Reframing culture: Stuart Cunningham’s legacies

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Reframing culture: Stuart Cunningham’s legacies

Author Kathy Nickels
Date 22 December 2021

In a recent essay published in Media International Australia, Professor Julian Thomas reflects on the substantial and diverse contributions of ADM+S Board member, Distinguished Professor Stuart Cunningham to ‘reframing culture’ in Australian research, policy and industry practice from early reformulations of Australian film history to his recent work on digital media disruption.

“One of Cunningham’s distinctive qualities was his interest in not only studying institutions and policies, but also in working with others to make them and shape them” writes Professor Thomas.

The essay discusses the range of Cunningham’s institutional and intellectual legacies, suggesting that his advocacy for cultural policy and the creative industries together with his leadership of major collaborative research initiatives in the humanities and social sciences have been especially important for media and cultural studies in Australia.

Further, his approach to the project of ‘reframing culture’ is likely to remain a critical task.

Read the full essay Reframing culture: Stuart Cunningham’s legacies

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Citizen scientists to drive independent assessment of search engines and social media advertising

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Citizen scientists to drive independent assessment of search engines and social media advertising

Author Kathy Nickels
Date 17 December 2021

Researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S) are using citizen scientists to understand the impact of online search recommendations and advertising practices on Australian internet users.

The Australian Search Experience and The Australian Ad Observatory projects, launched earlier this year, are generating datasets that represent the online experiences of varied demographic groups in Australia.

Professor Julian Thomas, Director of the ADM+S Centre, said the projects are critical to enabling greater understanding of the operations of search engines and social media advertising platforms.

‘Australians use search engines and social media every day, but there is little public knowledge of how these platforms work, and misconceptions abound. Enlisting citizen scientists helps us analyse the automated systems that lie behind the content that individual users see,’ says Professor Thomas. ‘By using a citizen science approach, we can also increase awareness of the potential social impacts of these systems and encourage informed public debate about the regulation and future development of these systems.’

Both citizen science projects will be seeking participants until mid-2022.

The Australian Search Experience 

The Australian Search Experience project investigates the role of personalisation in shaping the information that Australian internet users find online.

Professor Axel Bruns, Australian Laureate Fellow and Professor in the Digital Media Research Centre at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) said the project studies the personalisation of search results for critical news and information, across key platforms including Google and YouTube, based on the profiles these platforms establish for their different users.

‘Search engine personalisation may be influencing your search results and consequently shaping what you know of the world. This can affect personal decisions as well as collective decisions as a society – from how we spend our money, to whom we vote for, and to our attitudes on critical issues like the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.’

Launched in July 2021, the Australian Search Experience project has reached over 1,000 participants and collected more than 209 million search results. Research is at an early stage, and more participants are needed.

Australian Internet users can visit The Australian Search Experience website to join the project, and download a simple browser plugin to their computer.

This project is a partnership between the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S) and the international research and advocacy organisation AlgorithmWatch.

The Australian Ad Observatory 

The Australian Ad Observatory project delves into Facebook’s use of ‘dark ads’, which target users on the basis of detailed information collected about them online.

The project, led by Professor Mark Andrejevic from Monash University and Professor Daniel Angus from QUT, aims to improve transparency around Facebook’s use of advertising.

Facebook users can visit The Australian Ad Observatory website and install an extension on their laptop or desktop Web browser. This extension collects the ads the participants see when they visit Facebook. Users can use the plugin to review the ads they have encountered and gain an understanding of how they are being profiled as targets for particular types of products or services.

‘The goal is to provide some visibility into a form of advertising that is no longer publicly visible because it is delivered on personal devices based on large, private collections of data,’ said Professor Angus. Personal user data is often seen as a goldmine for advertisers and online advertising works very differently to other more traditional mediums.’

The project is working in collaboration with the Centre for Global Indigenous Futures at Macquarie University to find out more about how advertisers may be targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have historically been subjected to harmful stereotyping, misinformation campaigns, and predatory targeting by advertisers.

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ADM+S research fellows receive international AI + Regulation Emerging Scholar Award

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ADM+S research fellows receive international AI + Regulation Emerging Scholar Award

Author Kathy Nickels
Date 15 December 2021

ADM+S research fellows Dr Henry Fraser and José-Miguel Bello y Villarino have received the 2022 Scotiabank Global AI + Regulation Emerging Scholar Award for best paper from the AI + Society Initiative at the University of Ottawa Centre for Law, Technology and Society.

The award recognises emerging scholars in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) and regulation and supports research seeking to (re)define problems and identify solutions to challenging issues related to ethical AI and technology development.

The successful paper was selected by an international review committee of leading scholars in the field of AI and Law. The paper Where residual risks reside: Lessons for Europe’s risk-based AI regulation from other domains explores the question of how to judge the acceptability of “residual risks” in the European Union’s Proposal for a Regulation laying down harmonized rules on Artificial Intelligence (the Proposal).

The Proposal is a risk-based regulation that prohibits certain uses of AI and imposes several layers of risk controls upon “high-risk” AI systems.

Much of the commentary on the Proposal has focused on the issue of what AI-systems should be prohibited, and which should be classified as high risk. This paper bypasses this threshold question, engaging instead with a key issue of implementation.

Dr Henry Fraser is based at QUT. His research focuses on how to use and develop civil liability laws to promote responsible automated decision-making (ADM).

Jose-Miguel Bello is based at the University of Sydney and his work is concerned with the policy implications of machine-assisted decision making and its implementation in regulatory terms. He has previously worked for the Commission and Council for the EU.

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How TikTok could influence next year’s federal election

Tik Tok application on mobile phone

How TikTok could influence next year’s federal election

Author Kathy Nickels
Date 9 December 2021

TikTok is being used to reach younger voters ahead of next year’s federal election. One such account ‘Gen Z for Albo’ is run on a voluntary basis and includes content that adapts trending sounds and anti-Scott Morrison commentary and shows short clips of Liberal or National politicians stumbling during press conferences.

In contrast, a report last month found that a US-based marketing firm claiming to work for the Labor Party was offering to pay TikTok users to post anti-Scott Morrison sponsored content.

In this Triple J Hack article, Professor Dan Angus comments that “Campaigning has become dirtier, [and] there has been a rise in misinformation and disinformation in recent campaigns,” . He warns that with repeated exposure to these politically aligned TikTok videos there is a real risk of people picking up on false narratives.

Read the full article here

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Sex Tech Hackathon 2022: Open to expressions of interest

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Sex Tech Hackathon 2022: Open to expressions of interest

Author Zahra Stardust
Date 15 December 2021

Are you interested in participating in a Public Interest Sex Tech Hackathon for Valentine’s Day?

