Speeches https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/news/speeches en 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>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 thePeter Doherty Institute for Infection and ImmunityFifth 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><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> <p><a href="#_ftnref1">[1]</a> <a href="http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/HistTopics/Nine_chapters.html">http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/HistTopics/Nine_chapters.html</a></p> <p><a href="#_ftnref2">[2]</a> <a href="http://cdli.ox.ac.uk/wiki/doku.php?id=sumerian_school_texts">http://cdli.ox.ac.uk/wiki/doku.php?id=sumerian_school_texts</a></p> <p><a href="#_ftnref3">[3]</a> <a href="/sites/default/files/103p001.pdf">https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/pubs/proc/files/103p001.pdf</a></p> <p><a href="#_ftnref4">[4]</a> <a href="https://www.irishtimes.com/news/science/quadrivium-the-noble-fourfold-way-to-an-understanding-of-the-universe-1.3153793">https://www.irishtimes.com/news/science/quadrivium-the-noble-fourfold-way-to-an-understanding-of-the-universe-1.3153793</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> 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 Speech: STEM careers – a broad horizon https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/2019/05/speech-stem-careers-a-broad-horizon <h1 class="au-header-heading">Speech: STEM careers – a broad horizon</h1> <span><span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Anonymous (not verified)</span></span> <span>Thu, 2019-05-23 10:00</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>“The reality is, you may never work a day in your life in a particular profession – and still be getting value from your degree.”</p> <p>Dr Finkel addressed the In2science STEM Partnership programs forum in Melbourne on 22 May on the breadth of careers and possibilities enabled by a STEM degree – and the importance of communicating to students that a science degree is more than a path to a white coat.</p> <p>The full speech is available below, and also as a <a href="/sites/default/files/In2science-forum-speech.pdf">PDF</a>.</p> <p>Most of the time when I go out into the community to talk about science, people are very supportive.</p> <p>But occasionally, I’ll get to the end of my speech, someone will put up a hand, and they’ll ask me a variation of a question I’ve heard many times.</p> <p>“Alan, aren’t you afraid that we’re overselling STEM?”</p> <p>Sometimes, of course, they don’t wait to ask me.</p> <p>They make the assertion that we’re overselling STEM. They tend to say it to journalists, who print it in newspapers, under headlines like: “Not enough jobs for science graduates challenges STEM hype”.</p> <p>That was the Sydney Morning Herald last month.</p> <p>But every Chief Scientist will tell you it’s been a constant theme.</p> <p>As it happens, speaking for myself, I have not been out there beating the drum, insisting that we abolish arts and economics and shovel all the kids into STEM.</p> <p>Now if you get past the hype, the point that about insufficient jobs isn’t wrong. In fact, it’s obvious. The number of people who actually work in a laboratory, as a research scientist, in Australia, is very small.</p> <p>We’re looking at fewer than 30,000 people, in a workforce of 13 million.</p> <p>The number of people who work in one of the 108 occupations that the Department of Jobs classifies as a 'STEM job’ is much larger – in the order of 2 to 3 million.</p> <p>But still, the fact remains, there are people with STEM qualifications who aren’t doing one of those so-called STEM jobs.</p> <p>So it follows: telling hundreds of thousands of young people to study science because they can all be scientists is deeply misguided.</p> <p>We can all agree.</p> <p>But I’m still going to go out into the community and encourage parents, schools and students to prioritise the core subjects of science and maths.</p> <p>I’m still going to say that it’s a problem that performance and participation in these subjects has been slipping in our schools for at least two decades.</p> <p>And I’m still going to tell young people that if science excites them, and they’ve got the commitment to jump in and dive deep, then that’s what they ought to do.</p> <p>And I’ll do that not because I or anyone else can guarantee them a so-called STEM job – but because I want them to thrive in a world where there are no guarantees.</p> <p>I want them to have a skillset that gives them options – and opportunities.</p> <p>But let’s go back a few steps… and let me introduce you to a person who, on some definitions, is a failure.</p> <p>Me.</p> <p>As a teenager, I was your typical 1960s high-school nerd.</p> <p>I loved the gleam on that green laminate lab-bench… and the smell of the gas from the Bunsen burner.</p> <p>But I didn’t have any fixed ideas about a career.</p> <p>I panicked about not having a lifetime plan for a while, then I opted for engineering.</p> <p>At the end of my degree, the obvious next step was to qualify as a professional engineer.</p> <p>I didn’t. I took a detour from the 'E’ in STEM to the 'S’, and started a PhD. In neuroscience. More specifically, the electrical activity in the brains of snails.</p> <p>Whatever I thought I’d be doing at the end of high school, it wasn’t sticking electrodes into gastropods.</p> <p>Anyway, I did that for a few years, finished my PhD, and started my post-doc.</p> <p>By that time, I’d become intrigued by the wiring of the brain – so similar and yet so different from man-made electrical circuits.</p> <p>But most of all, I loved tinkering with the lab equipment. It was so much more exciting than doing the experiments!</p> <p>I came up with a design for a sophisticated electronics amplifier called a single-electrode voltage clamp. Other scientists who came to our lab wanted to buy them.</p> <p>So I decided to sell them.</p> <p>I packed my bags and headed to Silicon Valley, set up a company called Axon Instruments, and went into business as a device-maker for medical science and medicine.</p> <p>To recap: I’m now in my early thirties, I’ve swapped the E for an S, I’ve dropped the S, and I’m onto B: business.