistics.</p> <p>It is imperative we explore this concept in Australia.</p> <p>By integrating A.I. into the broader fabric of our university curricula, we can generate advances of unlimited potential in all fields, building the workforce and industries of the future.</p> <p>I am counting on you to be the leaders in turning this vision into a reality and furthering the goals, aspirations, and moral principles of our society.</p> <p>You are held to this benchmark precisely because you have <em>always</em> been at the forefront of our nation’s proud record of upholding the highest standards of ethics while expanding the limits of science and knowledge.</p> <p>I think of IVF, which started right here, as a combined research project between Monash University and the University of Melbourne.</p> <p>Building on the work of Professors Alan Trounson and Carl Wood, the first IVF baby, Louise Brown, was born in the U.K. in 1978.</p> <p>Australia’s first, and the world’s third IVF birth, took place in 1980 here in Melbourne under the supervision of a Monash University team, as did the world’s next nine IVF babies.</p> <p>But think for a moment about the torment of raw emotions that early prospective mothers experienced with this procedure.</p> <p>The conflicting anguish and hope.</p> <p>The gnawing fear that their IVF baby might be in some way abnormal at birth, or at age 5, or 15, or 30.</p> <p>Fear, magnified in their minds by the overwhelming ethical and religious debates raging across society at the time.</p> <p>In most circumstances, these negative concerns would have prevented this new technology from ever being introduced.</p> <p>But they were outweighed by one powerful incentive: IVF’s precious gift of matchless value.</p> <p>Today, there are more than 8 million babies born from IVF. They are living proof not only of the wonders of modern science, but of our ability to keep our ingenuity rooted in our values.</p> <p>These babies are not just statistics – they are human beings who brought mothers, fathers, grandparents and extended families the joy of bringing a baby into the world.</p> <p>They are individuals who will experience birthdays, graduations, weddings, children of their own, and who, just decades ago, would not have had a chance at life.</p> <p>It was precisely because of this extraordinary and visible benefit to individuals that we were able to work our way through IVF’s novel challenges.</p> <p>And it is important to remember and acknowledge just how critical our university and research sectors were in solving these challenges and in shaping the multi-disciplinary framework behind IVF.</p> <p>In 1982, the sizeable and extremely sensitive task of designing pioneering laws to govern IVF treatments was given to Monash University’s own Professor Louis Waller, and I was saddened to hear of his recent passing.</p> <p>The Waller Committee report, which carefully considered the social, ethical and legal issues arising from IVF, directly led to Victoria becoming the first state in Australia, and the first government in the world, to regulate the practice of IVF.</p> <p>And establish the world’s first central IVF register.</p> <p>And so, IVF became an accepted, mainstream procedure.</p> <p>Fast forward to the present, and it will not surprise you that artificial intelligence is contributing to improved outcomes.</p> <p>In a conventional IVF procedure, embryos are assessed by human beings – otherwise known as doctors – to choose which embryos to implant to maximise the likelihood of a successful pregnancy.</p> <p>A.I. is now helping to make that choice more reliable.</p> <p>At the forefront, is Australian company Life Whisperer Diagnostics, which emerged from the University of Adelaide.</p> <p>Its A.I. diagnostics product identifies the best embryos for implantation, with the goal of reducing multiple births and improving the pregnancy success rate.</p> <p>This a perfect example of how we can utilise the brilliance of A.I. to serve human needs.</p> <p>And yet, while A.I. shows us how it can be of immense service to humanity, it cannot show us how to prevent its immoral use.</p> <p>That’s up to us. And it requires constant vigilance.</p> <p>Just this month, we learned that Google has obtained a patent to use an array of sensors and cameras to monitor home activity, with the capacity to work out the title of the book you’re reading in bed.</p> <p>To put this into context, what if I proposed a complete stranger coming to your door and offering you unlimited free furniture and non-stick frypans, in exchange for allowing them to camp out in your bedroom for the next two weeks and observe your, and your family’s, behaviour? Would you agree?</p> <p>Of course not.</p> <p>We are repulsed by this prospect not because of its unfamiliarity, but because we innately feel that it violates fundamental principles we rightfully hold dear.</p> <p>But Google wants to do that – not for two weeks but potentially for the rest of your life.</p> <p>The idea of treating humans as objects, as data, to be studied and manipulated, rather than as cherished individuals entitled to inherent worth and dignity, stirs our deepest convictions.</p> <p>It crosses a moral boundary that needlessly encourages a conflict between science and ethics, which can only damage both our scientific endeavours and our nation as a whole.</p> <p>No matter how fast the pace of A.I. innovation, it must never surpass the primacy of human rights.</p> <p>Much will be lost if we discard our moral compass in the name of progress.</p> <p>And yet, if approached correctly, this challenge can also be a golden opportunity for Australia.</p> <p>We can define our own future by being world-leaders in the field of A.I. ethics and human rights.</p> <p>Showing the world how to advance the cause of scientific discovery while staying true to the ideals of a prudent and virtuous society.</p> <p>Like we did for IVF.</p> <p>To that end, in April this year, CSIRO’s Data61 and the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation and Science released a discussion paper to inform the development of an Australian A.I. Ethics Framework.</p> <p>In view of the emerging technological realities of A.I., the Framework aims to formulate new protections to build public trust, as well as help guide businesses and governments to responsibly develop and use A.I. systems.</p> <p>At the same time, the Human Rights Commission, under the leadership of Ed Santow, is deep diving into the difficult issue of human rights and digital technology, and I am proud to be on the advisory committee.</p> <p>Of course, the Human Rights Commission, the Government and the Australian community need to hear from universities about how to use A.I. for the benefit of all Australians.</p> <p>Not just from the computer science department, but also from our academic leaders in ethics, philosophy, law and business.</p> <p>As a reservoir of ideas, and a touchstone of our morality, input from across our universities will be crucial as we navigate the uncharted waters of promoting A.I.’s promise, while safeguarding against its potential perils.</p> <p>Working together, to help steer A.I. towards preserving and enhancing the quality of our lives, and the vigour of our ideals.</p> <p>As we go forward, I hope we will always be guided by our capabilities, our conscience…and our collective human thoughts.</p> <p>May the Force be with you.</p> <p> </p> <p>Thank you.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/news/speeches" hreflang="en">Speeches</a></li> </ul> </div> Thu, 31 Oct 2019 02:06:29 +0000 Kathleen Horne 1317 at https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au Speech: Hydrogen safety, at scale https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/2019/09/speech-hydrogen-safety-at-scale <h1 class="au-header-heading">Speech: Hydrogen safety, at scale</h1> <span><span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Anonymous (not verified)</span></span> <span>Tue, 2019-09-24 10:00</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>“Simple activities, which are firmly embedded in our everyday lives, all have some degree of risk associated with their use.</p> <p>But we rightly expect our standards and codes to mitigate these risks as much as possible. And here in Australia we proudly have some of the highest safety standards in the world, which has garnered the trust of the Australian people as new technologies and innovations are introduced.”</p> <p>Dr Finkel spoke to the International Conference on Hydrogen Safety in Adelaide on Tuesday 24 September on how good safety regulations can be used to encourage the development of the hydrogen fuel industry, both in Australia and globally.</p> <p>His full speech is below, and also available as a <a href="/sites/default/files/Hydrogen-Safety-Speech-Adelaide-2019.pdf">PDF</a>.</p> <p>**************************</p> <p>Before looking to the future, I want to take you back to 1946.</p> <p>Sir Douglas Mawson, the famous explorer, is here in South Australia serving as a Professor at the University of Adelaide.</p> <p>In between his professorial duties, Mawson is waging a campaign to establish a permanent Australian presence in Antarctica.</p> <p>“As proprietors of so large a slice of the south” Mawson declares, “we owe to the world, and for our own benefit…to find a suitable site for a permanent base…[and] carry out scientific work which should be of great value to Australia”.</p> <p>Mawson’s activism succeeds and in 1948 the Australian Antarctic Division is born.</p> <p>Just six years later, under the leadership of explorer and scientist Dr Philip Law, the Australian Antarctic Division fulfils Mawson’s vision and establishes the first permanent research base on the Antarctic continent, naming it in his honour.</p> <p>Dr Law notes that Mawson Station could become “an arena…to demonstrate [Australia’s] scientific and technological excellence”.</p> <p>“But what does this have to do with hydrogen Alan?” I hear you asking.</p> <p>Well the incredibly hostile environment in which our Antarctic researchers live and work means a significant amount of fuel is needed to support their endeavours.</p> <p>In the year 2000, over two million litres of diesel fuel were used to provide power and heating to stations operated by the Australian Antarctic Division – and the purchase, transportation, and storage of such vast amounts of fossil fuel entail significant economic costs and environmental risks</p> <p>But what to do?</p> <p>When I was a child, I read a suspense novel called <em>Ice Station Zebra</em> by Alistair MacLean, in which the hero, spy agent Dr Carpenter, is trying to locate and rescue the team of an Antarctic weather-station that had been gutted by fire.</p> <p>This book forever cemented in my mind the danger associated with using fuel and electricity in Antarctica.</p> <p>As he is about to embark on his mission, Dr Carpenter laments “with their fuel oil reserves completely destroyed and their food stores all but wiped out, it is feared that those still living cannot long be expected to survive”.</p> <p>If only they had the enterprising team of the Australian Antarctic Division by their side!