What does public interest sex tech look like in an age of surveillance capitalism, when our data is collected and monetised at scale? How would inclusive design by and for marginalised communities impact the kinds of sex tech that is available?

Is it possible to design and govern ethical sex tech at scale? What would counter-surveillance sex tech look like, that studies ‘up’ to analyse the sexual practices of big tech?

The ADM+S has partnered with global software consultancy firm Thoughtworks and training academy for sextech start-ups and professionals, SexTech School to host the Sex Tech Hackathon 2022 in-person in Melbourne on 11, 12 and 13 February 2022.

The hackathon aims to brings together designers, technologists and communities to workshop how sexual technologies can be designed and governed in ways that prioritise public interest benefit.

It will investigate what intersectional, public interest sex tech could look like, how intimate data can be collected, stored and shared in more ethical ways, and whether ‘big data’ can be used for sexual and reproductive health, wellbeing, rights and pleasure.

The organisers are looking for a diverse range of participants and knowledges and are currently inviting Expressions of Interests.

  • People over 18 years of age
  • People with relevant skills, expertise or experience
  • People with ideas for creating public interest sex tech

In particular, organisers encourage:

  • People with special skills, such as fabricators, developers, software engineers, designers and technologists
  • People with particular expertise, such as sex therapists, sex educators, digital rights advocates and public health experts
  • People disproportionately impacted by sex tech design and governance, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer communities, trans and gender diverse people, people with HIV, people with disability or sex workers.

For further information, visit the Sex Tech Hackathon 2022 website

Expressions of Interest can be submitted directly via this link and are due on 14 January 2022.

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Social media companies could soon be forced to end anonymity for online trolls. But will this stop the trolling?

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Social media companies could soon be forced to end anonymity for online trolls. But will this stop the trolling?

Author Leah Hawkins
Date 24 November 2021

Australia’s federal government recently introduced legislation that would require social media companies to collect user details and hand over their identities in defamation cases. This is based on the assumption that abuse, bigotry and trolling on the internet is largely produced by anonymity.

In an article published in the ABC, ADM+S researchers explain how this premise is flawed, citing that the vast majority of online harm is perpetuated by verifiable accounts.

Associate Investigator Professor Daniel Angus notes that the worst offenders tend to use their real name, including some federal politicians. Instead of dealing with the epidemic of online harm, Prof Angus states that the proposed legislation is merely a distraction. “It’s the tried and trusted strategy of looking tough on something.”

Read the full article here.

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Burnout by design? Warehouse and shipping workers pay the hidden cost of the holiday season

Warehouse

Burnout by design? Warehouse and shipping workers pay the hidden cost of the holiday season

Author Leah Hawkins
Date 30 November 2021

Christmas and Black Friday are periods of intense pressure for e-commerce workers. In an industry with high turnover and injury rates, there are concerns that working conditions are overwhelming by design.

In an article published in The Conversation, the team behind the ADM+S research project ‘Automated Precarity’ share the concerning statistics behind working conditions at Amazon and similar companies. Research has shown that the pressure of long hours, high speeds and low job security leads to high attrition rates that benefit the companies that workers resign from.

Automated Precarity is a research project that aims to study the experience of Australian e-commerce workers and ascertain if working conditions are comparable to those overseas. Workers in the industry can share their experiences in an anonymous interview for the project and receive a $50 Visa gift card.

Read the full article here.

Participate in the research project here.

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Artificial intelligence has probably already made decisions about you. Here’s why that matters

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Artificial intelligence has probably already made decisions about you. Here’s why that matters

Author Leah Hawkins
Date 30 November 2021

Artificial intelligence is often considered as making neutral decisions based on purely mathematical analysis of data. While this is somewhat true, the reality of human bias and exploitation undercuts this utopian vision.

In an article published in the ABC, ADM+S Research Fellow Dr Jathan Sadowski describes the prevalence of automated decision-making systems in our everyday lives, from assessing insurance claims to recommending songs on Spotify. These algorithmic programs sort through massive amounts of data in order to make informed decisions about humans—what they like, if they can pay back a loan, or whether or not they should receive a fine.

There is, however, growing ethical concern about the use of these programs. Often the data they use is sorted by exploited workers in marginalised communities, and the decisions they make show gender and racial biases indicating the human origins of their programming.

So how can these technologies become more transparent and accountable, and what kind of technologies are compatible with a democratic society? “That’s a question more of us need to consider, since the answer will have a profound impact on everybody,” said Dr Sadowski.

Read the full article here

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Prof Jean Burgess elected to the Australian Academy of the Humanities

Professor Jean Burgess

Prof Jean Burgess elected to the Australian Academy of the Humanities

Author Kathy Nickels
Date 26 November 2021

Professor Jean Burgess, Associate Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S), has been elected as one of the 25 new Fellows of the Australian Academy of the Humanities – the highest honour for humanities scholars in Australia.

Academy President, Lesley Head FASSA FAHA announced the new Fellows yesterday.

“I am honoured to welcome our new Fellows to the Academy, elected in recognition of their distinguished achievement in the humanities and arts disciplines and for their outstanding contribution to Australian cultural life,” said Professor Head.

Professor Jean Burgess is one of Australia’s leading experts on the social and cultural aspects of digital media technologies and platforms.

ADM+S Centre Director Julian Thomas welcomed the announcement, saying “Professor Burgess’s election to the Academy is richly merited recognition of her remarkable contribution to the emergence of digital media as a field of scholarly inquiry in Australia and internationally.”

As ADM+S Associate Director, Professor Burgess is instrumental in connecting national and international researchers and partners across government, industry and the community to work towards the Centre’s vision – to develop responsible, ethical and inclusive automated decision-making systems for the benefit of all Australians.

In total 40 new members were elected to the Australian Academy of Humanities Fellowship including Fellows, Corresponding Fellows, and Honorary Fellows. Read the full list of new members on the Australian Academy of the Humanities website.

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Kate has faced years of abuse on social media. She says it’s time platforms did something about it

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Kate has faced years of abuse on social media. She says it’s time platforms did something about it

Summary Leah Hawkins
Date 24 November 2021

Original Article Rosalie Gillett

Online harm has become a fact of life on many social media platforms, particularly in cases of women experiencing virulent misogyny. These spaces are largely unregulated, and instigators are able to perpetuate abuse without threat of consequence.

Dr Rosalie Gillett (Research Fellow at ADM+S and ABC Top 5 Humanities Scholar) writes about the need for more robust online regulation in an article published in the ABC. While companies such as Bumble and Twitter have taken steps to allow users to access therapy services and better curate their online experience, online platforms are still not doing enough to regulate the “Wild West” spaces of the internet.

Moderating abusive content is difficult and expensive, but these companies, with their massive resources, can focus on implementing anti-harassment measures into the building blocks of their programming, and understand how online functions by listening to the women experiencing daily abuse on their platforms.