</p> <p>The pivot to B turned out extremely well – so well that I was employing over 100 people.</p> <p>Eventually I tried to retire, but it was awful, so I quit.</p> <p>I became a C for university chancellor, a W for writer and a P for public servant.</p> <p>And in all that time, I’ve never built a single bridge.</p> <p>So I can only guess that on some people’s definitions, I’ve been wasting my engineering degree for a very long time. A failure.</p> <p>I’ve got two sons. They also studied engineering. One of them, Alex, became an engineer – an extremely good one. The other, Victor, failed even faster and harder than I did. He became… a McKinsey consultant!</p> <p>Let’s have a show of hands. Who’s a failure? Who’s working today in a job that’s not a one-to-one match with their first degree?</p> <p>Who works in a business that’s run by a failure?</p> <p>Who’s married to a failure?</p> <p>Who encouraged their kids to become failures?</p> <p>Failure is normal! Many of us would say that failure is great!</p> <p>Because the reality is, you may never work a day in your life in a particular profession, and still be getting value from your degree.</p> <p>What I got from engineering was a set of cognitive tools: ways of breaking down a problem, of thinking about risk, and of managing a project.</p> <p>I learned that engineering is the art of optimisation, when perfection isn’t affordable and compromise isn’t an option.</p> <p>I apply these tools even when I’m not conscious that I’m doing it.</p> <p>My wife and my staff will tell you that my default setting is “engineer”.</p> <p>In fact – and I love this – they call me “the incurable engineer”.</p> <p>And along with those tools, engineering also gave me the philosophy that drives me to this day: you never give up, you always keep striving, because you know from experience that there’s always a better way.</p> <p>I’m not the only one who’s seen the value of these attributes in leadership.</p> <p>They say that a Masters of Engineering is the twenty-first century MBA.</p> <p>And clearly, having an engineering background has turned out pretty well for the likes of Jeff Bezos, Angela Merkel and Xi Jinping.</p> <p>Now in praising engineering, I’m not seeking to attract every high school student into an engineering degree, nor am I seeking to put down other disciplines.</p> <p>Any well-taught discipline can give you a set of useful and transferrable tools. Law. History. Economics. Science.</p> <p>My advice to students is to make sure you’ve got the foundations – English and maths – because whatever you do, you’re going to need them.</p> <p>Then work out what you enjoy, and what you’re good at – and immerse yourself in it. Master your chosen discipline. Get that firm grip on the tools. And be open to where your interests and skills might lead.</p> <p>You’ll spot that door to opportunity.</p> <p>And when you see it, you’ll be ready to push it open.</p> <p>Are students capable of facing the idea that a study path can be valuable even if it’s not a beeline to a specific professional job?</p> <p>Yes – because they’ve done it forever in economics.</p> <p>Of all the people with economics qualifications, guess how many work as economists?</p> <p>3%.</p> <p>How about law graduates?</p> <p>There are about 120,000 people in the country with law degrees.</p> <p>About 60,000 work as legal professionals.</p> <p>But we’re now producing new law graduates at a rate of 15,000 every year: that is, enough to completely replace the existing workforce in just four years’ time.</p> <p>So either lawyers burn out extremely fast, or a lot of law grads are doing something else.</p> <p>We respect our students enough to believe them capable of choosing economics and law with their horizons open.</p> <p>So, too, we should respect our students’ choice of a STEM degree with their career horizons open.</p> <p>That’s not just on parents and teachers – that’s on all of us.</p> <p>We often speak about education as a three part continuum: primary, secondary, tertiary.</p> <p>In reality, it’s a four part continuum – because the learning continues into work.</p> <p>Employers care about what their future workers are taught in schools and tertiary institutions.</p> <p>Schools care about what their students need to know to get into the tertiary degree of their choice and gain employment.</p> <p>So the signals up and down the continuum are important – and so are the relationships.</p> <p>That was the genesis of the STEM Partnerships report I prepared at the request of the COAG Education Council in 2018.</p> <p>In writing that report, I was impressed by two things.</p> <p>One, the high degree of unanimity about the problems in STEM education between teachers, university lecturers and employers.</p> <p>And two, the fact that when we got all of these people in the same room, together, they were often surprised by how much they agreed.</p> <p>That was a symptom of the problem that everyone acknowledged: we’re not good at working across the continuum.</p> <p>In our report, we focused in particular on the break in the continuum between high school and university.</p> <p>It used to be that university degrees would have entry prerequisites: subjects you had to study in order to get in.</p> <p>That would send a very clear signal to high schools about what they had to teach.</p> <p>Now most of those pre-requisites are gone.</p> <p>I mean it: there are universities in this country that will accept you into an engineering degree even if you went through Year 11 and 12 without studying maths – any maths, even maths at the most basic level.</p> <p>You might think that any student who was interested in engineering would work out that maths might be important.</p> <p>Perhaps – but that same student will definitely work out that he or she will need a high ATAR.</p> <p>And rightly or wrongly, students are advised that if they opt for basic-level maths instead of calculus-level maths they are more likely to be rewarded with the high ATARs they need for university.</p> <p>So you can’t blame them for trying to maximise their ATARs in order to get into engineering… by dropping the very subject that they actually need to have any hope of doing well in their engineering course.