Universities aim to boost ties between tech and society

Universities aim to boost ties between tech and society

Recently, the Federal Government announced new funding for universities’ research ventures with the aim of fostering economic growth and social good.

With these aims in mind, Flinders University is participating in a program to advance medical research and technology.

Biomedical engineering experts from Flinders University’s Medical Device Research Institute (MDRI) will be joining the new Australian Research Council’s Training Centre for Medical Implant Technologies (ARC CMIT), which is funded by the ARC Industrial Transformation Research Program.

Specifically, the ARC CMIT will look into personalised orthopaedic and maxillofacial solutions as well as train PhD students and early career researchers. The Centre will bring in 18 partners from various sectors to develop the best practices and implant solutions.

“The training centre will equip a new generation of engineers to work with clinicians, to have a good understanding of regulations and gain experience in entrepreneurship and innovation,” ARC CMIT director and Melbourne University School of Engineering Professor Peter Lee said.

“Compared to other Australian industries, med-tech is young, so the opportunity for research and development is great. CMIT is one of the largest partnerships of industry, hospitals and universities; an ideal environment for training.”

Prior to partnering with ARC CMIT, Flinders University’s Strategic Professor of Biomedical Engineering Mark Taylor said MDRI already has strong industry and clinical community links to support their students and researchers.

This new venture, Professor Taylor noted, will provide even more opportunities for researchers and students as MDRI will be employing one post-doc and offer five PhD stipends under the Centre.

“The Flinders Medical Device Research Institute is a leader in computational and experimental biomechanics, working closely with industry and other research organisations in the development of personalised models, virtual clinical trials and decision support,” Professor Taylor said.

The other way around

While most universities are looking into how technology can advance various aspects of society, the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) wants to look into how it can integrate human touch into the future of technology

The QUT will be supporting the Australian Academy of the Humanities by hosting the Humanising the Future symposium this week.

Humanities experts from Australia and overseas such as the US, France, and UK will convene to discuss the intersection between culture and technological advances in South Brisbane on 13-15 November.

Professor Jean Burgess, QUT’s director for Digital media Research Centre said automation and artificial intelligence have already found their way into not only the everyday lives of individuals, but also into various institutions.

This makes it more urgent for the University to discuss how inclusivity and fairness can exist in the digital world, he said.

“[W]e need to get beyond critiquing such developments from the sidelines,” Professor Burgess –who was also named as the associate director and chief investigator of the $31.8m ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society – said.

“To date, there have been very few large-scale, well-resourced initiatives to address how this shift is playing out in the real world, beyond abstract ‘AI and ethics’ efforts, which are often driven and funded by technologists rather than humanists.”

Through the ARC Centre, Professor Burgess said participants can “work with other disciplines and with a range of industry and civil society partners at scale and over time, to help create a more responsible, inclusive and fair digital society.”

“This is a future that we can play a role in shaping, but we have to be proactive, and we have to collaborate,” he said.