</p> <p>In 2005, using energy from wind turbines, and through the process of electrolysis, the Australian Antarctic Division was able to generate renewable hydrogen in Antarctica and transport it in cylinders using a hydrogen-powered quad bike.</p> <p>The hydrogen was then used to power the everyday activities of Australia’s Antarctic scientists on Mawson Station – fuelling cooking stoves and generating electricity to run heaters, lights, computers and even a bread-maker.</p> <p>What a staggering feat of ingenuity – proving that even in the coldest, darkest, most-hostile continent on Earth, where special materials and construction techniques are often required, hydrogen energy can be safely and effectively harnessed for human benefit.</p> <p>That way of thinking, that spirit of curiosity and innovation and the willingness to challenge boundaries of science and technology: to try, and fail, and then try again, it’s all part of the process of discovery.</p> <p>It’s what has spurred countless advances and benefits for our society.</p> <p>And yet, as the march of technology continues to present greater benefits, it also presents greater hazards than ever before.</p> <p>Take my day for instance.</p> <p>In getting ready for today’s Conference, I woke up and turned on my kettle to make a cup of tea.</p> <p>Feeling a headache coming on I took a paracetamol (acetaminophen for our U.S. friends), had a shower, got dressed, walked downstairs, and drove from my hotel to this Convention Centre.</p> <p>Finally, seeking a quick energy hit before my presentation, I bought a chocolate bar from the vending machine.</p> <p>On the face of it, a pretty mundane morning.</p> <p>But the reality is that these simple activities, which are firmly embedded in our everyday lives, all have some degree of risk associated with their use.</p> <p>Paracetamol is the substance most frequently involved in overdoses in Australia, with 10,000 people hospitalised and more than 20 people dying from paracetamol poisoning every year.</p> <p>Turning on my kettle and taking the stairs might appear innocuous but faulty appliances account for 60 house fires a week in the U.K., and in 2017, 77 Australians died from falling down the stairs or tripping on a step.</p> <p>Driving my car was positively reckless with more than three people a day killed on our roads.</p> <p>And as for my chocolate bar from the vending machine? According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, on average two people a year are crushed to death by toppling vending machines.</p> <p>And yet here I am, alive and well.</p> <p>As a society, we understand that accidents do, of course, happen, but we rightly expect our standards and codes to mitigate these risks as much as possible.</p> <p>And here in Australia we proudly have some of the highest safety standards in the world, which has garnered the trust of the Australian people as new technologies and innovations are introduced.</p> <p>Indeed, a study conducted last year by University of Queensland found that three in every four Australians trust our regulations and standards will enable the development of a safe hydrogen industry.</p> <p>Our challenge, therefore, is to live up to these standards and community expectations.</p> <p>Decades of experience and continuing progress in technologies have shown that hydrogen power is reliable and secure.</p> <p>From ammonia production to petrochemical refineries to metals processing to chemical, food, and glass manufacture, the safety record of hydrogen in this country is exemplary.</p> <p>I am confident that this record can be maintained as we seek to open new frontiers and expand our energy horizons.</p> <p>As Chair of the Council of Australian Government’s Hydrogen Working Group, I can report that we are currently developing our National Hydrogen Strategy by examining five areas of opportunity:</p> <p><strong>First –</strong> Analysing the benefits, risks, and barriers to using hydrogen as a transport fuel in Australia by 2030.</p> <p><strong>Second –</strong> the interplay between hydrogen production and electricity system operation, and the opportunities for clean hydrogen production and storage to contribute to the resilience of Australia’s electricity systems.</p> <p><strong>Third –</strong> Analysing the challenges and issues related to introducing hydrogen into Australia’s gas distribution networks, and examining the actions needed to start blending hydrogen into these networks.</p> <p><strong>Fourth –</strong> exploring opportunities for developing an export market for Australian hydrogen with partner countries.</p> <p><strong>And finally –</strong> investigating opportunities for hydrogen as a chemical feedstock and source of industrial heat</p> <p>I am, therefore, acutely aware of the unparalleled possibilities this source of power can unleash.</p> <p>However, I am also aware, and I firmly believe, that its benefits across all areas will only be realised by a wholehearted commitment to safety and transparency, and our ability to bring the Australian community along on the journey.</p> <p>To maintain the trust of the Australian people, every effort must be made to protect public health and safety and to provide straightforward answers to any legitimate concerns about producing hydrogen at scale.</p> <p>We must also ensure the process of determining the safety and environmental standards of hydrogen is more extensive and more accessible to the public than for any comparable enterprise.</p> <p>We must, in short, pay attention to every aspect of hydrogen safety – from down in the weeds, right up to the tree tops – and encourage everyone to get involved in this endeavour.</p> <p>Indeed, we have already seen how embracing a spirit of partnership across sectors, and enhancing public understanding of hydrogen, can reap benefits.</p> <p>In the State of California, through a creative collaboration of automotive companies, energy providers, developers, and government agencies, the California Fuel Cell Partnership has established a self-sustaining market for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, underpinned by a commitment to safety and transparency.</p> <p>Through exhibits, vehicle demonstrations, and presentations to schools, conferences, and community stakeholders, the Partnership ensured the public understood and felt comfortable with hydrogen technology prior to its introduction.</p> <p>Crucially, the Partnership also joined forces with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to develop and deliver hydrogen safety-related emergency services training materials and programs.</p> <p>As Hydrogen Safety Program manager at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and now Director of the Center for Hydrogen Safety, Nick Barilo, who is here with us today, noted “part of the training is to remove the stigma. People don’t understand what hydrogen is all about.”</p> <p>Through more than 10,000 sessions, emergency responders were educated on the safety features built into hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as well as what to expect when they arrive at the scene of a crash.</p> <p>The fruits of this labour are there for all to see, with Californians owning more hydrogen fuel cell vehicles than any country in the world.</p> <p>The numerous hydrogen stations along California’s highways offer a glimpse of how a comprehensive, coordinated approach can lead to a large, rapid growth in hydrogen demand.</p> <p>This success also illustrates one of the most important principles of good safety regulation, little understood by the public but fully understood by experts like yourselves.</p> <p>The principle is that we <em>can</em> have our cake and eat it too.</p> <p>More specifically, what I mean is that good safety regulation should <em>simultaneously</em> ensure the safety of the public and facilitate commerce.</p> <p>Which is why I am delighted that Australia will be joining the Center for Hydrogen Safety, exploring how our emergency services personnel can leverage the expertise of Nick and his team.</p> <p>By working together, we will further advance our collective goal of not only maximising safety but also enabling the industry to thrive by doing so.</p> <p>Indeed, ensuring this goal is realised has been the focus of this Conference since it was first held in 2005.</p> <p>At that first Conference in Pisa, Italy, members declared their intention “to improve and co-ordinate the knowledge and understanding of hydrogen safety, [and] foster a sound basis for the removal of safety-related barriers to the implementation of hydrogen as an energy carrier”.</p> <p>The growth of Conference participants over the subsequent years is proof of the success of that objective, as is the global recognition of HySafe as a centre of industry expertise.</p> <p>In Europe, in particular, your efforts have been instrumental in 25 European Union countries declaring their support for sustainable hydrogen technology, as well as securing EU funding of more than 100 million euros for hydrogen-related projects.</p> <p>Closer to home, the Government here in South Australia has been an active member of HySafe since 2018.</p> <p>It is testament to the vision and sustained action of successive South Australian governments, and its public service, that the Festival State is now an established world leader in the transition to a cleaner and more energy efficient future.</p> <p>Hosting this Conference for the first time ever on our shores underlines this commitment as we nurture hydrogen’s role in a sustainable energy system, and ensure safety underpins all elements in its development.</p> <p>The findings, information, and data presented by the world’s best hydrogen safety experts over the next three days will be invaluable to the pioneering work that lies ahead of us and I encourage you to reach out to members of our taskforce who are here with us today.</p> <p>Our nation’s capacity to utilise new industries and technologies to overcome our greatest challenges has driven our success as a nation: an Australia that lives and dies by its standards and quality brand.</p> <p>From Antarctica to the mainland, our nation’s story is replete with visionaries who reach for the frontier where exploration and discovery begin, who test the limits of human endurance and technology in their unyielding effort to turn a curiosity into concrete results.</p> <p>That same spirit can usher in a new national industry that will protect our environment, expand our economy, and create thousands of jobs, in a safe and efficient way. The time to act is now, to seize the moment.</p> <p>By working together to ensure the highest standards of safety, we can turn the long-held dream of clean hydrogen contributing to our energy needs into a reality, and inspire a new generation of innovators, dreamers, and doers.</p> <p>This conference is the perfect forum to safely journey along the next chapter in that dream.</p> <p>May the Force be with you.</p> <p>Thank you.