</p> <p>It’s not just maths, and it’s not just engineering. Employer after employer drew us back to that problem: talented students, poorly advised, inadequately prepared.</p> <p>We presented that evidence to COAG, and I’ve now been asked to report back on steps that we can take to give students what they deserve: informed choice.</p> <p>But restoring prerequisites is just one facet of restoring the continuum.</p> <p>We’ve got to open our students’ minds to the possibilities that there are many ways to succeed with a qualification in STEM.</p> <p>And that’s where school and industry partnerships can be invaluable.</p> <p>We’ll dive into that conversation today.</p> <p>But let me preface it with my list of the key messages that I want all employers to be sharing with students, in all of their dealings with schools.</p> <p>Message Number One. Whatever you read, whatever you’re told, don’t drop English and maths. We, employers, need workers who are literate and numerate, whether we’re a tech startup or the butcher’s shop that I saw this Christmas advertising for workers.</p> <p>The chalkboard sign in front of the shop window had eight words: Help wanted. English and maths essential. Apply within.</p> <p>Once more: don’t drop English and maths.</p> <p>Message Number Two. We, employers, don’t expect you to come out of university a one-to-one fit for a job. No: we understand that the role of a university is to make you job capable, not job ready.</p> <p>A graduate who’s only trained to do one thing is a graduate we’ve set up to fail if that one thing doesn’t go right – or ceases to be relevant to our firm.</p> <p>We, employers, look for graduates who’ve made the most of their education to date, and have the inner momentum to keep that learning going.</p> <p>In my days as a CEO, we did everything we could to build a culture where pivoting to new areas was encouraged.</p> <p>We offered a full week, paid, for professional development every year. And we insisted that employees take it.</p> <p>Not because we were nice, but because we were sensible.</p> <p>If we’re going to create that culture right across the economy, then we need many, many sensible employers – doing it, saying it, and sharing it in schools.</p> <p>So, employers, step up: recognise your obligations.</p> <p>Message Number Three. We, employers, don’t just use STEM graduates in the obvious ways.</p> <p>They don’t just stand around in white coats in labs or sitting at computers writing code.</p> <p>No: they design buildings, they write policy, they plan cities, they fly drones, they sit on the company board.</p> <p>And in all of those jobs, they’re using their STEM degrees.</p> <p>How do we convey that breadth to young people?</p> <p>My advice: don’t give them a list of job titles.</p> <p>Let’s be honest, how many people have a job title that describes what they actually do?</p> <p>How many teenagers find job titles in the least bit exciting?</p> <p>It’s much better to focus on the real-world problems your STEM-trained people are helping to solve.</p> <p>That’s interesting. That’s motivating. That puts the focus on how STEM is actually used.</p> <p>So to recap: we, employers, will go into schools and convey three things.</p> <p>One, don’t drop English and maths.</p> <p>Two, your degree isn’t the end of your education, it’s what opens doors, and it signals another start.</p> <p>And three, STEM education addresses real world problems and is useful to us and the wider community in many, many ways.</p> <p>***</p> <p>So, failures on the panel, and fellow failures in the audience today, we’ve got important work to be getting on with.</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> Thu, 23 May 2019 00:00:00 +0000 Anonymous 699 at https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au Speech: What manufacturing can teach AI https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/2019/05/speech-what-manufacturing-can-teach-ai <h1 class="au-header-heading">Speech: What manufacturing can teach AI</h1> <span><span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Anonymous (not verified)</span></span> <span>Wed, 2019-05-15 10:00</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>“AI is seeping into every aspect of manufacturing – and manufacturing companies are buying up AI talent as fast as universities can churn it out.”</p> <p>Dr Finkel gave the opening address at National Manufacturing Week in Melbourne on 14 May 2019, where he spoke on how the quality assurance and control systems already developed in the manufacturing industry could help Australia achieve a world of responsible AI.</p> <p>The full speech is available below, and also as a <a href="/sites/default/files/National-Manufacturing-Week-FINAL.pdf">PDF</a>.</p> <p>As Australia’s Chief Scientist, I go to a lot of industry conferences.</p> <p>I think I’ve spotted a general trend – and I’m sure it applies to manufacturing.</p> <p>Up on stage, there are any number of people who don’t work in a given industry who think they know exactly what people who do work in that industry ought to do.</p> <p>And I’m certain: there are any number of people who’ve never set foot in a factory who want to tell manufacturers exactly what they ought to do about artificial intelligence – AI.</p> <p>Now I agree that talking about AI is important – and ignoring all those people would be a terrible mistake.</p> <p>But today I want to flip the script.</p> <p>And instead of talking about what manufacturing needs to learn about AI, I want to talk about what AI development needs to learn from manufacturing.</p> <p>And I want to encourage all of you here today to reflect on how the systems we’ve developed to ensure quality and safety in manufacturing can help us achieve a world of responsible AI.</p> <p>But let me begin by laying out my credentials.</p> <p>I come from a manufacturing family.</p> <p>My father, David Finkel, was a maker of women’s clothing.</p> <p>He was born in an industrial town in Poland, called Bialystok, famous then and now for making two things: vodka, and carpets.</p> <p>If Dad had stayed in Poland he might have followed the path my grandfather had planned for him: starting a rug-making business in another part of the country.