Read the full article here

ABC Top 5 Humanities residency

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Political Economy of Sex Tech

PROJECT SUMMARY

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Political Economy of Sex Tech

Focus Area(s): News & Media
Research Program(s): Data, Institutions 

Smart sex technologies and networked apps are being used in sex and relationship education, to enhance sexual wellness and to improve sexual and reproductive health. To do so, they collect and process substantial amounts of intimate data. This project examines the political economy of ‘sex tech’ in order to identify how sexual technologies are being governed at scale, how sexual data is being collected, stored, shared and monetised, and how the material benefits of sex tech may be more equitably distributed.

It will provide empirical grounding to enrich scholarship on ethical data governance, predictive profiling and accountability of smart technologies.

RESEARCHERS

Zahra Stardust profile picture

Dr Zahra Stardust

Lead Investigator

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Automating safety: developing better data models to help foster prosocial platforms

PROJECT SUMMARY

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Automating safety: developing better data models to help foster prosocial platforms

Focus Area(s): News & Media
Research Program: Data

This project identifies how misunderstandings of harm and safety flow into flawed data logics and ineffective automated digital platform responses. To date, platforms have presented the principal unit of harm as individual pieces of content or media objects.

Based on this assumption, platforms’ responses to harm have primarily focused on moderating discrete pieces of content.

RESEARCHERS

ADM+S Associate Director Jean Burgess

Prof Jean Burgess

Lead Investigator

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ADM+S Chief Investigator Nic Suzor

Prof Nic Suzor

Chief Investigator

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Dr Rosalie Gillett profile picture

Dr Rosalie Gillett

Associate Investigator

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ADM+S professional staff Abdul Obeid

Abdul Obeid

Data Engineer

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Automated Content Regulation (disinformation and political bias)

PROJECT SUMMARY

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Automated Content Regulation (disinformation and political bias)

Focus Area(s): News & Media
Research Program: Data

This project will evaluate the moderation of social media content, which has become radically more reliant on machine learning classifiers during the Covid-19 pandemic. We examine moderation at this time through two case studies, which aim to: 1. Test allegations of political bias in the removal of tweets, and 2.

Identify coordinated bot activity involved in spreading misinformation and the moderation responses of platforms.Ultimately, this project will provide new knowledge about particular case studies, import insights into trends across cases and time, and new methodological techniques for assessing automated content moderation on social media platforms.

RESEARCHERS

ADM+S Chief Investigator Nic Suzor

Prof Nic Suzor

Lead Investigator

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ADM+S Associate Director Jean Burgess

Prof Jean Burgess

Chief Investigator

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ADM+S Chief Investigator Andrew Kenyon

Prof Andrew Kenyon

Chief Investigator

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ADM+S Investigator Timothy Graham

Dr Timothy Graham

Associate Investigator

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PARTNERS

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American University

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How does Facebook control the ads you see? The truth is out there

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How does Facebook control the ads you see? The truth is out there

Source QUT Media
Date 21 October 2021

A national ‘citizen science’ project has been launched to delve into Facebook’s use of ‘dark ads’ that target users based on detailed information collected about them online.

The Australian Ad Observatory project, is an ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S) research initiative led by QUT’s Professor Daniel Angus and Professor Mark Andrejevic from Monash University and aims to provide accountability and transparency around Facebook’s use of advertising.

To find out how they are being targeted participants can install an extension on their laptop or desktop Web browser that collects all the ads they see when they go on Facebook. Users will gain an understanding of the pattern of the ads and an idea of whether they are being targeted for particular types of products or services.

The extension also allows researchers to see overall patterns of ad targeting and only collects the ads (posts identified as ‘sponsored content’) and not any personal information other than demographic information supplied by users when installing the extension.

“The goal is to provide some visibility into a form of advertising that is no longer publicly visible because it is delivered on personal devices based on large, private collections of data,” said Professor Angus.

“Far removed from the free and open ideals of the early web, today the vast bulk of our personal data is held within ‘walled gardens’ controlled by a handful of tech giants such as Facebook.

“This data is a goldmine for advertisers and online advertising works very differently to other more traditional mediums.

“With television, anyone watching the same channel in the same region sees the same ad. On your personal digital devices, however, the ad may be targeted to you based on detailed information about your past behaviour, your interests, and your preferences.

“It can also be tailored to you based on a psychological profile that suggests what type of advertising appeal might work best for you. It could be fear based, for example, or a humour-based one.

“The use of ‘dark ads’ has made it possible to discriminate in online advertising and to engage in forms of stereotyping and manipulation that are invisible to consumers.”

Computer cursor pointing to Facebook banner

Watch one of the project’s lead researchers, Professor Dan Angus talk about the Australian Ad Observatory Project on Channel Seven’s Sunrise show here

Professor Angus said Facebook’s reliance on personalised forms of customized advertising dates back to the launch of its Social Ads functionality in 2007.

“Advertising had appeared on the platform previously but Social Ads accelerated Facebook’s course towards the consumer surveillance network it has ultimately become,” he said.

Professor Angus added there was increasing speculation about how Facebook decides what ads its users see.

“While they have provided some transparency via the Facebook Ad Library, this offers significantly limited information, is not independently verified, and removes inactive ads from its public database,” he said.

“The lack of information on algorithmically targeted advertising practices means that we have few ways of knowing if there are breaches of advertising codes of practice, or other potentially problematic activities occurring.

“We also do not know how the ad environment is being transformed by the detailed tracking of individual users. The platforms claim this type of advertising is more relevant to users, but everyday experience suggests these claims may be overblown.

“Advertising, which plays an important role in shaping consumer values and associations, has a long history of predatory targeting and stereotyping of vulnerable groups. We need to be able to see ads and how they are being targeted in order to determine whether these practices persist online. Without some form of accountability, advertisers and platforms have less incentive to avoid socially harmful practices.

“That’s where the Australian Ad Observatory project comes in and the more participants we can attract, the greater the transparency.”

Professor Angus said the project was working in collaboration with the Centre for Global Indigenous Futures at Macquarie University to find out more about how advertisers target Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have historically been subjected to harmful stereotyping and predatory targeting by advertisers.

Find out more or join the project: https://staging.admscentre.org.au/adobservatory/

Media contact:
Amanda Weaver, QUT Media, 3138 3151 or amanda.weaver@qut.edu.au
After hours, Rod Chester, QUT Media team leader, 0407 585 901, media@qut.edu.au

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Tackling the challenges of automation, algorithms and AI in news and media

Audience and panel at the ADM+S News and Media Research Symposium

Tackling the challenges of automation, algorithms and AI in news and media

Author Kathy Nickels
Date 7 October 2021

Researchers and industry experts gathered at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S) News and Media Research Symposium last week to address crucial challenges associated with the use of automation, algorithms and artificial intelligence in news, media and online entertainment.