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/news/speeches" hreflang="en">Speeches</a></li> </ul> </div> Tue, 24 Sep 2019 00:00:00 +0000 Anonymous 694 at https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au Speech: A relentless commitment to quality https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/2019/09/14243 <h1 class="au-header-heading">Speech: A relentless commitment to quality</h1> <span><span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Anonymous (not verified)</span></span> <span>Tue, 2019-09-17 10:00</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>“In the case of the research sector here and abroad, we need to acknowledge that as good as the research system is, there is a problem. There are a significant number of papers that are poor quality, and should never have made it through to publication. In considering why this might be the case, I have found myself reflecting on the role of incentives in the research system.”</p> <p>Dr Finkel gave the keynote address at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity Fifth Anniversary Celebrations in Melbourne on Thursday 12 September 2019.</p> <p>The full speech is available below, or can be downloaded as a <a href="/sites/default/files/Doherty-speech-2019-website.pdf">pdf</a>.</p> <p>***************************</p> <p><strong>A Relentless Commitment to Quality</strong></p> <p>It’s always a pleasure to reflect on the outstanding work of Australia’s research sector and to celebrate its achievements.</p> <p>And what an achievement the Peter Doherty Institute is – five years on.</p> <p>Sharon, as inaugural director of this Institute, I congratulate you on your stellar leadership. Having dedicated more than 25 years to tackling HIV and infectious diseases, you’re clearly not one to shy away from a challenge.</p> <p>You’ve been described as a key player in the search for an HIV cure, both in the basic biology of HIV latency and in taking this knowledge from the bench to the bedside. An outstanding researcher, clinician, teacher and administrator.</p> <p>A good friend. And now, director of a world-class research institute.</p> <p>But, with no disrespect, Sharon, you are like me. You get the credit for what is clearly a team effort.</p> <p>Like all organisations, as Aristotle put it so elegantly, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.</p> <p>And so it is with the Doherty Institute.</p> <p>Whether it is elucidating the role of tissue resident T cells in the formation of immunological memory, the development of novel vaccines for influenza, or combatting antimicrobial resistance – to name just a few – the work being undertaken here at the Doherty Institute is outstanding.</p> <p>But we all know, and as I learned from one of my heroes, Sir Isaac Newton: as scientists, we stand on the shoulders of giants.</p> <p>And Professor Peter Doherty, what a giant.</p> <p>Awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1996 together with Rolf Zinkernagel for the fundamental discovery of how the immune system recognises an 'altered self’.</p> <p>Revolutionary at the time. Now in every textbook.</p> <p>This discovery has since provided an important basis for cutting edge therapies, such as promising new drugs that harness killer T cells for cancer therapy.</p> <p>But Peter, you didn’t rest on your laurels after being awarded science’s top honour.</p> <p>You certainly live by the Doherty Institute’s vision:</p> <p><em>'Discover today, deliver tomorrow, inspire always’. </em></p> <p>I recall seeing you maybe ten years ago now, at a baggage carousel in Melbourne airport.</p> <p>We were both returning from international trips, and as we waited for our bags to come through, you rattled off your list of guest lectureships and talks that you had just delivered.</p> <p>Peter, I was exhausted just listening to you. What a devoted person you are, giving back to the international community and showing such outstanding leadership.</p> <p>The leadership of Peter, and Sharon, and many others around the country, all contribute to Australian research being recognised as being of a very high standard, nationally and internationally.</p> <p>In the main, we are producing high quality research that is rigorous and reproducible, and makes a significant contribution towards scientific progress.</p> <p>But just because something is going well, that doesn’t mean we can’t do it better.</p> <p>My credo in life is that there is always a better way.</p> <p>In the case of the research sector here and abroad, we need to acknowledge that as good as the research system is, there is a problem. There are a significant number of papers that are poor quality, and should never have made it through to publication.</p> <p>In considering why this might be the case, I have found myself reflecting on the role of incentives in the research system.</p> <p>Because incentives matter, as we have seen through the findings of Kenneth Hayne and the Royal Commission he led into the banking sector.</p> <p>The Royal Commission has been an eye opener in the way it has shone a light on how the sector incentivises its employees.</p> <p>You may wonder why I am referencing a Royal Commission into the banking sector in a speech to a room of medical researchers.</p> <p>My reason is that my life experience has taught me that fundamental lessons are often transdisciplinary. In this case, I consider that the lessons arising from the Royal Commission <em>are</em> inherently relevant to the research sector.</p> <p>Because there are some incentives within the research community that, in my view, need to be looked at.</p> <p>It’s not that the system is broken.</p> <p>It’s more that we may be inadvertently encouraging poor behaviour.</p> <p>And to ensure research remains high-quality and trustworthy, we need to get the incentives right.</p> <p>We can learn the lessons from the Royal Commission.</p> <p>What we learned is that over the last decade or two, the banking sector moved from salary based remuneration to bonus based remuneration. But those bonuses have been mapping to the wrong values: to sales and profit instead of compliance with the law and net benefit to customers.</p> <p>For example, mortgage brokers had, and in some cases still have, incentives to push borrowers into the largest loan possible, beyond their realistic capacity to repay, because the broker’s commissions increased with the size of the loan.</p> <p>Staff were paid commissions when signing up vulnerable people, even dead people, who clearly had no ability to repay their loans. I’ll leave it up to others to determine if these were criminal acts, but they definitely fall below the standard that the community expects of our banks.</p> <p>To quote Commissioner Hayne:</p> <p>“Rewards have been paid <em>regardless</em> of whether the person rewarded <em>should</em> <em>have</em> done what they did.”</p> <p>The question must be, <em>should</em> we do this? not, <em>could</em> we do this?</p> <p>And it’s these kind of grey area behaviours that I want to protect against in the research sector.</p> <p>As researchers, we are driven by a thirst for knowledge, to understand the <em>what if </em>or<em> the how </em>….</p> <p>We are seeking to make a difference through our work.</p> <p>But we can’t ignore that there are many incentives pushing researchers to cut corners and lower their standards.</p> <p>The competition for funding is fierce and is increasing every day.</p> <p>The temptation to judge a researcher’s performance through simple metrics is strong. You know the ones I’m talking about.</p> <p>These metrics are incentives and they are incentives that drive behaviour, not all of it good.</p> <p>We all know of instances of poor research practice.</p> <p>Selective publication of results to support a hypothesis.</p> <p>HARKing: hypothesising after the results are <strong>k</strong>nown.</p> <p>Manipulating data and research methods to achieve statistical significance, colloquially known as p-hacking, data dredging, or my personal favourite, torturing the data until it screams.</p> <p>And apologies to those out there who are competing, but no single field has the monopoly on poor research practices.</p> <p>Take economics, a field relevant to the Royal Commission. In 2015 the USFederal Reserve analysed 67 economics papers published in reputable academic journals.</p> <p>Only a third of the findings could be independently replicated.</p> <p>Your minds might immediately jump to fraud, but thankfully that is still rare. My focus is on reducing the level of flawed research that even though it is poor quality, is still being rewarded.</p> <p>If we can focus on improving the quality of research in general, we can achieve broad and long-lasting benefits.</p> <p>And I think the best way to do this is to look at the incentives.</p> <p>We all know that publication is a principal criterion for scientific career advancement. And I don’t want to change that.</p> <p>However, the institutionalisation of performance metrics has created incentives for researchers to publish as many papers as possible.</p> <p>When you think about it, it’s quite similar to the mortgage broker’s incentive model.</p> <p>Getting research published has, in some cases, become more important than getting the science right.</p> <p>I am of the firm belief that there shouldn’t be an incentive for a researcher to salami slice their results into three or four separate publications, rather than one meaningful publication.</p> <p>If the purpose of publication is to share your results in a way that can be built on by other researchers, this kind of practice completely defeats that purpose.</p> <p>One model that places the focus on quality over quantity is the <strong>Rule of Five. </strong></p> <p>With the Rule of Five, a researcher’s performance for grant funding or promotion is judged on their best five publications over a five year period, accompanied by a description of its impact and the researcher’s individual contribution.</p> <p>The exact number of publications or years that institutions opt to consider isn’t important. On both counts, it could be anything up to ten. As long as it is small.</p> <p>And of course, there are disciplinary differences that may need to be taken into account.</p> <p>But what matters is the emphasis on the significance of the research.</p> <p>Australia’s granting agencies have already taken concrete steps to broaden their assessment of research performance. But their use of the Rule of Five is not yet comprehensive.</p> <p>Instituting the Rule of Five as a requirement across the grant funding system would have a transformative effect.</p> <p>Starting as a splash in the granting agencies, it will ripple through to appointment and promotion processes.</p> <p>We need to put in place visible changes if we are to convince researchers that their performance will be assessed on research quality and a deeper view of its impact.</p> <p>It requires a cultural change at all levels, and that leads us to the next issue: training.</p> <p>Unlike other professions, there are no national competencies and no national recognition of research integrity education and training.</p> <p>And while you may think scientists don’t need this kind of training, be aware that the bad behaviour pointed out by the Royal Commission was being perpetrated by financial advisors without any accredited training.</p> <p>Now, while many institutions in Australia do provide training programs for their PhD students, these programs vary in quality, content and reach.