</p> <p>But this plan was shattered by the German invasion – and Dad was forced to seek refuge in Siberia instead.</p> <p>Then, as soon as he could after the end of the War, Dad got on a boat, and he came to Australia – with nothing.</p> <p>Or nothing, at least, in his pockets – he had courage and initiative in spades.</p> <p>He also knew factories – he’d known them all his life – and he knew that manufacturing is how migrants who start with nothing can get ahead.</p> <p>So that’s exactly what he did.</p> <p>He built a clothing business in Melbourne that at its height employed over 400 workers. And he gave many people – migrants, just like him – their start.</p> <p>I admired my father and his business acumen enormously.</p> <p>But I never expected to follow him into manufacturing.</p> <p>When I left school, my plan was to study engineering.</p> <p>I got my degree and I started my PhD on – wait for it – the electrical activity in the brains of snails.</p> <p>It turns out to be extremely difficult to study the basics of what goes on in brains, even little snail brains.</p> <p>I became obsessed with the need for better tools.</p> <p>And eventually I came up with a design for a new kind of electronic amplifier called a voltage clamp… that you don’t need to know anything about, except for the fact that it overcame a big limitation in all the existing designs.</p> <p>People started asking me where they could buy my electronic amplifiers.</p> <p>I realised that in order for people to buy them, I’d have to make them.</p> <p>So that’s what I decided to do. In 1983, at the age of thirty, I said goodbye to my research career at the Australian National University and I went with my wife to Silicon Valley.</p> <p>A migrant, without suppliers, without customers, without a workspace. Everything I had was basically in my head.</p> <p>I set up a company called Axon Instruments, and I went into manufacturing just like my father. Head-first.</p> <p>Axon was a one man company, and the one man was me, which made it very easy to get unanimous agreement on a wages policy but very hard going in every other respect.</p> <p>But I survived that first nerve-shattering year, and so did Axon.</p> <p>I got that electronic amplifier onto the market, and we actually turned a profit, even though my parts alone cost as much as the retail price of my nearest competitor.</p> <p>To cover direct and indirect labour and other overheads I would have to charge twice as much as the competition!</p> <p>I was a novice in business, but it occurred to me that this might be a problem.</p> <p>I made a panicked phone call back to Australia, and it was my step-father who picked up the phone.</p> <p>“Alan”, he said to me, “is your product truly better than the competition?”</p> <p>“Absolutely,” I said.</p> <p>“Then charge what you need to charge, because quality is remembered, long after price is forgotten.”</p> <p>That was Manufacturing 101.</p> <p>But then, manufacturing 201: you’re only as good as your most recent product.</p> <p>So for the next two decades I worked constantly – in my company, for my company and on my company – making new products and then making them better.</p> <p>Any of you here today who have built a thriving manufacturing business, and kept it going: you have my respect.</p> <p>By 2004, we employed close to 150 people, the company was still expanding, and I decided the time had come to move on. I sold the company, agreed to stick around for eighteen months as the Chief Technology Officer of the acquiring company, and then woke up on January 1st, 2006, a free agent.</p> <p>I tried retirement, but it was awful.</p> <p>So I went back to work, and I ended up as the Australian public’s on-call science adviser and in-house engineer.</p> <p>***</p> <p>Looking back, I can match the phases of that story against the bigger trajectory of history.</p> <p>My father’s factory: that was Industry 2.0 at its height, the Golden Age of Capitalism; when the population was growing and so was the economy, building on the massive technology dividend from the Second Word War.</p> <p>My company, Axon Instruments: that was Industry 3.0, the computer age.</p> <p>I founded Axon when IBM was rolling out the very first personal computer.</p> <p>It was one of my first big investments: 10,000 US dollars, with, by today’s standards, a miniscule 10 megabyte hard drive and just 384 kilobytes of memory.</p> <p>That’s about $37,000 in Australian dollars today.</p> <p>I sold the company twenty one years later, just as Apple was getting ready to launch the iPhone.</p> <p>So yes, in my time as a CEO, Industry 3.0, I saw every aspect of manufacturing transformed.</p> <p>And now, your factories today: Industry 4.0, the era when artificial intelligence is ascendant, coupled with rapidly accelerating progress in the Internet of Things, additive manufacturing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, digitalisation and embedded computing.</p> <p>Why do we say that we’re entering a different era, with AI at its core?</p> <p>Well, geologists say we can mark off a new epoch in world history if we see a universal signal – meaning it registers all over the globe – and it shows up as a distinct shift when we look back through the layers of rocks.</p> <p>By analogy, we enter a new industrial era if we have a force that becomes ubiquitous, that registers in the economic indicators.</p> <p>To be fair, we haven’t seen a definite AI productivity spike.</p> <p>But we wouldn’t expect to, because we’re in the learning phase, when the experiments are risky, and often, they don’t go right.</p> <p>For example: the world-famous “Fluffbot”.</p> <p>Fluffbot was a robot developed for Tesla’s gigafactory in Nevada.</p> <p>He had one job: to put fibreglass insulation fluff around the battery pack.</p> <p>Piece of cake for a human. Seriously advanced for a machine.</p> <p>And Fluffbot literally fluffed it. He couldn’t pick up the fibreglass reliably. And when he did pick up the fibreglass, he couldn’t find the battery. So he’d just drop it somewhere else.</p> <p>Tesla concluded that he wasn’t helping, and retired him.</p> <p>The media loves these stories – but it would be wrong to see the failures and miss the trend.