The ADM+S News and Media Research Symposium, hosted at QUT, was co-sponsored by QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre. The event showcased the breadth and depth of research conducted at ADM+S in the news and media focus area to over 150 attendees in-person and online.

National and international delegates discussed issues related to automated decision-making systems used in search engines, recommendation systems, personalised newsfeeds, content moderation systems, and programmatic advertising.

The launch of the Australian Ad Observatory project, and early findings from the Australian Search Experience project were just some of the event’s highlights.

“It is very exciting to have these two major projects underway”, said ADM+S News and Media Focus Area leader Professor Axel Bruns.

“Both of them help to create more transparency about how the major digital media platforms use algorithms and automation to determine what information, content and advertising different Australian users see – and we actively engage the public in this process.”

The event also marked the transition of leadership of the News and Media Focus Area from Professor Bruns to incoming co-leaders Professor Jean Burgess (QUT) and Dr James Meese (RMIT).

Dr Meese said, “Axel has been a fantastic leader throughout the Focus Area’s critical start-up phase, launching major projects while also growing our Australia-wide research team. We’re excited about continuing his great work and furthering the conversation around these critical issues.”

The event provided an opportunity to engage with partners and organisations in the news and media industry including ABC, ABC RMIT Fact Check, Australian Communications Consumer Action Network Limited (ACCAN), Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), AlgorithmWatch, Consumer Policy Research Centre (CPRC), Consumers Health Forum of Australia, Data & Society, First Nations Media Australia (FNMA), Gradient Institute, Griffith University, Hans Bredow Institute, Macquarie University, Nanyang Technological University, Oxford Internet Institute, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Torres Strait Islander Media Association (TSIMA), and the Victorian Information Commissioner (OVIC).

Watch the session recordings of the ADM+S News and Media Research Symposium on Youtube.

Session 01: Overview of Critical Challenges and Opportunities in News and Media Around Automated Decision-Making
Session 02: Search Engines and Recommendation Systems
Session 03: Search Personalisation and Polarisation
Session 04: News and Automation
Session 05: Automated Content Curation and Moderation: Problematic and ‘Borderline’ Content
Session 06: Platform Governance: Race, Gender and Sexuality
Session 07: Digital Inclusion and Media Use in Remote First Nations Communities
Session 08: Facebook Advertising: The Australian Ad Observatory Project

Read about other projects related to News and Media being undertaken at the ADM+S here.

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Privatising the sky: drone delivery promises comfort and speed, but at a cost to workers and communities

A drone delivering a package

Privatising the sky: drone delivery promises comfort and speed, but at a cost to workers and communities

Author Kathy Nickels
Date 5 October 2021

Drone delivery company Wing recently celebrated 100,000 deliveries, with their two biggest trial sites in Canberra and Logan. The COVID-19 pandemic is helping companies like Wing to accelerate their agenda, as they can promise less congestion, less consumer mobility, and less social contact.

The groundwork is already underway but what is the real cost of delivery drones in our skies? This piece from The Conversation considers some of the impacts of drone delivery including workforce expectations, environmental concerns and regulation.

Read the full article here

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Australian Ad Observatory Project aims to make Facebook’s ‘dark ads’ publicly accessible

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Australian Ad Observatory Project aims to make Facebook’s ‘dark ads’ publicly accessible

Source Monash University Media
Date 3 October 2021

The ADM+S Centre launched its latest data donation project on October 1. This project is asking members of the public to install a browser extension that aims to provide accountability and transparency around the social media giant’s use of targeted advertising.

The Australian Ad Observatory will collect Facebook users’ personalised or ‘dark’ ads and develop strategies for addressing the potential harms associated with them.

The project is led by Monash University’s Professor Mark Andrejevic as part of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S).

Researchers from ADM+S developed the tool to attempt to make public the ads that are being served to people online and how advertising is distributed across demographic groups.

Once Facebook users install the browser plugin it will identify sponsored advertising content, take a snapshot of the content and send it back to a central server, allowing researchers to build an independent archive of advertising materials that are shown to Facebook users.

“Dark ads pose a host of potential social harms, from discrimination, the propagation of racist or gender stereotyping, and the spread of false and harmful information,” Professor Andrejevic said.

“It is important to hold advertising systems accountable for the forms of messaging they promulgate.

“Online advertising and digital marketing takes place on a mass scale and a large majority of its distribution is automated – therefore the systems don’t know when they’re engaging in regressive, racist or sexual activity as they are driven by the goal of maximising clicks and responses.”

A recent survey of 1,094 people conducted by Essential Research on behalf of the ADM+S Centre revealed less than half (41 per cent) of participants felt Facebook advertising was relevant to them.

Just 30 per cent of respondents said they were comfortable with their personal data being used for advertising purposes, and more than three-quarters said Facebook should be transparent about how it distributes advertising on its newsfeed.

The ADM+S tool builds on a study conducted by ProPublica which was designed to track political advertising on Facebook, as well as a 2020 pilot study by Monash researchers of 136 Australian Facebook users who donated ads to researchers for analysis.

The Monash study was funded by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network.

“Our goal is to foster a conversation about the need for public transparency in online advertising, which is transforming our media environment,” Professor Andrejevic said.

“With targeted advertising, there is a risk that society could lose the ability to form a shared understanding of current events, of political figures, of collective experiences if we are all receiving different messages.

“It’s a customised digital virtual reality where we get our own ‘secret’ messages invisible to others and now, more than ever, we are seeing the damage of people using social media to promulgate dangerous messages, particularly around COVID-19 and vaccines misinformation.”

The tool is available as a plugin for anyone to install on their web browser and does not collect any personally identifying information or anything that is not an ad.

It can be removed or disabled at any time, and has received ethics clearance.

For more information about the Australian Ad Observatory and how you can participate, visit here.

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AI, algorithms, and automation changing our media landscape

Brisbane city and river with a city cat travelling on the water

AI, algorithms, and automation changing our media landscape

Author Kathy Nickels
Date 29 September 2021

News and other media platforms in Australia and elsewhere face growing challenges from automated decision-making, but the future is not all bad say researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society gathering this week for a conference on the topic.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S) News and Media Research Symposium is an in-person and online event on 30 September and 1 October, hosted at the QUT Kelvin Grove campus.

Speakers include Professor Axel Bruns, an internationally renowned Internet researcher in QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre, who will present early findings of the Australian Search Experience project involving ADM+S researchers and the international research and advocacy organisation AlgorithmWatch.

The symposium will be launching the anticipated Australian Ad Observatory project led by Professor Mark Andrejevic (Monash University). The Australian Ad Observatory is investigating the potential harms of customised targeted advertising online. The project uses a data donation model to collect the ads that users are being served on Facebook.

