In 2016, the World Economic Forum suggested we were entering the 4th wave of industrialisation; one characterised
by cyber-physical systems. These systems will rely on the mainstreaming of the Internet of Things,
Big Data, and Machine Learning. This new Era could result in significant economic, social and cultural
At the ANU we also recognise that this new Era, like those that came before, will necessitate new ways
of thinking, doing and making. Building a new intellectual approach is critical. The 3A Institute
seeks to do just this. We are researching a set of critical questions around Autonomy, Agency and
Assurance for cyber-physical systems. We are also exploring the metrics by which we will measure
the success of these systems, and the possible interface(s) between humans and CPS.
How do we think about the notion of autonomy and how do we build for it?
This is both a technical set of questions and a philosophical and public policy set of questions.
The notion that we are building autonomous systems that make decisions and possibly affect their
surroundings without our involvement has complex implications in terms of liability and responsibility.
Beyond the technical challenge of building truly autonomous systems lie complex ethical questions
that the 3A Institute will tackle.
What degree of ‘self’ empowerment do we give autonomous systems?
Conversations are unfolding globally about the degree of independence to give to autonomous and semiautonomous
systems and how we envision our lives and interactions in a social context shared between AIs
We need to explore whether we are confident with AIs acting and interacting autonomously on our behalves
in a range of fields. The 3A Institute will drive a broad range of conversations with stakeholders
across sectors to identify challenges and opportunities.
Will these systems be safe?
Current technological progress calls for new regulatory tools and processes, as algorithms designed
globally are introduced into societies around the world. The virtual nature of these new goods
and services has an impact on our ability to regulate their design and use in a way that aligns
with core cultural values
We have the opportunity to shape the future of our societies as we transition from a concrete, machine-powered
world to one that will increasingly revolve around Big Data and powerful, autonomous cyber-physical