</p> <p>Remember, it took us decades – decades – to see the productivity gains from developments we now understand to be transformative: such as electricity and IT.</p> <p>And the trajectory in AI is clear. The individual efforts are becoming bigger and bolder – and collectively, they’re surging into a wave.</p> <p>Already, today, AI routes trucks.</p> <p>AI makes more share trades than humans.</p> <p>AI chooses the news. AI writes the news. In China, an AI even presents the news. On TV.</p> <p>AI is in security cameras – an estimated 1 billion of them globally by next year.</p> <p>AI is in our phones – 4 billion of them already equipped with AI assistants.</p> <p>AI drives cars.</p> <p>But who’s impressed by cars? Think trucks. In Australia, AI drives dump-trucks on mine sites; trucks the size of two-storey houses. And AI drives the trains to the port.</p> <p>On the other side of the country, at the Port of Brisbane, giant AI straddle-carriers stack and load the cargo.</p> <p>And, of course, AI is seeping into every aspect of manufacturing – and manufacturing companies are buying up AI talent as fast as universities can churn it out.</p> <p>Ten years ago, we’d argue about the big and abstract threat of a robot apocalypse.</p> <p>Today, we’re grappling with the real and present impacts of AI on our businesses, our jobs, and our children. In short, our society.</p> <p>Do we want to live in a world where employees can be constantly monitored, and the least productive workers are automatically sacked?</p> <p>Who should be reading our job applications and mortgage paperwork and medical scans: humans, or machines?</p> <p>When is an automated driving system or production line sufficiently safe to be worthy of trust?</p> <p>And how do you transition decision-making responsibility to that system over time, whilst keeping the human operators alert and engaged?</p> <p>All of these questions are complicated by the massive information gap between the people who develop AI, and the people who deploy it – and the bigger gap again to the people whose lives it affects.</p> <p>As consumers, we don’t see the algorithms at work in our newsfeeds, or know if our job applications will be read in the first instance by a human or a machine.</p> <p>And even when we do see AI in a physical form – like the SmartGates at airports that use facial recognition to verify identity – many people don’t make the connection that this is AI at work.</p> <p>We’re still trying to find our way through an increasingly angry debate.</p> <p>On the one hand, there are people who insist that AI needs to be banned – smashing the glass and pulling the emergency brake on the train of progress.</p> <p>On the other hand, there are people who insist that any attempt at government control of AI is premature, that technological development and the wonders that it delivers blossom best in an unregulated free for all.</p> <p>On the first path, people with scruples give up on building AI with ethics.</p> <p>On the second path, we say that scruples and ethics don’t count.</p> <p>Either way, the unscrupulous win.</p> <p>But I look at the long history of manufacturers bringing new technologies into our lives.</p> <p>And I think of technologies that are inherently dangerous – like electricity and cars – that we have accepted in our lives for decades.</p> <p>And I also think of technologies such as medicines, and how we have learned to minimise the adverse side effects associated with their tremendous power to heal.</p> <p>We trust in our capacity to manage these technologies, not to ban them.</p> <p>When you think about it, about all the things that have to go right, every time, for a safe and effective product to arrive in our hands, at a price we can afford, at the moment we want – in a country like ours, where doing business isn’t cheap – that level of confidence is extraordinary.</p> <p>It didn’t exist at the dawn of Industry 2.0 – and it still doesn’t exist in many places around the world today.</p> <p>Quality is the Australian brand. Quality assurance is an Australian strength.</p> <p>That says to me that there’s an incredible repository of knowledge and experience in manufacturing. Right here.</p> <p>And there’s a lot to carry forward with AI.</p> <p>***</p> <p>Let’s think about how quality assurance works in manufacturing.</p> <p>As a manufacturer, you understand that your practices are guided by a mesh of interlocking systems, all designed to strike the optimal balance between quality, speed and safety.</p> <p>At one end of the spectrum is legislation: hard requirements, with criminal and civil penalties.</p> <p>Then there are industry codes and standards: sometimes binding, sometimes voluntary; but you adhere to them because that’s what your peers and your customers expect.</p> <p>Next on the spectrum are the practices that you adopt internally: feedback loops to your customers, data gathering, project evaluations, employee training.</p> <p>And finally, there are measures designed to inform consumers about what products do and how they are made, so that they can give their dollars to the companies that line up best with their values.</p> <p>When you first go into business, you think these things are constraining.</p> <p>In time, you realise that good regulation is a CEO’s best friend.</p> <p>It’s the way you get permission from the community to be in the game.</p> <p>Once you know the rules, and you know you comply with them, you can get the backing from investors, and play to win.</p> <p>It means it’s good business to do the right thing.</p> <p>That’s what we should develop around AI: not one Law of AI, but a spectrum of approaches – legal, financial, and cultural – all working together.</p> <p>I’ve been thinking in particular about the consumer end of the spectrum.</p> <p>If you’re in the market for an AI baby monitor, or you’re a business thinking about installing AI security cameras in your warehouse, how do you know if the product and the company that created it are trustworthy?</p> <p>You could read the hundred-page disclaimer – but you won’t.</p> <p>Maybe, if you’re a government department with a big procurement budget, you can put more resources into due diligence.</p> <p>But what, exactly, are you trying to find out?</p> <p>How do you know if the AI has been trained on a quality data-set?