</p> <p>And, to the best of my knowledge, no Australian institutions have a training requirement for their existing research workforce.</p> <p>I strongly believe that the overall quality of research in Australia would be strengthened by research integrity training for all researchers.</p> <p>Training puts a spotlight on expectations for the whole community and encourages consistent behaviour.</p> <p>It also removes that old chestnut of plausible deniability.</p> <p>“Honest”, officer, “I didn’t know it was wrong!”</p> <p>The training must be accredited, and must be high-quality. It should not be a tick the box exercise.</p> <p>I am not saying it should be compulsory across the individual institutions. But I am saying that it is important. And if we circle back to incentives, the best way to encourage researchers to undertake the training is to tie it to grant funding.</p> <p>What I am proposing is that you should not be able to be a named investigator on a grant application unless you can prove you have completed accredited research integrity training.</p> <p>“It’s too hard” I keep hearing. Well, to those naysayers who say it will never happen, let me tell you that it already has. The Irish Health Research Board has recently implemented such a scheme. Every named researcher must undertake accredited research integrity training within six months of being awarded a grant.</p> <p>Making proof of training a requirement for obtaining a grant will again have a ripple through effect and embed the expectation of what is or is not acceptable.</p> <p>Finally, I am concerned that the incentives in the research system are not just driving bad behaviour for researchers, but are also creating a market for criminals to enter scholarly publishing.</p> <p>What is motivating the crooks is the pay per page system that has come with the introduction of open access publishing.</p> <p>Now, open access publishing has many benefits, as we all know, and I support the move to open access publishing. But I remain concerned that it has opened the door for predatory, evil, crooked journals.</p> <p>It is just too easy to set up a journal and a website with a 'high-falutin’ title, and appropriate the biographies of leading researchers for the editorial board – without their knowledge or permission.</p> <p>Before you know it, huge numbers of papers are being published without any rigour.</p> <p>And there are researchers who are knowingly paying to publish in journals that have no peer review, even though they claim to. Journals that have no ethics. Not even an editorial team to consider the submitted paper.</p> <p>That is worth repeating. There are researchers paying to publish in journals that have no peer review, no ethics, no editorial team. These researchers might just be naïve, but we have to acknowledge that the current incentives reward this behaviour.</p> <p>While this is not a major problem in Australia, emerging research nations are really struggling with this. In India, for example, a regulation introduced by their University Grants Commission in 2013 requires postgraduate students to publish two research papers to receive a PhD.</p> <p>This regulation, although well intended, has led to corruption. Thousands of students desperate for publications have become easy prey for the predatory journals.</p> <p>In my conversations with senior research leaders around the world, they are looking for ways to improve performance metrics in a way that does not drive their researchers to these predatory journals.</p> <p>My proposal is a rigorous quality assurance system. It is designed to inform stakeholders that a particular journal’s processes for assessing a paper meets agreed publishing standards.</p> <p>I like to call it Publication Process Quality Assurance, or PPQA.</p> <p>Compliance with PPQA would indicate to researchers, research institutions, libraries and granting agencies that the journal follows internationally accepted guidelines for the publication process.</p> <p>Now, I want to be absolutely clear: PPQA is not akin to a journal impact factor.</p> <p>It is also not a statement on the quality of the published research itself.</p> <p>It’s about ensuring that the journal adheres to agreed publishing standards.</p> <p>The standards could be modelled on existing guidelines developed by organisations such as the Committee on Publication Ethics.</p> <p>Journal compliance with the standards would be externally assessed, and a central list of compliant journals would be made available.</p> <p>“What’s that going to cost?” I can hear you all ask.</p> <p>Personally, I think it would be worth bearing the cost … but it’s also possible to use existing processes that may dramatically limit the extra burden.</p> <p>For example, we could use a commercial indexing service, such as the Web of Science Core Collection. In my conversations with the operator, Clarivate Analytics, I have been impressed with the rigour of their journal selection process – focussed on agreed standards, not citation impact.</p> <p>Of course, there are potential issues with using a commercial provider, but they could be overcome. We already use Clarivate Analytics for the citation information for the ARC’s Excellence in Research for Australia assessment.</p> <p>Extensive as it is, the Web of Science Core Collection does not yet include all of the journals that meet the agreed standards, but that can be built on over time.</p> <p>I’ll be continuing to have conversations with granting agencies in Australia and around the world on how to <em>destroy</em> the business model of predatory publishers.</p> <p>Why am I focused on granting agencies? Because granting agencies are best placed to provide the incentive for researchers to only publish in PPQA compliant journals by enforcing it through their grant application process.</p> <p>You might have picked up by now a common thread; that in each of my three recommendations, I am looking to take the responsibility back to the granting agencies. It’s a concept referred to by others as “follow the money”.</p> <p>If the granting agencies put in place these measures, they will ripple through into the research institutions.</p> <p>Adopting all three proposals together, the Rule of Five, widespread integrity training and the PPQA, would mitigate the ongoing risks of poor quality research.</p> <p>As a bonus, these measures would result in fewer total publications because researchers will be focusing on the quality of outcomes, rather than quantity.</p> <p>There would therefore be less pressure on peer reviewers because the pipeline would be less clogged. They could actually take more time to properly review the papers before them.</p> <p>It will change the culture and restore for the 21<sup>st</sup> century research workforce, last century’s academic rigour.</p> <p>And, as is the engineering way, we can continue to look at and improve how the incentives drive the best research practice.</p> <p>It might make it tough for best practice groups such as yourselves, working in the Doherty Institute, if the rest of the world comes up to scratch, competing with you to make the next Nobel-winning discovery.</p> <p>But I am sure you will agree it would be worth it.</p> <p>I am delighted to be with you today – such an extraordinary institution with such exemplary researchers. I imagine that your discovery capacity is unbounded, so, if you come up with a no-risk recipe for the elixir of youth, with reproducible results, I look forward to being here for your 50th anniversary.</p> <p>Please, invite me back to celebrate!</p> <p>May the Force be with you.</p> <p>Thank you!</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/news/speeches" hreflang="en">Speeches</a></li> </ul> </div> Tue, 17 Sep 2019 00:00:00 +0000 Anonymous 855 at https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au Speech: Launch of Harnessing Our Innovation Potential Report https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/2019/09/speech-launch-of-harnessing-our-innovation-potential-report <h1 class="au-header-heading">Speech: Launch of Harnessing Our Innovation Potential Report</h1> <span><span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Anonymous (not verified)</span></span> <span>Tue, 2019-09-10 10:00</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>“One thing we know for sure is that social change is not achieved without effort.”</p> <p>Dr Finkel spoke at the launch of the Harnessing our Innovation Potential Report by the Male Champions of Change organisation in Sydney on Wednesday 28 August 2019.</p> <p>The full speech is available below, or can be downloaded as a <a href="/sites/default/files/Harnessing-our-Innovation-Potential.pdf">PDF</a>.</p> <p>********</p> <p>In preparation for this event, and in listening to the speakers today, I’ve been reflecting on what it means to be a Male Champion of Change.</p> <p>Let’s start with the word “champion”.</p> <p>Ask most young people and they will tell you its meaning is that of a winner, someone on top of the pile.</p> <p>But the word itself has a French derivation, from about the 13<sup>th</sup> Century, and it originally meant one who fights on behalf of others, undertaking to defend a cause.</p> <p>And this is the definition that has meaning to me in the context of being a Male Champion of Change.</p> <p>We need champions to defend the cause of gender equality.</p> <p>Now, one can be very pragmatic, and point to the evidence that shows that gender equality and broader diversity in the workforce improve innovation outcomes, ultimately leading to increased prosperity.</p> <p>But to me, the most important reason of all to be a champion for change is that I want to live in a society in which fairness is an overarching principle. Valuing diversity, and providing equal opportunities and rewards, is the foundation of fairness in society.</p> <p>Continuing on, I find myself considering the next key word in the title Male Champions of Change. What is <em>change</em>?</p> <p>Specifically, what do we know about social change?</p> <p>Well, one thing we know for sure is that social change is not achieved without effort. Think of the work of Charles Dickens and his stories of poverty in Victorian England. What <em>he </em>did, and this is what the <em>Harnessing our Innovation Potential </em>report does, is shine a light on the areas that need our effort.</p> <p>In my capacity as Australia’s Chief Scientist, I can shine a light on the need to ensure that everyone who wants to work in science, irrespective of gender or background, is supported to do so. It’s perplexing to me that people are not paid equally for the work they do; it’s concerning to me that this report has data that says the best people are not always being promoted.</p> <p>Now, I acknowledge that there has been significant progress over the decades, but we are not yet where we need to be. I know this not only from the report we’ve been discussing today, but also from the work that has been done in my office to produce the second edition of the STEM Workforce report.