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What kind of future do we want to create?

The pace of change of emerging science and technology is creating complex issues for societies and their decision-makers.

How we respond to the significant challenges presented by innovation in science and technology will be the focus of a new partnership announced today between CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, along with The University of Queensland, The Australian National University and Charles Darwin University.

As cutting-edge research in areas like synthetic biology, robotics, precision health, hydrogen and artificial intelligence work to solve the greatest challenges facing Australia, this new partnership will bring leading researchers and scientists from across the nation’s innovation system to further our understanding of the challenges for society that are emerging from the development of these new areas of science.

CSIRO’s Responsible Innovation Initiative is a five-year, $5.75 million investment aligned closely to CSIRO’s Future Science Platforms that has been created to drive innovation in science and technology, along with the ability to reinvent and create new industries for Australia.

“We recognise that future science and technology provide significant opportunities to benefit our lives, but these are not without their own set of ethical, social and regulatory challenges,” CSIRO Responsible Innovation Initiative research director Dr Justine Lacey said.

If left unresolved, these challenges can hinder the progress and innovation required for this science to deliver benefits to society and to future generations.

Responsible Innovation asks us about the kind of future we want to create and determines how we are going to achieve it, while ensuring we design and deliver socially responsible science and technology for all Australians, Dr Lacey said.

Over the next five years, these collaborations will appoint five jointly funded postdoctoral fellows to examine emerging science and applications associated with synthetic biology, precision health, hydrogen, artificial intelligence, Indigenous futures and other areas of innovation as they arise.

The University of Queensland’s Provost Professor Aidan Byrne said the collaboration will enable the development of new approaches that take all aspects of the innovation cycle into account.

This collaboration allows us to examine and develop new policy and regulatory responses to new and emerging technological innovations, Professor Byrne said.

Getting the right policy settings is important as this encourages, supports and shapes innovation to achieve economic, social and cultural objectives simultaneously.

By embedding responsible innovation into future science and technology, new researchers will also have an opportunity to gain new skills and capability in this emerging area of research.

These collaborations provide the perfect opportunity for us to continue to build on our capability of delivering responsible, trusted and innovative science, while attracting a new generation of researchers to work on delivering responsible breakthrough science and technology, Dr Lacey said.

It will also lead to improved science delivery across the national innovation system.

This national collaboration builds on strengths at The Australian National University in social sciences and science engagement to re-imagine responsible innovation as a framework for doing better science, Professor Joan Leach, Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science director, said.

Responsible Innovation will also provide an opportunity to realise the full potential of the value of integrative science, incorporating Indigenous knowledge with new approaches to innovation.

Northern Australia’s future will be a place of disruption and innovation that will bring ancient and contemporary knowledge traditions together with new approaches to business, technologies and livelihoods, Professor Bogdan Dlugogorski, Charles Darwin University deputy vice-chancellor and vice president of research and innovation, said.

This collaboration is an investment in Indigenous-partnered approaches to innovation and change that help us all invest in ethical, sustainable and exciting ways of thinking and working.

We are proud to partner in this work and look forward to being challenged as researchers and institutions who are committed to realising the potential of responsible innovation and Indigenous leadership.”

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