Other topics being covered over the two days include news and automation, digital inclusion and media use in remote First Nations communities, Facebook advertising, automated content curation and moderation, and platform governance on matters relating to race, gender, and sexuality.

Professor Bruns said news and media was chosen as the first of four focus areas over the lifetime of the ADM+S Centre because automation, algorithms, and artificial intelligence already posed some crucial challenges for this industry, and that further research on these topics was urgently required.

“What we couldn’t have anticipated at the time was the extent to which acute events like the COVID-19 pandemic would raise the stakes in the battle against disinformation,” Professor Bruns said.

Along with Professor Bruns, other ADM+S-linked speakers include the Centre’s director Professor Julian Thomas (RMIT), Professor Jean Burgess (QUT), Professor Axel Bruns (QUT), Matthias Spielkamp (AlgorithmWatch),  Professor Wiebke Loosen (Hans Bredow Institute), Edson Tandoc Jr. (Nanyang Technological University), Dr Robyn Caplan (Data & Society), Russell Skelton (RMIT ABC Fact Check) Simon Elvery (ABC), Professor Mark Andrejevic (Monash University), Professor Daniel Angus (QUT), Professor Kath Albury (Swinburne University), Dr Timothy Graham (QUT), Professor Bronwyn Carlson (Macquarie University), Dr Rosalie Gillett (QUT) and Dr Jeffrey Chan (RMIT).

Joining the symposium, with expertise in their respective fields, are guest speakers Rasmus Kleis Nielsen (Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism), David Tomchak (Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford), Diat Alferink (Torres Strait Islander Media Association), and Dennis Stokes (First Nations Media Australia).

ADM+S was established in 2019 to investigate how rapidly emerging autonomous decision-making technologies, already replacing human judgement in health, social services, transport, and the media, are impacting on society.

Headquartered at RMIT, it connects researchers and other experts from nine Australian universities, and 22 academic and industry partner organisations from Australia, Europe, Asia and America.

See the full program and register to attend the symposium online at the ARC Centre of Excellence | Automated Decision Making | ADM+S (admscentre.org.au/researchsymposium).

Originally published as QUT Media release Media landscape now shaped by AI, algorithms, and automation

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Responsible health consumer data analysis and ADM

PROJECT SUMMARY

Lady sitting on coach talking to counsellor

Responsible health consumer data analysis and ADM

Focus Area: Health
Research Program: Data

Health care service providers are increasingly seeking to use advanced data analytics and automated decision making to improving services and for predictive insights. By better understanding the everyday experiences of people living with mental ill-health, for example, services can improve the allocation of resources and enhance health outcomes. Accessing health consumer voices and experiences directly through social data sets (such as online health forums) can have an important impact on optimising decision making, but also raises ethical issues and data management and analysis challenges.

Drawing on cutting edge practices in text data mining and NLP analysis, this project develops a model for ethical and responsible mental health consumer data analysis. It operationalises data partnerships and implements data analysis to improve healthcare work, with a focus on community mental health support, and ethical, inclusive and participatory practices.

RESEARCHERS

ADM+S Chief Investigator Anthony McCosker

Prof Anthony McCosker

Lead Investigator

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ADM+S Investigator Kath Albury

Prof Kath Albury

Associate Investigator

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Daniel Angus

Prof Dan Angus

Associate Investigator

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Jane Farmer

Prof Jane Farmer

Associate Investigator

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Peter Kamstra

Dr Peter Kamstra

Associate Investigator

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Yong-Bin Kang

Dr Yong-Bin Kang

Research Fellow

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PARTNERS

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Beyond Blue

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Infoxchange

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Reach Out

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SANE Australia

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Mapping the Public Conversation on ADM

PROJECT SUMMARY

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Mapping the Public Conversation on ADM

Focus Area(s): News & Media
Research Program: Data

The project maps the extent, qualities and diversity of conversations about automation and ADM in Australia and globally, using key social media data sources including Twitter and Facebook to collect posts and a wide range of media articles.

We bring together social media analytics with advanced computational text analysis and social network analysis to monitor and analyse the content, themes, platforms and actors involved in the mediated public conversation around ADM in Australia and beyond.

RESEARCHERS

ADM+S Associate Director Jean Burgess

Prof Jean Burgess

Lead Investigator

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Axel Bruns

Prof Axel Bruns

Chief Investigator

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Daniel Angus

Prof Dan Angus

Associate Investigator

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Ariadna Matamoros Fernandez profile picture

Dr Ariadna Matamoros-Fernández

Associate Investigator

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ADM+S professional staff Abdul Obeid

Abdul Obeid

Data Engineer

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Hybrid digital methods for detecting and managing problematic automated agents in social media

PROJECT SUMMARY

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Hybrid digital methods for detecting and managing problematic automated agents in social media

Focus Area(s): News & Media
Research Program: Data

Automated agents, known as bots are widely used on the internet to run automated tasks. Whilst some bots are designed to perform beneficial activities, others are created for malicious purposes. The inauthentic coordination of bot activities is problematic and threatens to undermine online environments. We have very little understanding of how bots and high-volume accounts are policed and moderated by users themselves, and what drives people to create bots (both beneficial and malicious).

This project brings together qualitative domain expertise in digital media and platform studies with data science and machine learning to evaluate and improve attempts to detect and deal with problematic automated agents (bots) in social media. It addresses the question of how bots are moderated and perceived by the community, across platforms Twitter and Reddit.

This project provides insights about the dynamics and ethical aspects of large-scale bot activity, through a controversy analysis of the “anus fungi” phenomenon. It also studies the motivations for bot creators and the different kinds of social roles that bots have in the online information ecosystem and will deliver validated methods and software tools to help track disinformation and coordinated inauthentic behaviour.

RESEARCHERS

ADM+S Investigator Timothy Graham

Dr Timothy Graham

Lead Investigator

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Axel Bruns

Prof Axel Bruns

Chief Investigator

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ADM+S Associate Director Jean Burgess

Prof Jean Burgess

Chief Investigator

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ADM+S Chief Investigator Nic Suzor

Prof Nicolas Suzor

Chief Investigator

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Daniel Angus

Prof Dan Angus

Associate Investigator

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A taxonomy of decision-making machines

PROJECT SUMMARY

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A taxonomy of decision-making machines

Focus Area(s): News and Media, Health, Social Services, Transport and Mobilities
Research Program: Machines

To date, no research exists that classifies the growing diversity of automated decision-making (ADM) machines or describes the relations between them. Instead, ADM systems are typically examined as distinct technologies in isolation from each other.

The project draws on the expertise within the Centre, together with published material, to develop an innovative three-dimensional taxonomy. It provides a categorisation of ADM that will support work across the Centre.