</p> <p>This report – not yet released– highlights some areas where we’ve made improvements, such as the female university-STEM-qualified labour force growing faster than the male.</p> <p>However, the report also shows areas where more change is needed. One particular concern relates to women who are also part of a minority – for example women with caring responsibilities or women born overseas. The unemployment rate for university-STEM-qualified women born in Australia is about 3.3%. For women born overseas with similar qualifications but only recently arrived in Australia, it is a worrisome 14%.</p> <p>What does this tell me? When we consider how we can achieve our goals, we need to make sure they are for all women – for example: women with primary caring responsibility, for recent immigrants, and for Indigenous women.</p> <p>The best way to achieve a goal is to have high aspirations and work towards them. Male Champions of Change for STEM encourages that.</p> <p>High aspirations are possible when others believe in you, and then that belief is assimilated and becomes part of your <em>own </em>world view.</p> <p>I saw the value of high aspirations recently when I participated in the Graeme Clark Oration Women in STEM luncheon.</p> <p>There were three other speeches from three eminent women scientists who had started successful businesses. They were Dr Michelle Perugini, Professor Mimi Tang, and Dr Tanya Brown. They talked about their own businesses: getting started, raising money, scaling up. It was clear that they made a <em>perfect pitch </em>when they presented their ideas and their personal capabilities to their investors.</p> <p>The point of commonality was their perception of themselves. They all had high aspirations. They believed they could do it, so they did it.</p> <p>For women to believe it, women need to see it, and this was a key insight from the report we’re launching today.</p> <p>We’re starting to see it in sport – soccer, cricket, football, tennis. We are also seeing the growth of aspirations and achievement of women in STEM. But there is a considerable way to go and we need to accelerate this change.</p> <p>We’ve heard a lot about the <em>Harnessing our Innovation Potential </em>report already but let me close with some additional observations.</p> <p>Whether you should ignore or respond to a survey should not be determined by whether you agree or disagree with the majority opinion. It should depend on the robustness of the methodology. This report has the decency to publish its own methodology and it is clear that it is robust.</p> <p>Key to its strength is that it has a large number of respondents, with a good spread across organisational sectors and a high level of male respondents.</p> <p>This report plays a critical role in the change environment: it provides data – an evidence base.</p> <p>Why do we need data? Data transforms unconscious bias into the stark reality of conscious bias, which then means we can be <em>consciously un-biased</em>.</p> <p>There is a saying that “the standard you walk by is the standard you accept.”</p> <p>The standard we accept will be unshakeable if it is informed by data.</p> <p>We can take action to interrupt the intergenerational cycle, across all sectors of industry.</p> <p>We can support the work of Lisa Harvey-Smith in her important task as Australia’s Women in STEM Ambassador.</p> <p>And we must continue to listen to the experiences of women, and people from diverse backgrounds, and hear and act on what they tell us, so that we can ensure through <em>our </em>future actions that they remain involved and engaged in science.</p> <p>I encourage my co-champions to continue to query those man-panel invites, and respond by suggesting diverse speakers for events, to continue to make changes within your own workplaces, and be a champion in that historical sense of the word: fight the good fight on behalf of others, to achieve change.</p> <p>And from the inside, as a Male Champion of Change in STEM, I would like to acknowledge the change efforts that my colleagues are leading in their companies. Many are here today.</p> <p>At the Male Champion of Change Board meetings and in between I get to see the incredible leadership of Ann Sherry and the excellence of the work performed by Somali Cerise. And in head office, the CEO Annika Freyer.</p> <p>Finally, to Bob Easton, Katie Brown, Luke Higgins, Pamela Naidoo-Ameglio and Tony Worby, the insights provided by you today will give the proverbial can another kick along the road to a better future.</p> <p>May the Force be with you.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/news/speeches" hreflang="en">Speeches</a></li> </ul> </div> Tue, 10 Sep 2019 00:00:00 +0000 Anonymous 697 at https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au Speech: Renewing the signals, restoring the continuum https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/2019/07/speech-renewing-the-signals-restoring-the-continuum <h1 class="au-header-heading">Speech: Renewing the signals, restoring the continuum</h1> <span><span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Anonymous (not verified)</span></span> <span>Fri, 2019-07-12 10:00</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>“Mathematics encourages logical thought; it allows for the laying out of a problem and working through solutions; it trains you to make deductions from the learned assumptions of those who have gone before; and it encourages you to apply your knowledge to a wider world view. It’s a bit like being a Jedi master.”</p> <p>Dr Finkel gave the opening keynote address at the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers 2019 National Conference in Brisbane on Thursday11 July 2019.</p> <p>The full speech is available below, or can be downloaded as a <a href="/sites/default/files/Australian-Association-of-Mathematics-Teachers-2019.pdf">PDF</a>.</p> <p>********************************************************************************************************************************************</p> <p>Since this is the closing session of a mathematics conference, I’m going to start with a mathematics problem.</p> <p>Pencils ready? Here is it – and I’ve been nice, it’s multiple choice.</p> <p><em>In the time it takes an unfit runner to cover </em><em>60 paces, a fit runner can go 100 paces. The unfit runner has covered a distance of 100 paces before the fit runner sets off in pursuit. How many paces does it take the fit runner before she catches up to the unfit runner?</em></p> <ol> <li>150</li> <li>160</li> <li>250</li> <li>260</li> </ol> <p>Now I’m going to make a confession: I didn’t write that problem.</p> <p>It’s from an ancient Chinese text-book that dates back to at least 200 BC, and possibly centuries before.<a href="#_ftn1">[1]</a></p> <p>It’s called <em>The Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art</em>, and it’s a collection of 246 problems demonstrating the practical applications of mathematics to ancient Chinese life.</p> <p>What could you do with mathematics in ancient China?</p> <p>Well, in ancient China there are problems on calculating distances.</p> <p>There are problems on trading commodities like millet and rice.</p> <p>There are problems on collecting the right amount of tax.</p> <p>There are problems on building canals, and ditches, and dams.</p> <p>There are problems on predicting farm yields.</p> <p>So, the answer to “why mathematics” in ancient China was “because <em>without </em>mathematics our civilisation will collapse”.</p> <p>And the message to young scholars was clear. If you wanted to climb up the rungs of society by getting an education and joining the civil service, then this was content you absolutely needed to know.</p> <p>Now this insight was not unique to ancient China.</p> <p>Mathematics has been part of the curriculum for at least four thousand years.</p> <p>Let’s journey back in time to the first known complex civilisation, ancient Sumer, where writing was first developed.<a href="#_ftn2">[2]</a></p> <p>In ancient Sumer there was an elite class of high-skill workers: the scribes.</p> <p>Scribe school would start with the Sumerian alphabet. Then they’d have to memorise the sign combinations for hundreds and hundreds of words. Next was simple arithmetic, metrology, algebra, geometry and some trigonometry. With that under their belts, they’d move on to accounting, and contract-writing, and law.</p> <p>Why mathematics in Ancient Sumer?</p> <p>Again, “because <em>without</em> mathematics our civilisation will collapse”. And civilisation ticked along all the way to ancient Greece, and a person you might have heard of, named Plato.</p> <p>At roughly the same time as <em>The Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art </em>was coming together in China, Plato was also educating Athenians in the importance of mathematics.</p> <p>In his classic work <em>The Republic</em>, he sets out very clearly what an ideal education would look like.<a href="#_ftn3">[3]</a></p> <p>Language and literature.</p> <p>Physical education.</p> <p>A bit of military training.</p> <p>And TEN YEARS of mathematics.</p> <p>Mathematics was so important to Plato that he made it a pre-requisite for entering his Academy.</p> <p>He had it engraved on a plaque by the door.</p> <p><em>“Let no-one ignorant of geometry enter here.”</em></p> <p>Which I interpret to mean a requirement for at <em>least</em> intermediate mathematics, with a preference for advanced.</p> <p>Don’t tell me Plato wouldn’t have required calculus if it had been invented. <em>Of course</em> he would have insisted on calculus. Case closed.</p> <p>Skip forward 1500 years.</p> <p>The great universities of medieval Europe are born.</p> <p>And they look back at what worked in ancient times, and they come up with a three-part structure for the academic curriculum.<a href="#_ftn4">[4]</a></p> <p>First, the trivium: three years of grammar, rhetoric and logic.</p> <p>Second, the quadrivium: four years of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music.</p> <p>Third, an optional doctorate: in theology, philosophy, medicine or law.</p> <p>The point is that you don’t get to be a master or a doctor of <em>anything</em> unless you study mathematics.</p> <p>So, there’s nothing original about the message I’m here to give today: that mathematics is important, and it has to be a priority.</p> <p>The answer to the question “why mathematics” has been obvious for five thousand years.</p> <p>But again and again, we seem to forget.</p> <p>So today I want to reiterate what I mean when I say that the priority has to be mathematics.</p> <p>I want to talk about the factors that discourage students from taking mathematics at the level of their real ability in their senior years.</p> <p>I want to talk about the consequences for students who miss out on the mathematics foundations that they ought to be building in school.</p> <p>And I want to talk about what we can do to make inroads on what we all acknowledge to be an entrenched cycle that sets up far too many students for disappointment.</p> <p>Now, as you are a captive audience, and one with a vested interest in the topic, I am happy to give you my answer to your question, “why mathematics”?</p> <p>Well, in my view, it’s not just about mathematics – but I will get to it.