</p> <p>How, for example, would you know that an AI used for targeting job ads to the best candidates isn’t biased?</p> <p>How can you be confident that the system you installed last week will still be properly supported in two years’ time?</p> <p>And even if you do have your own idea of good practice, how do the AI developers come to understand your expectations?</p> <p>I was turning this problem over in my mind.</p> <p>And I thought about the efforts that Australian industry has made in recent years to clean up the supply chain – in partnerships with many activists in the community.</p> <p>A consumer can’t tell if a T-shirt has been produced with slave labour, or if the grower of their coffee beans was paid a fair price.</p> <p>But they can look for the Fair Trade mark, which tells them that the product complies with a certain minimum standard.</p> <p>Then I thought about my own experience many years ago, taking my company along the journey to becoming ISO 9000 certified.</p> <p>We needed ISO 9000 certification in order to be able to market a new product that inserted an electrode ten centimetres deep into human brains, during neurosurgery to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.</p> <p>As we discovered, the beauty of the ISO standards is that they give you a process for achieving quality by design, not by testing and rejecting.</p> <p>They force you to bake high expectations into your business practices, and they keep you honest by a combination of internal and external audits.</p> <p>At Axon, we maintained these exacting design and business practices for our non-medical products too, because they made us a better company and gave us a commercial edge.</p> <p>So imagine if we could do the same with AI: develop a standard and certification system for quality, safety and ethics.</p> <p>In the past, I’ve outlined one possible model for consumer products such as digital assistants, which I’ve called the Turing Certificate – in honour of the legendary Alan Turing.</p> <p>But mine is just one of many ideas in this area.</p> <p>I’ve just come back from the United States, where I met with the chief scientific advisor to the President, Kelvin Droegemeier.</p> <p>His office is taking the lead on an Executive Order signed by the President in February.</p> <p>It commits the federal government to leadership on AI governance – in its own practice, and in the standards it applies to others.</p> <p>That includes the development of technical standards for reliable, robust, trustworthy, secure, portable, and interoperable AI systems, in consultation with industry – a process now underway.</p> <p>The message is clear: America wants a rule-book, and they want Americans to write it.</p> <p>Over in Europe, the European Commission has just kicked off a large scale pilot of its Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy AI.</p> <p>It’s a set of seven principles, supported by a list of practical questions that you as a CEO need to consider, whether you’re a developer or a purchaser.</p> <p>For example:</p> <ul> <li>Did you put in place ways to measure whether your system is making an unacceptable amount of inaccurate predictions?</li> <li>How are you verifying that your data sets have not been compromised or hacked?</li> </ul> <p>The idea of the pilot is to test the set of questions, to ensure that the guidelines can actually be embedded in practice.</p> <p>Here in Australia, CSIRO’s Data61 is now consulting on our own AI Ethics Framework, commissioned by the government in last year’s federal budget.</p> <p>The discussion paper is out there, you’ve got until the end of this month to make a submission.</p> <p>And there will be other calls for your input, on multiple frameworks, as we get down to work on that spectrum of rules.</p> <p>So, why should Australian manufacturers pay attention?</p> <p>First, because it’s very much in your interests to opt in.</p> <p>Imagine if consumers who currently think of all things AI as an impenetrable fog had some capacity to distinguish between the good and the bad.</p> <p>How much easier would it be to win support for the AI tools you want to adopt, if you could point to a rigorous external standard?</p> <p>In particular, how much easier would it be to do business with big customers who will be willing to pay a premium for quality – like governments?</p> <p>We know that Australian manufacturers compete on quality, safety and ethics – so let’s get behind a scheme that makes those qualities count.</p> <p>And second, if it’s in your interests to opt in, then it’s also in your interests to get involved in the standards development process – today.</p> <p>You’ve got the experience with quality assurance approaches that work.</p> <p>You know that we’re strengthened by good regulation.</p> <p>You can bring your perspective to best practice requirements for AI.</p> <p>***</p> <p>It’s still going to be a decade of tricky decisions.</p> <p>And everyone here will be making them.</p> <p>Am I glad that I’m a failed retiree turned public servant these days, instead of a CEO?</p> <p>You bet. It’s nice not to be responsible every minute for the future of the company and its employees.</p> <p>But even to this day my analysis and advice is informed by my experience as a manufacturer.</p> <p>The reality is that we know more than we think we know.</p> <p>So, from one proud son of a manufacturing family, to the manufacturing family here today, enjoy the conference.</p> <p>And, in the closing salutation of my generation,</p> <p><strong><em>May the Force be with you.</em></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> Wed, 15 May 2019 00:00:00 +0000 Anonymous 702 at https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au Speech: Shipping sunshine at scale https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/2019/04/speech-shipping-sunshine-at-scale <h1 class="au-header-heading">Speech: Shipping sunshine at scale</h1> <span><span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Anonymous (not verified)</span></span> <span>Sun, 2019-04-28 11:00</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>“Let’s start with the big picture: zero emissions energy everywhere, for everyone. How do we get there?”