RESEARCHERS

ADM+S Chief Investigator Paul Henman

Prof Paul Henman

Lead Investigator

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ADM+S Chief Investigator Dan Hunter

Prof Dan Hunter

Chief Investigator

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ADM+S Chief Investigator Christopher Leckie

Prof Christopher Leckie

Chief Investigator

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ADM+S Chief Investigator Mark Sanderson

Prof Mark Sanderson

Chief Investigator

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Julian Thomas

Prof Julian Thomas

Chief Investigator

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Jeffrey Chan

Dr Jeffrey Chan

Associate Investigator

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ADM+S Investigator Philip Gillingham

Dr Philip Gillingham

Associate Investigator

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ADM+S Associate Investigator Jake Goldenfein

Dr Jake Goldenfein

Associate Investigator

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ADM+S Investigator Flora Salim

Prof Flora Salim

Associate Investigator

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PARTNERS

AlgorithmWatch logo

AlgorithmWatch
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Data and Society logo

Data & Society
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Infrastructures, ADM and sovereign capability

PROJECT SUMMARY

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Infrastructures, ADM and sovereign capability

Focus Area(s): News and Media
Research Program: Data

This project examines the relationship between telecommunications infrastructure and automated decision-making (ADM) as new infrastructures, such as 5G and Wi-Fi 6, support the intensification of ADM. A key focus is on the collection and distribution of data that shapes the deployment and use of ADM in Australia and China.

It also investigates how China came to be one of the dominant suppliers of critical ADM infrastructure and the strategic implications of this on supply chains and sovereign capabilities.

RESEARCHERS

James Meese profile picture

Dr James Meese

Lead Investigator

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ADM+S Investigator Rowan Wilken

Assoc Prof Rowan Wilken

Chief Investigator

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ADM+S Investigator Haiqing Yu

Assoc Prof Haiqing Yu

Associate Investigator

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The Automated Newsroom in Australia and beyond: Problems and challenges in the use of automated decision-making systems in journalistic practice

PROJECT SUMMARY

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The Automated Newsroom in Australia and beyond: Problems and challenges in the use of automated decision-making systems in journalistic practice

Focus Area(s): News and Media
Research Program: People

Automated decision-making (ADM) and related systems are now widely implemented in global newsrooms. These systems have substantial impacts on the nature and quality of journalistic output, on the shape of the newsroom workforce, and on audiences’ engagement with news content.

This project investigates current developments in journalistic practice by conducting in-depth interviews with news workers, including journalists, social media editors, developers, programmers, computer scientists, graphic designers and social media marketing staff.

These interviews will focus on four areas of the journalistic workflow:

  • Systems to generate automated news reporting,
  • The use of news metrics from outlets and social media platforms in the editorial tasking of journalists and in the personalisation/ recommendation of content to audiences,
  • The use of data visualisation in journalistic storytelling and use of algorithmic methods, designs, and audits in investigative journalism, and
  • ADM practices to contend with the mis-and disinformation actors and environments.

This research will provide insights into the technological infrastructures and practices in the implementation of automated decision-making systems in news and media industries in Australia, and potentially with a further extension of the research approach to other media systems in the Global South.

RESEARCHERS

Axel Bruns, Chief Investigator with the ADM+S Centre

Prof Axel Bruns

Lead Investigator

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ADM+S Chief Investigator Heather Horst

Prof Heather Horst

Chief Investigator

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Dr Silvia Montaña-Niño profile picture

Dr Silvia Ximena Montana-Nino

Chief Investigator

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Decentering ADM: A Review of Automated Decision-Making in the Global South

PROJECT SUMMARY

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Decentering ADM: A Review of Automated Decision-Making in the Global South

Focus Area(s): News and Media, Social Services, Health, Transport and Mobilities
Research Program: People

This project is a review of the current state of ADM implementation, practices and visions in different regions in the Global South. It includes an analysis of academic and grey literature, online resources and interviews with key stakeholders in four underrepresented regions (Latin America, Anglophone Africa, South and Southeast Asia and Pacific Island Archipelagos).

Our focus upon decentering ADM works to challenge dominant narratives of the discourse, practice and adoption of ADM across the world.

RESEARCHERS

ADM+S Chief Investigator Heather Horst

Prof Heather Horst

Lead Investigator

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Edgar Gómez Cruz

Dr Edgar Gómez Cruz

Associate Investigator

Adam Sargent

Dr Adam Sargent

Associate Investigator

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Jolynna Sinanan

Dr Jolynna Sinanan

Associate Investigator

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Assessing the Personalisation of Search Results from Major Recommendation Engines

PROJECT SUMMARY

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Assessing the Personalisation of Search Results from Major Recommendation Engines

Focus Area(s): News and Media
Research Program: Data

There is a lot of speculation about the impact that search engines have on the information we encounter. Search engine personalisation may be influencing individuals’ search results, and thereby shape what they know of the world. This may affect their personal decisions, and our collective decisions as a society – from how we spend our money or who we vote for to our attitudes on critical issues such as the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

This research aims to assess the extent to which search results are personalised, by various leading search engines and their algorithms, based on the profiles established by those search engines for their different users. It compiles and analyses the search recommendations encountered by a wide range of genuine users across prominent digital media platforms, for a variety of generic and specific topics, and over a period of time.

This research advances earlier experimental work by our partner organisation AlgorithmWatch, using ‘data donation’ methods via browser plugins and other tools, to involve the public in the research. This research evaluates the potential social impacts of search personalisation, including its potential for creating ‘filter bubbles’, promoting misinformation and disinformation or increasing political polarisation. Findings from this project will inform policymakers, educators, and the platforms themselves to mitigate any negative effects of information shaping online.

PARTICIPATE

Become a citizen scientist and join the Australian Search Experience project

When you use a search engine, do you see the same results as your colleagues, friends, or family do? If not, why is that? Are search results personalised especially for you? If so, what are the criteria? Which topics do search engines suggest to you and other users?

We want to find out. With your help.

To participate in this project visit The Australian Search Experience webpage

RESEARCHERS

Axel Bruns, Chief Investigator with the ADM+S Centre

Prof Axel Bruns

Lead Investigator

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Mark Andrejevic

Prof Mark Andrejevic

Chief Investigator

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ADM+S Associate Director Jean Burgess

Prof Jean Burgess

Chief Investigator

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ADM+S Chief Investigator Nic Suzor

Prof Nicolas Suzor

Chief Investigator

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Kimberlee Weatherall

Prof Kimberlee Weatherall

Chief Investigator

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Daniel Angus

Prof Dan Angus

Associate Investigator

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ADM+S Investigator Timothy Graham

Dr Timothy Graham

Associate Investigator

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Ariadna Matamoros Fernandez profile picture

Dr Ariadna Matamoros-Fernández

Associate Investigator

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ADM+S Investigator James Meese

Dr James Meese

Associate Investigator

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ADM+S Chief Investigator Falk Scholer

Prof Falk Scholer

Associate Investigator

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ADM+S Investigator Damiano Spina

Dr Damiano Spina

Associate Investigator

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PARTNERS

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ARC Future Fellowships awarded to ADM+S researchers

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ARC Future Fellowships awarded to ADM+S researchers

Author Kathy Nickels
Date 12 August 2021

Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S) have been awarded ARC Future Fellowships with over three million dollars of funding to support research projects that tackle issues of national priority.