</p> <p>Students need in their muscle memory four key things:</p> <p>Most important of all is mastery of, in the context of our community, the English language; the language of discourse, to empower them to discuss politics and philosophy, to read Shakespeare, Charlotte Bronte, Ursula le Guin, and Tim Winton.</p> <p>It must resonate in their minds to support the development of core communication skills and give them the ability to express themselves with confidence and with reference to history and culture.</p> <p>To quote Dr Seuss, “Sometimes you will never know the value of something, until it becomes a memory.”</p> <p>And then they will, of course, also need Mathematics, the language of science.</p> <p>It’s a common comment from students, and their parents and carers, “Why do I have to learn algebra?</p> <p>Or “Why do I have to be able to estimate weight and distance?”</p> <p>But when they are learning to drive and need to estimate speeds on the road, or work out the angle of a car park, or estimate the weight of goods, or build a house – or more importantly, pay someone else to build their house – the value of these skills and knowledge will hit them, hard. Or at least a light bulb will go on.</p> <p>And well-developed basic mathematical skills become the key for students who <em>do</em> want to explore mathematics further, as a necessary skill for future studies in fields such as science and economics.</p> <p>In addition to English and mathematics, we also need Sport, the language of the body. The Greek philosopher Thales had it right – a sound mind is a sound body.</p> <p>And Music, the language of emotion, a vehicle to express yourself without words. A divine skill. I often wish I had gone down that path …</p> <p>What do English, mathematics, music and sport have in common? To be good at them you need muscle memory, which comes from learning and practicing, learning and practicing, year upon year upon year.</p> <p>Whatever path a student chooses, laying down the core skills of the discipline is vital.</p> <p>So, if we all agree that mathematics is important – and I am sure that everyone here does – why are fewer students choosing to study it at intermediate and advanced levels?</p> <p>Many of you may be aware of the work of my Office is doing, along with the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute and others – to better understand the reasons for the drop off in numbers of students choosing to study mathematics at every level, and in particular at senior secondary school.</p> <p>We know the issues are complex, including a perception that with computers and smartphones, mathematics is no longer needed!</p> <p>We know that there are a wide range of factors that influence students’ subject choices, and their performance. Parents and friends play a huge role, but teachers have the greatest in-school influence.</p> <p>For mathematics in particular, there are a number of motivating – or demotivating – factors including: how it’s being taught; the capacity of the teacher to teach the subject; and whether there are other more attractive options for students to increase their ATAR.</p> <p>We know that the majority of students select their courses with an eye to a single number: the ATAR required to get into a particular course. And rightly or wrongly, they absorb the message that the way to boost their ATAR is to drop down a level of mathematics.</p> <p>Linked to this is the school yard chatter that goes on in years 9 and 10 – although these days it also happens online. The messages get confused, and inevitably end up being misunderstood by the year 10 students who are trying to decide their best option for subject choices in senior high school.</p> <p>They are told, and the university course guides confirm through omission, that the higher their ATAR, the best chance they have of getting into their chosen course at university.</p> <p>But what happens if they attain the necessary ATAR for admission to a university course, but are not competent in the subject content to do <em>well</em> at university, often because they haven’t stuck with mathematics?</p> <p>In the past, universities made it clear the subjects that students should study to be prepared for the range of undergraduate courses into which they might want to enrol.</p> <p>Today, with some exceptions, Australian universities have removed or softened course entry requirements. This trend can be traced back to the 1990s, but it appears to have accelerated with the massification of higher education and the uncapping of places.</p> <p>In the absence of prerequisites and clear signals of what is required to succeed in a course, the ATAR has been given more prominence than was intended. It is now used as a catch-all representation of student achievement, which it was never meant to be.</p> <p>The ATAR was originally designed to coexist alongside clear expectations and signals from universities about subject choice. Without these signals, the pressure to study subjects that are seen to maximise your ATAR score has increased.</p> <p>So while an ATAR score may allow students entry to a course, without a sound understanding of core content, students scrape through, or fail, or drop out. With all the consequences.</p> <p>A few weeks the Productivity Commission released a report on <em>“The Demand Driven University System”</em>. It contains some fascinating information on the outcomes of the recent policy changes’ impact on under-represented equity groups</p> <p>It notes that there has been success in achieving an increase in the number of students attending university and improving equity of access. However, many students are ill prepared when they enter university and they struggle academically. These students are less likely to complete their studies.</p> <p>While university attendance increased substantially under the demand driven system, growth among equity groups has been uneven.</p> <p>So with this trend of unpreparedness among a range of students, what changes can be made to try to address some of these issues?</p> <p>Firstly, like all drive for change, there needs to be leadership in addressing the problems.</p> <p>Our universities need to indicate clearly to students what subjects are <em>required </em>to do well in a given course, and reinstate the expectation of studying mathematics at intermediate or advanced levels, particularly for entry into mathematics-based courses such as physics and engineering, and all of the general science courses, as well as other disciplines that depend on mathematics, such as economics, commerce and architecture.</p> <p>And medicine. Call me nervous, but I like to think that my treating physician is competent at mathematics.</p> <p>Those expectations need to be communicated to all stakeholders – students, principals, careers advisors, teachers, parents …and those online influencers.</p> <p>Universities need to work together to develop an approach and communicate expectations clearly and consistently in language that is easily understood.</p> <p>In the United Kingdom, the Russell Group is a grouping of 24 universities from around the country. It publishes a printed guide designed to explain to students 14 years and older the specific subjects that are needed in secondary school to gain entry to undergraduate courses in those universities.</p> <p>It includes a list of eight core or 'facilitating’ subjects that, in addition to English, are more frequently required for entry to undergraduate courses than other subjects. These are: mathematics, English literature, physics, biology, chemistry, geography, history and languages. Students are advised that including a selection of facilitating subjects at the advanced level will open up a wider range of degree choices.</p> <p>In May 2019, the Russell Group’s Informed Choices guide was re-launched as an online interactive guide. Students can see which subjects are recommended for specific degrees, and also test combinations of school subjects to see which degree paths they open up. According to the Russell Group, the renewed guidance 'is particularly targeted towards supporting less advantaged pupils’ who may not have access to high quality advice elsewhere.</p> <p>Of course, there are other sources of information, but the beauty of Informed Choices is that it is not about how to play the system. Instead, it is about how to optimise one’s preparation for future studies without having to guess at the age of 15 what you might want to study at the age of 20, or work on at the age of 25.</p> <p>It is my hope that a modest number of thought leading universities will agree to develop an Australian Informed Choices.</p> <p>And I further hope most of those thought leading universities will make it clear to students through prerequisites that they need to study mathematics in school in order to enrol in courses that need mathematics.</p> <p>Mathematics is not a subject that you can pick up late in one’s academic career. The evidence that short bridging courses are effective is slim, the evidence that they are inadequate is much greater.</p> <p>I would like to complete my remarks on this note. Learning mathematics offers the student core foundational skills for success.</p> <p>Until universities step up to the plate and send a clear signal to students that if they want to keep their options open they should study intermediate or advanced mathematics in school it is left to principals and teachers to encourage their students.</p> <p>Mathematics at upper secondary school does not have to be compulsory – but it ought to be compelling.</p> <p>Compelling by offering lessons set in a real-world context.</p> <p>Compelling by telling contemporary success stories, such as Jim Simons, who I met briefly last week. He’s an American mathematics professor who contributed to the mathematics of string theory and quantum field theory, then in the 1980s decided to apply his mathematics skills to financial trading. He used mathematics to make money, and built his net worth to nearly thirty billion dollars.</p> <p>Jim Simons, like you, would have worked out in a heartbeat the answer to that ancient Chinese problem that I posed at the beginning of my speech.</p> <p>The answer is C – 250 paces.</p> <p>Mathematics encourages logical thought; it allows for the laying out of a problem and working through solutions; it trains you to make deductions from the learned assumptions of those who have gone before; and it encourages you to apply your knowledge to a wider world view.</p> <p>It’s a bit like being a Jedi master.</p> <p>May the Force be with you.</p> <p>Thank you</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/news/speeches" hreflang="en">Speeches</a></li> </ul> </div> Fri, 12 Jul 2019 00:00:00 +0000 Anonymous 698 at https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au Speech: Actions to advance research integrity https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/2019/06/speech-actions-to-advance-research-integrity <h1 class="au-header-heading">Speech: Actions to advance research integrity</h1> <span><span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Anonymous (not verified)</span></span> <span>Mon, 2019-06-03 10:00</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>“The basic structure of peer review is the best we’ve ever invented. But it is showing signs of strain.”