</p> <p>Dr Finkel spoke to the US Department of Energy Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Annual Merits Review in Washington on 27 April 2019 about the challenges and opportunities of growing the world’s hydrogen economy.</p> <p>The full text of his speech is below, and also available for download as a <a href="/sites/default/files/NHS-DoE-Annual-Merits-Review-speech.pdf">PDF</a>.</p> <p>Let’s start today with a trip to Australia.</p> <p>You drive to the airport, get on a plane and fly 10,000 miles to Sydney.</p> <p>Then you swap planes and fly 2000 miles west to Perth, swap planes <em>again</em> and fly another 1000 miles north; and then you get hold of a four-wheel drive and follow the rail line into the desert for about five hours.</p> <p>You’re standing in the Pilbara.</p> <p>You’ll notice that it’s very, very hot; it’s very, very dry; and it’s very, very remote.</p> <p>But it’s also home to the world’s biggest robot.</p> <p>And that’s Rio Tinto’s Mine of the Future.</p> <p>It’s a sophisticated mega-machine taking a million tonnes of iron ore from pit to port every day, with 1000 miles of rail running fully autonomous trains, and autonomous dump trucks the size of two storey buildings.</p> <p>That mega-machine in the desert is one of the reasons we export more iron ore than any other country – with more than double the exports of Brazil.</p> <p>If you drive back to the coast, then get on a helicopter and just keep going, you’ll find yourself staring down at the Indian Ocean.</p> <p>What you’ll see out the window is a hundred miles of choppy water – maybe the occasional Great White Shark – and then, the largest offshore floating facility ever constructed.</p> <p>A 600,000 tonne LNG production platform, manufactured in Korea and operated by Shell Australia.</p> <p>We’ve been developing the gas-fields off the north-west coast of Australia for the past thirty years.</p> <p>And last year we took the crown as the world’s leading exporter of LNG.</p> <p>Is it hard to run giant robots in the desert and floating gas platforms in the sea?</p> <p>Yes.</p> <p>And when you factor in that we’re a high wage economy, that we’re a long way from a lot of key markets, and that we’re scrupulous on environmental protections and safety – then the economics only work if you can operate at scale.</p> <p>By “scale”, think big. Biggest-in-the-world scale. Biggest-ever-attempted scale.</p> <p>That scaled up thinking is what I want to focus on today: a sense of the incredible opportunity in reach.</p> <p>***</p> <p>So let’s start with the big picture: zero emissions energy everywhere, for everyone.</p> <p>How do we get there? The answer, in a word, is <em>electrification</em>.</p> <p>In a sentence: we replace the fossil fuels in electricity production with solar, wind and hydroelectricity, and possibly nuclear electricity; then we massively increase the production of clean electricity, and use it to replace the fossil fuels everywhere else.</p> <p>That is, we build the <em>Electric Planet</em>.</p> <p>Now electricity is incredibly versatile – but as you in the audience here today know better than anyone, it’s not enough.</p> <p>We need a way to ship the sunshine internationally, we need seasonal storage, we need fuel for heavy transport.</p> <p>And so we need the carrier, hydrogen: hydrogen for energy, at scale.</p> <p>What does that look like come 2050?</p> <p>McKinsey’s 2017 report for the Global Hydrogen Council set out a vision of 80 exajoules of hydrogen consumption per annum.</p> <p>Let’s accept this figure, and further, for the sake of the discussion, let’s assume that the world exclusively uses solar photovoltaics, in good locations, to produce all of this hydrogen, and that the losses in production, compression and distribution are 50% in total.</p> <p>On my calculations, acknowledging that the hydrogen replaces some of the electricity that would otherwise be used directly in the Electric Planet, we’d need just over 10,000 GW of additional solar electricity capacity to produce the 80 exajoules.</p> <p>10,000 GW.</p> <p>How many GW of solar capacity have we installed around the world thus far?</p> <p>About 400 GW.</p> <p>Wind and solar together are just over a 1,000 GW.</p> <p>The most solar and wind capacity we’ve ever installed in a single year is 140GW. Now, picture that, just for making hydrogen, 72 times.</p> <p>If we continue to imagine that all that future electricity to make hydrogen comes from solar, then in terms of land area, using current technology, that’s a solar farm the size of Wyoming.</p> <p>A lot of effort! But a lot of value.</p> <p>If that 80 exajoule vision is achieved, then we’re looking at US$1.3 trillion of global hydrogen sales come 2050.</p> <p>An industry of this magnitude provides an extraordinary multiplier on return for effort. For instance, you might be the engineer who scrapes away for a decade for what looks on paper like a tiny improvement…</p> <p>… but in a mega-scale market, <em>every increment counts</em>.</p> <p>Let’s say that all the 2050 hydrogen comes from electrolysis. A 1% efficiency gain in electrolysis saves US$13 billion per year.</p> <p>Or say that half the 2050 hydrogen is to be used in fuel cells. A 1% efficiency gain in fuel cells saves US$7 billion per year.</p> <p>That means that the work done by the world’s best technologists – and I’m looking at <em>you</em>, right here in this room – will repay investors in spades.</p> <p>And if you’re excited by scale, Australia is excited by scale – because if any country is blessed with buckets of sunshine and years of producer experience, trust me, it’s Australia.</p> <p>On my calculations, if Australia were to export as much energy in the form of hydrogen as we currently export in the form of LNG, then we’d need 880 GW of new build solar, covering just over 4 thousand square miles.</p> <p>In Australian terms, that’s about half the size of our biggest cattle station.</p> <p>So, yes, it’s a big requirement – but we’re used to thinking on that scale; and phased over thirty years, it’s absolutely conceivable.</p> <p>To fulfil the potential, we need commitment.</p> <p>That’s why I’m here: as the head of the national taskforce commissioned by every government in Australia, state and federal, to develop our National Hydrogen Strategy.