ARC Future Fellowships reflects the Australian Government’s commitment to excellence in research by supporting excellent mid-career researchers to undertake high-quality research in areas of national and international benefit.

ADM+S Future Fellowship recipients:

The breadth of issues that these research projects address demonstrates the cross-disciplinary strengths of the ADM+S Centre.

“We’re delighted by the successes of our ADM+S colleagues in the ARC’s 2021 Future Fellowship round”, said Centre Director Julian Thomas.

“The Future Fellowship scheme plays a vital role in supporting Australia’s next generation of research leaders. Our Centre benefits enormously from the extraordinary work these scholars are doing in illuminating both the positive social possibilities and the hazards of our increasingly connected lives.”

Professor Albury’s research will engage young adult users of digital apps and social platforms with sexual health policy-makers and professionals to develop knowledge-translation resources for sexual health professionals. These resources will be designed to better help engage with young adult’s everyday practices of digitally mediated intimacy, in the context of broader understandings of content moderation and regulation, platform governance, data privacy and data security.

Associate Professor Harpur will be seeking ways to increase the employment rate of Australians with a disability. His research aims to drive advances in scholarship on ableism, informed policy reform, and transferable operational processes for the education and employment sectors, to improve the transition of people with disabilities to work.

Professor Suzor aims to find legal, ethical, technical, and commercial opportunities to counter inequality online. His project will use machine learning and custom data collection tools to create new knowledge about how digital platforms—including search engines, social media, peer economy, and news platforms—can help to tackle misogyny, racism, and other forms of structural discrimination.

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Why smart home devices need a feminist reboot

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Why smart home devices need a feminist reboot

Author Kathy Nickels
Date 4 August 2021

In a recent interview on “Talks at Google”, ADM+S researchers Yolande Strengers and Jenny Kennedy discuss their book “The Smart Wife: Why Siri, Alexa, and Other Smart Home Devices Need a Feminist”.

Speaking with moderator Jan Schneider, Yolande and Jenny point out that the design of gendered devices reinscribes outdated and unfounded stereotypes and the impacts of advanced technology design on gender equity.

They propose a rebooted Smart Wife that would promote a revaluing of femininity in technology design and society.

Watch the interview here

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How the monetisation of personal metrics is leading to an individualist journalism

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How the monetisation of personal metrics is leading to an individualist journalism

Author Kathy Nickels
Date 2 August 2021

In this opinion piece published on The MediumSilvia Montaña-Niño discusses how the use of engagement metrics and incentive models in newsrooms are leading to a profound shift in newsworkers’ professional identities and the way that a journalist works. This article identifies several factors that are driving journalists towards an individualist journalism model and highlights the problems with monetising newsroom metrics in relation to journalism for the interest of the public and positioning journalists as influencers.

Dr Montaña-Niño says that “incentive models that are based on journalists’ abilities to entertain and engage as part of their branding routines entrench what many researchers have described as an ‘identity dilemma’”. She proposes that “journalists have moved from keeping their traditional professional image and understanding these metrics as mere means for assessing their engagement with and personal connection to the audience on social media, and towards using those metrics as a tool in designing an individual commercial strategy”.

Listen to the ADM+S Podcast episode

Read the full article here

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Citizen science project explores search engine secrets

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Citizen science project explores search engine secrets

Author Kathy Nickels
Date 26 July 2021

Do search engines influence you more than you think? Now is your chance to help researchers find out.

In 2020, Google processed more than 3.5 billion searches a day – and Forbes Magazine reports that most people see search engines as the most trusted source of information. But not all searches produce the same results.

Search engines adjust their recommendations to suit our interests. The big question is how such personalisation can influence our decisions on anything from where to holiday to whether we get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The new Australian Search Experience project aims to find out. It invites Australian Internet users to join the project as citizen scientists, and download a simple browser plugin to their computer. To install the plugin, simply go to https://staging.admscentre.org.au/searchexperience/ and follow the instructions.

The plugin runs regular searches for common search terms, and reports the results back to the research project. Across thousands of participants, these individual data donations produce a comprehensive picture of what search results different Australians encounter. The plugin won’t transmit any private data at any time.

The project is a partnership between researchers from Australian universities within the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making + Society (ADM+S) and the international research and advocacy organisation AlgorithmWatch.

Chief investigator Professor Axel Bruns, an internationally renowned Internet researcher in the ADM+S Centre and QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre awarded an Australian Laureate Fellowship earlier this month, said the project explores whether search engines have the potential to create ‘filter bubbles’ or to promote misinformation and disinformation.

“There is a lot of speculation about the impact search engines have on the information we encounter. But we really know very little about how they order and display that information,” said Professor Bruns, whose most recent book is Are Filter Bubbles Real?

“Search engine personalisation may be influencing your search results and consequently shaping what you know of the world. This can affect personal decisions as well as collective decisions as a society – from how we spend our money to who we vote for, and to our attitudes on critical issues like the safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

“If you wonder why your search results may differ from those of a friend, colleague or family member, then we’d like you to participate in this project.

“Modern digital news and media platforms use automated decision-making systems intensively, but rarely reveal how their systems work. We need a way to independently assess the recommendations of search engines, which is why we are running this citizen science project.”

Professor Bruns said the Australian Search Experience project would study the personalisation of search results for critical news and information, across key platforms including Google and YouTube, based on the profiles these platforms establish for their different users.

“The project will provide an independent assessment of how search engines shape the flow of information and public discourse for Australians. We will regularly share our findings with the public,” he said.

“To become a citizen scientist contributing to the project, users just need to install the browser plugin on their computer. Detailed instructions are available at https://staging.admscentre.org.au/searchexperience/.

“As part of the process, participants will be asked for some basic demographic details, but nothing that can be used to re-identify individuals. The searches will all happen in the background with minimal disruption to the users, and the plugin does not capture any private data.”

Visit www.admscentre.org.au/searchexperience for more information, and to join the project.

 

Chief Investigators: Mark Andrejevic, Axel Bruns, Jean Burgess, Nic Suzor, Kimberlee Weatherall.