</p> <p>Dr Finkel gave the opening keynote address at the 6th World Conference on Research Integrity in Hong Kong on Sunday 2 June 2019.</p> <p>The full speech is available below, or can be downloaded as a <a href="/sites/default/files/World-Conference-on-Research-Integrity-FINAL.pdf">PDF</a>.</p> <p>*************************</p> <p>Looking around the room today, I’m reminded that research truly is a human pursuit: it thrives on face-to-face connections.</p> <p>It’s easy to forget that, when you’re a student, and it’s late at night, and you’re the last person left in the lab – again.</p> <p>So, every so often, it’s worth pausing to remember just how many people are out there, working hard, gathering data – just like you.</p> <p>Worldwide, there are more than eight million researchers.</p> <p>Every year, we produce well over a quarter of a million new PhDs.</p> <p>China alone has added more than a million people to its research workforce since 2011.</p> <p>Not all of these researchers will work in academia – but those who do are highly productive.</p> <p>They publish in the order of four million academic journal articles every year, spread across more than 40,000 journals.</p> <p>And all of that traffic is routed through a single critical bridge. <em>The publication process</em>.</p> <p>Picture that bridge.</p> <p>We know it so well. It’s stood there for centuries. And in that time, it’s developed from a simple footbridge – with a handful of pedestrians – into a triple-decker multi-lane high-speed monster freeway.</p> <p>It’s still fundamentally sound. The basic structure of peer review is the best we’ve ever invented. Every day, I see trucks on that bridge carrying outcomes that even Einstein thought would never arrive.</p> <p>The detection of gravitational waves.</p> <p>Devices that can translate brain signals into speech.</p> <p>Atomic clocks that can mark a second with precision in the parts per quintillion.</p> <p>This great bridge that holds up civilisation has served us well. It is not about to collapse.</p> <p>But it is showing signs of strain.</p> <p>Start with the fact that there are now more than 20,000 retracted papers in the Retraction Watch database.</p> <p>Does that catch 50% of the times that the quality assurance process failed? 10% of the times? We can’t say. But we know enough to be concerned.</p> <p>There was the 2015 analysis, conducted by the US Federal Reserve, of 67 economics papers published in reputable academic journals.</p> <p>Only a third of the findings could be independently replicated.</p> <p>There was the 2018 analysis of 100 psychology papers, also published in reputable journals.</p> <p>Only 2 in 5 could be independently replicated, at the level of significant results.</p> <p>There was the 2015 survey of about 400 statisticians on their interactions with collaborating researchers.</p> <p>Almost half had been asked to report results before the data had been cleaned and validated.</p> <p>A quarter had been asked to remove some of the data.</p> <p>More than ten had been explicitly directed to falsify the statistical significance; some of them, on more than ten occasions.</p> <p>Whatever your field, you’ll have your own examples.</p> <p>Put them together, and we have more than enough evidence to conclude that we cannot write off these lapses as the occasional bit of bad driving.</p> <p>The evidence says: we haven’t built the optimal bridge.</p> <p>The people who pay for the petrol and rely on the safe delivery of the cargo – the taxpayers and governments – are no longer prepared to take us on trust.</p> <p>They want actions to shore up the bridge.</p> <p>So we are gathered at this conference to be the civil engineers.</p> <p>***</p> <p>Now I’m an engineer by training.</p> <p>I am also Australia’s Chief Scientist.</p> <p>And in that capacity I wanted to understand what we could do to strengthen the bridge.</p> <p>I acknowledge, it’s an enormous topic – I can’t even list all of its dimensions, let alone disentangle them.</p> <p>My focus was practical: what we could do to make a material difference, with a focus on the overarching framework from which other important measures could flow.</p> <p>So in October last year, I organised a workshop on research quality and the publication process in my office in Canberra.</p> <p>We invited the editor of the Springer-Nature group, Sir Phillip Campbell, along with the heads of our research funding agencies, leaders of our research institutions, and experts in the field of publications.</p> <p>The full list of names is available on my office website, along with a subsequent article that I published in Nature.</p> <p>I want to share with you today some of the practical measures we considered, and how we are pursuing some of them at the national level in Australia.</p> <p>Then, I want to turn to the global infrastructure we would need to consider if we’re going to standardise good practices across the world.</p> <p>And in the spirit of fair attribution, let me note that my reflections today are informed by our workshop, but the recommendations are my own.</p> <p>***</p> <p>So, let me start as our workshop did, and as all engineers are trained to do: defining the problem.</p> <p>The publication bridge is fundamentally sound and it’s critical to keep it open.</p> <p><em>But quality assurance is weakening.</em></p> <p>We’ve got trucks arriving with rotten cargo that has to be retracted.</p> <p>Sometimes – but not that often – we’ve got trucks arriving with contraband cargo and forged transit documents.</p> <p>We’ve got trucks arriving with useless cargo that nobody wants to purchase.</p> <p>And we’ve got drivers speeding madly to make as many trips as possible.</p> <p>The traffic backs up at the toll gates, because the good peer reviewers are overloaded.</p> <p>We’ve got smugglers – predatory publishers – dodging the toll gates entirely.</p> <p>And we’re got increasingly frustrated researchers looking for alternatives, jumping off the bridge and into the wild waters of open science below.</p> <p>We talk constantly about these problems – and still, they remain.</p> <p>All of the participants in our workshop agreed: there are many thought-leadership organisations; there are excellent and widely acknowledged guidelines; but that’s not enough <em>when the incentives in the system run the opposite way</em>.</p> <p>We know from the mining sector: if the safety incentives are set correctly, the safety record dramatically improves.</p> <p>We know the opposite from the finance and banking sectors: if the incentives are set incorrectly, appalling practices prevail.</p> <p>It’s exactly the same in research. It doesn’t matter how many times we say we want quality-over-quantity in <em>theory</em>, if we keep rewarding quantity in <em>practice</em>.</p> <p>We’ve all got to take responsibility for bringing the theory and the practice into line.</p> <p>***</p> <p>Let’s look first at the people directing the trucks and the drivers – our research institutions.</p> <p>For centuries, we’ve relied on an apprenticeship model of training – just like the way we used to teach our teenagers to drive. Put them in the car with an experienced driver.</p> <p>That made sense in a world where senior researchers were publishing less frequently and had the time to give to perhaps a handful of students.</p> <p>It’s reckless in a world where there’s much less time to give, and many more students wanting to share it.</p> <p>Even in my day, forty years ago, the pressures were showing.</p> <p>My PhD supervisor, Steve Redman, sat firmly in the school of quality. He averaged about two papers a year. He expected a lot of his students, but he was generous with his time.</p> <p>I realise now just how hard it must have been for Steve to stick to his principles.</p> <p>As if in confirmation, two months ago, I received an email from one of Steve’s contemporaries, recalling that every time he sat on a panel assessing Steve, the beauty of Steve’s papers was lost in the clamour about his production rate.</p> <p>That was a senior researcher, an acknowledged superstar, conducting research of the highest quality, with undeniable impact, decades in the past… under constant pressure to accelerate.</p> <p>Let’s just think about the intensity of that pressure on a PhD student and a research supervisor today.</p> <p>How much is that student really going to learn from that supervisor by osmosis?</p> <p>A far more reliable mechanism is explicit instruction: structured, formal teaching in research integrity and professional expectations.</p> <p>Research institutions should make that instruction mandatory, not just in student training programs, but for every one of their existing researchers.</p> <p>And if we’re going to put the time into training, then we should have agreed minimum standards for the modules.</p> <p>As a starting point, accredited research integrity courses should probably cover the material from the Singapore Statement and the Montreal Statement issued after the 2nd and 3rd World Conferences on Research Integrity.</p> <p>At the same time, we shouldn’t expect mentors to be good mentors by instinct. Their institutions should <em>train</em> them in good mentorship, and make that training a condition for any post where they’re supervising staff.</p> <p>And instead of judging a senior researcher’s performance by the number of students on their books, we should ask for impact statements on, say, two of their former PhDs, at least one of them female: how they were mentored, and what they went on to achieve.</p> <p>That’s not the only change I’d like see in an academic CV.</p> <p>Think for a moment about how a so-called competitive CV looks today – pages and pages and pages of article and authorship credits. No reviewer has the time to evaluate those lists to gauge the quality, so quantity prevails.</p> <p>Imagine how it would look in a system that made <em>quality</em> the focus.</p> <p>We would opt for a model such as the Rule of Five.</p> <p>Candidates present their best five papers over the past five years, accompanied by a description of the research, its impact and their individual contribution.</p> <p>The exact number of years or papers that institutions opt to consider isn’t important. On both counts, it could be anything up to ten.</p> <p>What matters is the emphasis on the significance of the research – and the message it clearly sends.</p> <p>***</p> <p>How do you shift the behaviour in research institutions – hundreds if not thousands of institutions?</p> <p>There is a principle known as “follow the money”.</p> <p>And in this case, the money trail from research institutions leads straight back to the agencies that supply the grants.</p> <p>If we want to motivate change, at scale, then those national granting agencies are key.</p> <p>My recommendation is that for investigators to be funded by a national granting agency they should be required to prove that they have undertaken an accredited course in research integrity. Without that proof, the grant would fail to get through the first stage of administrative review.