</p> <p>As it happens, we’re currently in the midst of national elections.</p> <p>It’s the first time, to my knowledge, that either of our major parties has gone to an election talking about hydrogen. This time, it’s both.</p> <p>Our leaders are alive to the promise of this agenda.</p> <p>So, there’s the case for the affirmative: the reasons for optimism.</p> <p>But what you really want to know is the case for the negative: what wakes me up at night.</p> <p>I’d say there are three things.</p> <p>The first is cost.</p> <p>Japan has named the target: price parity with the landed cost of LNG.</p> <p>That’s tough – but then again, that’s exactly what I would have said ten years ago if you’d asked me if new-build solar could get to parity with coal.</p> <p>And in many places today, it’s not at parity – it’s already cheaper.</p> <p>To meet the Japanese landed cost target for hydrogen, the electricity to produce it will have to be comfortably below US$10 per MWh, without subsidies.</p> <p>So yes, we have to keep that cost target for hydrogen firmly in mind – but like it’s done before, the market will find a way. And I can go back to sleep.</p> <p>The second thing that wakes me up at night is safety.</p> <p>Hydrogen has to be safe, and be <em>seen</em> to be safe by consumers.</p> <p>And that comes down to good regulations.</p> <p>Good regulations aren’t a constraint. Good regulations are a CEO’s best friend!</p> <p>If you’ve got clarity, and the community has comfort, then investors will have confidence.</p> <p>Both the United States and Australia have outstanding safety records when it comes to handling natural gas.</p> <p>The risks associated with hydrogen are different – not greater. And they can be managed.</p> <p>So I can go back to sleep.</p> <p>That brings me to the third thing that wakes me up at night.</p> <p>I’ll be honest… I close my eyes, and I see the Valley of Death.</p> <p>The <em>Silicon Valley</em> Valley of Death.</p> <p>On the far side of the valley I see the hydrogen economy of 2050.</p> <p>Freeways lined with refuelling stations.</p> <p>Half a billion hydrogen cars, buses and trucks.</p> <p>Thousands of square miles of solar PV.</p> <p>A million forklifts powered by Plug Power fuel cell systems.</p> <p>Hundreds of hydrogen carrier ships criss-crossing the globe.</p> <p>It’s glorious.</p> <p>And then I look at the terrain right in front of me.</p> <p>And somehow, you, and I, and all of the pioneers who can see that brilliant future so clearly, have got to rally our people to hitch up the wagons… and trudge down that slope. And through the canyon. And up the other side.</p> <p>Whichever way I look at it, it’s daunting.</p> <p>So, can I go back to sleep? I’m still deciding.</p> <p>But there are two thoughts I’d invite you to consider.</p> <p>The first is that the Valley of Death isn’t a gap to be jumped in a single flying leap.</p> <p>It’s a journey to navigate on multiple paths.</p> <p>That means being prepared to build out gradually, learning and recalibrating along the way.</p> <p>For example: cracking the tough nut of moving hydrogen around the world.</p> <p>Yes, we can build pipelines, but we can’t easily build a 4000 mile pipeline under the ocean from Darwin, Australia to Tokyo, Japan. We need ships.</p> <p>Now I’d be delighted if a big investor would wake up tomorrow morning and decide to drop US$10 billion on a hydrogen port and liquefaction facility in Australia.</p> <p>And maybe throw in another US$50 billion for 200 liquid hydrogen tankers to improve on the current global total of zero.</p> <p>Not going to happen.</p> <p>But what we <em>can</em> do today is make and ship ammonia.</p> <p>So we can start there, where regulators and investors have experience; and gradually open up the pathways for global trade.</p> <p>We can take the same approach in the <em>other </em>big and interconnected systems we need to develop – be it systems and new technology for long haul trucking, or electricity generation, or hydrogen in the domestic gas mains.</p> <p>It’s a global effort.</p> <p>It’s still a race.</p> <p>It’s a race against time, and against each other.</p> <p>But it’s the sort of race that can generate the momentum to push everyone forward: if we build on the emerging vision among experts in the United States, Europe and Asia for a decarbonised energy supply; if we draw in private investment; if we collaborate as well as compete; if we develop the supply chains; and if governments make it a priority.</p> <p>So that’s my first thought for this audience: the trudge through the Valley may be gruelling – but you’re not alone, there are many viable paths, and even your competitors are on your side.</p> <p>My second thought is to encourage you to reach out to Australia.</p> <p>What Australians see in America is a country that understands the challenges of scale.</p> <p>A country that’s almost incapable of starting small without a plan to go big.</p> <p>So, when you look at Australia, I want you to see your at-scale laboratory.</p> <p>We’ve got lots of space, lots of energy, and lots of expertise.</p> <p>Talk to us early, at the demonstration phase: we’ll take the call.</p> <p>I also want you to look at Australia, and see a nation of early adopters. In no other country will you find a higher percentage of homes with rooftop solar.</p> <p>So choose Australia for your pilot program – or look for opportunities to sell and support your products.</p> <p>And indulge me on just one more imaginary trip.</p> <p>It’s 2050. You’re flying over the heartland of Australia. Who knows what sort of aircraft – but whatever it is, it’s impressive.</p> <p>And you look out over that great sunburnt country… and spread out before you is the world’s biggest hydrogen farm.</p> <p>Australian sunshine.</p> <p>Global technology.</p> <p>And I hope you’re seeing it with me: the realisation of your ideas, at scale.</p> <p>That’s where we’re headed – so reach out to us to find your path.</p> <p>And, as Chief Scientists are allowed to say, at the end of every speech…</p> <p><strong><em>May the Force be with you.</em></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> Sun, 28 Apr 2019 01:00:00 +0000 Anonymous 700 at https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au