Associate Investigators: Daniel Angus, Timothy Graham, Ariadna Matamoros-Fernández, James Meese, Falk Scholar, and Damiano Spina

References:

Adapted from QUT Media release: Citizen science project explores search engine secrets

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How sexual consent can help us design better technology

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How sexual consent can help us design better technology

Author Kathy Nickels
Date 9 July 2021

In this opinion piece published by ABC online news, Jathan Sadowski and Yolande Strangers discuss consent in the context of technological interactions. Based on their recently published research, they argue that the “tech industry needs to go beyond consent events that focus on obtaining one-time, “yes” or “no” consent at the start of a technological interaction, such as during product sign-up”.

They propose an alternative model, inspired by sexual consent best practices from the BDSM community — bondage, domination, submission, masochism — which has been at the forefront of not only understanding but implementing consent as an open dialogue, rather than a single decision.

This opinion piece explains how best practices from the BDSM community — soft/hard limits, safewords, traffic lights, and aftercare —can be applied to make consentful tech by rethinking and redesigning human interactions with internet-connected things like smart fridges and voice assistants.

Read the full article here

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ADM+S researcher awarded Australian Laureate Fellowship

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ADM+S researcher awarded Australian Laureate Fellowship

Source QUT media
Date 7 July 2021

Leader of the ADM+S News and Media Focus Area, Professor Axel Bruns has been awarded an Australian Laureate Fellowship.

Announced today (7 July) by Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge, Professor Axel Bruns from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre will receive $3,518,080 from the Australian Research Council (ARC) for his project Determining the Drivers and Dynamics of Partisanship and Polarisation in Online Public Debate.

Professor Bruns said escalating partisanship and polarisation, particularly via online and social media platforms, presented an urgent challenge for western democracies including Australia and a threat to cybersecurity worldwide.

The five-year Laureate Fellowship project will conduct the first-ever assessment of the extent and dynamics of polarisation in the contemporary online and social media environments of six nations – Australia, the US, the UK, Germany, Denmark, and Switzerland.

“We aim to enable an urgently needed defence of our society and democracy against the challenges of polarisation,” said Professor Bruns, a recognised world leader in media, communication, and journalism studies, with a particular focus on the evolution of online communication practices.

“Polarisation intensifies social conflicts, threatens economic prosperity, undermines public trust, and ultimately destabilises societies. Such instability can be exploited by domestic extremists or foreign influence campaigns to weaken sovereign states.

“Australia has so far been less affected than other leading democracies, but we are not immune to creeping polarisation and subsequent destabilisation. We must understand the threats we face.

“By developing the evidence base for the dynamics of polarisation in news coverage, audience engagement, public discourse, and social networks, we will identify avenues for avoiding and reducing it in Australian society, safeguarding national cohesion.

“Much recent debate still looks for the drivers of polarisation in all the wrong places. Such perspectives see platform algorithms as creating ‘echo chambers’ or ‘filter bubbles’ that lock users into partisan communities with diametrically opposed views and ideologies.

But as I showed in my recent book Are Filter Bubbles Real?, this ignores the fact that even extremely polarised groups follow mainstream debate very closely and in fact exploit the very absence of echo chambers to maximise the reach of their messaging.”

References:

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It’s complicated: Australian media firms were breaking up with Facebook long before the infamous 2021 news blackout

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It’s complicated: Australian media firms were breaking up with Facebook long before the infamous 2021 news blackout

Author Kathy Nickels
Date 28 June 2021

In an article published in The Conversation, James Meese (Associate Investigator at ADM+S), Edward Hurcombe (QUT) and Franscesco Bailo (University of Technology, Sydney) share their findings from their recent peer-reviewed research about the impacts of Facebook’s algorithmic distribution on Australian news media.

Based on a data set of 2 million unique posts, from January 1 2014 to December 15 2020, this article clearly demonstrates a decline in Facebook news engagement since 2014-16.

The authors conclude that “news media outlets can no longer rely on Facebook for easy engagement and audience growth. Whether by choice or necessity, they are already courting readers elsewhere.”

Read the full article here

Read the research paper here

Listen to the ADM+S Podcast Facebook ‘Unfriends’ Australian News.

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The Automated Decision-Making and Society Podcast Series Has Launched

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The Automated Decision-Making and Society Podcast Series Has Launched

Author Kathy Nickels
Date 28 June 2021

A new podcast series from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S) features insights from researchers and industry experts on the potential and unseen impacts of automated decision-making on society. The series is available on our website, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts.

Utopian visions of automated decision-making (ADM) promise new levels of personalisation, control and choice in our future lives. Yet, we still know very little about how automated services are really being incorporated, re-invented or resisted as part of everyday lives. Automation has great potential benefits, but it can also create serious new risks to human rights and welfare.

This insightful and thought-provoking series features conversations with researchers and practitioners who are creating the knowledge and strategies necessary for responsible, ethical, and inclusive automated decision-making.

The initial series explores the impacts of automation in news and media. The topics range from search personalisation, the spread of conspiracy theories; to the influence of metrics and algorithms on journalism, and the Facebook news ban.

This podcast series was created to spotlight the unseen social, cultural and institutional issues created by the rapid growth of technologies and automated decision-making systems in our society.

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Professor Julian Thomas, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society says that research across the Centre has the potential to shape policy and practice for governments, industry and non-profit sectors.

“A major priority of the Centre is to enhance public understanding and inform public debate on automated decision-making,” said Professor Thomas.

“This podcast series provides a great way for people to learn more about the current, critical problems we’re confronting in relation to automation and digital services”.

This series features national and international experts from industry and research in the fields of humanities, social and technological sciences. With informative discussions on the rapid expansion of automated decision-making, our experts discuss the issues associated with ADM and what we can do about them.

Listen to the Podcast now on the ADM+S website, Spotify, or Apple Podcasts

We’d like to thank Brooke Myler for her work in developing this series during her internship at the ARC Centre of Excellence for ADM+S.

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ADM+S video highlights research in news and media focus area

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ADM+S video highlights research in news and media focus area

Author Kathy Nickels
Date 9 June 2021

The News & Media Focus Area at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making + Society (ADM+S) is one of four Focus Areas of the Centre. The News & Media Focus Area investigates the uses and impacts of automated decision-making in news work, social media platforms, and the digital media and communication environment more broadly.

In this video, researchers from the Centre’s News & Media focus area discuss the rapid progression of automated decision-making technologies in news and digital media environments, the impacts on society, and the ADM+S projects that will investigate the influence of automated decision-making on the news and media experiences of real users.

Watch the full video here

The ADM+ has four cross-centre Focus Areas: News and Media, Transport and Mobility, Health, and Social Services. The Focus Areas provide material for many of the empirical investigations within the ADM+S Centre, and they ensure our research is directed towards engagement, translation and outcomes in exemplary and essential sectors.

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