</p> <p>In addition, national granting agencies should evaluate investigators’ publication records from a Rule of Five perspective, with total publications and H-indices pushed to the background as secondary considerations.</p> <p>***</p> <p>Now I acknowledge that I am building on existing ideas. My ambition is for granting agencies to take the leadership role in supporting best quality research beyond the grant itself.</p> <p>One of those agencies is Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council, or NHMRC, led by Professor Anne Kelso.</p> <p>If my principle is “follow the money”, Professor Kelso’s is “use the power of the funder”. And do so thoughtfully, and deliberately, to keep the focus on quality, where it belongs.</p> <p>Already, we’ve seen some significant steps forward.</p> <p>The Rule of Five is now in place for some NHMRC grant schemes – and in future, it may well be extended.</p> <p>Further, for two of the major schemes, the <em>impact</em> of the investigator’s past research is now an explicit part of their track record assessment.</p> <p>Impact – be it on knowledge, on health, on the economy, or on the community – is judged on case studies. Not just numbers: explanations.</p> <p>This is the beginning of the NHMRC’s quality agenda – not the end.</p> <p>Professor Kelso is looking comprehensively at the NHMRC’s role in supporting high quality research through all of its processes: policies, guidelines, peer review, the lot.</p> <p>They will be working with research institutions to recognise and spread good practice.</p> <p>The expectation is clear: research institutions have to be more explicit in conveying the message to their research staff that quality counts.</p> <p>To verify the commitment, the NHMRC is calling for regular self-assessment by accountable leaders in research institutions, of their institutional policies and reforms.</p> <p>Another notable example is the Responsible Conduct of Research requirement in the United States.</p> <p>Major granting agencies, including the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, require every institution that applies for grants to provide appropriate research conduct training.</p> <p>However, at present, the requirement applies only to postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows involved in a project.</p> <p>My recommendation – to make grant funding conditional on every investigator providing proof they have completed a course in research integrity – goes further, in recognition of the fact that we aren’t just looking to support a new generation.</p> <p>We’re still playing catch-up with the generation before – as well as absorbing researchers from countries where the training isn’t required.</p> <p>There is some progress. For example, I learned this afternoon from the head of the Irish Health Research Board that they have recently implemented a strict requirement that every investigator be able to prove that they have completed a research integrity training course. And the Wellcome Trust is also implementing broad quality and integrity policies.</p> <p>***</p> <p>So, as we can see, there are pockets of progress.</p> <p>The bigger challenge remains: how can we scale up and standardise good practice, right across the globe?</p> <p>Today, we simply lack the systems for a collective approach.</p> <p>In particular, we lack real oversight of journals.</p> <p>We have seen some jurisdictions take action against the worst of the predatory publishers through fraud law.</p> <p>But the reach of those laws is limited.</p> <p>And the standard we want for journals isn’t – “not criminal”.</p> <p>It’s – “best practice”.</p> <p>Journals are not simply players in a knowledge market. They are knowledge custodians, with all the prestige and privilege that affords.</p> <p>We have to be united in our expectations: if journals are to retain their position as knowledge custodians then they have a responsibility to be more than scrupulous.</p> <p>They also have to be <em>accountable</em> and <em>transparent</em>.</p> <p>Where exactly a particular journal fits on the continuum between “criminal fraud” and “agreed best practice” is rarely clear.</p> <p>Of course, there are outliers at both ends – but there are tens of thousands of journals in the middle.</p> <p>That’s not good for the journals that do commit to best practice, because we’ve got very few ways to verify their claims.</p> <p>It is extremely good for the journals that <em>don’t</em> commit to best practice, because we’ve got very few ways to save junior researchers and journalists and even policy makers from being duped.</p> <p>To date, it’s fair to say that even reputable journals have not welcomed greater scrutiny.</p> <p>But scrutiny doesn’t have to come as an imposition.</p> <p>Let me give you an analogy from my time in industry.</p> <p>I was the founder and CEO of a company called Axon Instruments.</p> <p>We made research instruments, but we also made medical devices – including a product that inserted an electrode three inches deep into human brains during surgery to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.</p> <p>No-one would purchase that product unless they knew it was safe, so we undertook ISO 9000 certification. This international quality assurance program is like a superset of Good Manufacturing Practices – GMP – required to register products with the FDA in the United States.</p> <p>The ISO 9000 standards are extremely demanding.</p> <p>They apply to the company, the production process and the product itself.</p> <p>Compliance is verified by a combination of internal and external audits.</p> <p>To my surprise, I found that as a manufacturer, those standards became my best friend – because they told my customers that we were selling a trustworthy product.</p> <p>They also kept the market clear of low-quality producers who would first, steal my customers, and second, destroy the whole industry’s reputation.</p> <p>So imagine if we had something equivalent for the publication process. I’m calling it PPQA – Publication Process Quality Assurance.</p> <p>Compliance with PPQA would indicate to researchers, research institutions and granting agencies that the journal followed internationally accepted guidelines.</p> <p>And granting agencies would only consider research that has been published in a PPQA compliant journal when judging applications.</p> <p>Now I want to be absolutely clear: PPQA is <em>not</em> akin to an impact factor.</p> <p>What I’m talking about is quality assurance, to ensure that journals implement an agreed minimum standard for their publication processes.</p> <p>We could start with the guidelines developed by organisations like COPE – the Committee on Publication Ethics.</p> <p>Higher levels of PPQA could pick up on the Transparency and Open Promotion guidelines, known as the TOP guidelines, compiled by the Centre for Open Science, or the Reproducibility and Replicability in Science recommendations published this year by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine.</p> <p>These guidelines form a tremendous body of work, by deeply knowledgeable people, who have reflected on these issues for many years. Let’s use it.</p> <p>Who would audit and accredit that each journal title meets the standards?</p> <p>It could be an existing body like COPE, but they would need funding.</p> <p>It could be a new entity.</p> <p>Or, as happens with the ISO standards, it could be credentialed private companies.</p> <p>However the audit for accreditation is done, we would require a central global body to hold the list of successful journals, open for checking by granting agencies, institutions, journalists, venture capital funders, everyone.</p> <p>There would obviously be costs – so the inevitable question is “who should pay?”</p> <p>Turn the question around – “who has a reason to be invested?”</p> <p>Journals, for one. Granting agencies, for another. Large philanthropic bodies with an interest in high-quality research, for a third.</p> <p>Some provision would have to be made to ensure that small society journals are not overburdened by audit costs.</p> <p>All of these questions would require careful deliberation on the model, through discussions involving libraries, publishers, grant agencies and research institutions.</p> <p>And the agreed model that emerged would have to be tested through a pilot to see what works and what might go wrong.</p> <p>It can’t happen without global forums: global bodies with the networks and credibility to speak as the collective voice of science.</p> <p>The International Science Council would be an obvious candidate – as would the Global Research Council.</p> <p>But we should not continue and extend the good discussions of the past without a matching commitment to action.</p> <p>Since granting agencies provide the keystone research funding, they have the greatest capacity to push for a shift in behaviour. They should set a timetable for the deliberations.</p> <p>Finally, my recommendation to the granting agencies is that they should turn the results of the deliberations into actions by setting the date after which new papers can only be included in a grant application if they were published in a journal that is shown to comply with PPQA.</p> <p>***</p> <p>Now, as I acknowledged at the beginning, there are many issues wrapped up in research integrity– and we’ll have the opportunity to dive into them this week.</p> <p>But my focus today is on the practical, in the firm conviction that we have a system that is fundamentally sound – but can undoubtedly be improved.</p> <p>To recap, based on the principle of “follow the money”, these are my recommendations:</p> <p>One, granting agencies should make proof of research integrity training a requirement for applying for a grant, applicable to all investigators listed on the application.</p> <p>Two, granting agencies should require CV’s submitted for grant review to follow the Rule of Five, and</p> <p>Three, granting agencies should only consider new publications from journals that have proven their compliance with PPQA – Publication Process Quality Assurance.</p> <p>Ambitious, yes – but considering the stakes, I’d say a bit of ambition can be excused.</p> <p>***</p> <p>And I hope this is the spirit that we’ve all brought to this great global gathering today.</p> <p>Think of that bridge this week.</p> <p>It has served us well but it is creaking under the increased load and evolving driver behaviours.</p> <p>If it were a physical bridge, there’d be no question. We’d fix it.</p> <p>The research bridge is every bit as critical – because we make life and death decisions on the basis of the data that is trucked across.</p> <p>It’s soldered onto the neural circuits of every engineer: <em>there’s always a better way</em>.</p> <p>We can find that better way to do research.</p> <p><strong>THANK YOU</strong></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-news-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="position-above">Categories</div> <ul class="au-tags"> <li><a href="/news/speeches" hreflang="en">Speeches</a></li> </ul> </div> Mon, 03 Jun 2019 00:00:00 +0000 Anonymous 696 at https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au