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The future isn’t coming. It’s already here. Together, we’ll make sure it’s a good one.

Advanced robotics, smart grids, autonomous cars, machine learning. Cyber-physical systems are literally all around us—systems that, as they converge, will have an unprecedented economic, social and cultural impact on humanity.

So, what do we humans do now?

We develop a new branch of engineering to ensure the responsible use of Ai. We push Ai into a new realm, to tackle Ai’s questions from all different angles. And we create a new school where those questions can be asked. 3Ai is that school. Founded and led by Distinguished Professor Genevieve Bell at the Australian National University's College of Engineering and Computer Science. 3Ai was created to enable the safe, ethical and effective design, integration, management and regulation of cyber-physical systems.

So that as technology advances, humanity advances with it.

Join us in keeping the humanity in technology.


In 2016, the World Economic Forum suggested we were entering the 4th wave of industrialisation; one characterised by cyber-physical systems—an era that will undoubtedly result in significant economic, social and cultural shifts for we humans. At 3Ai, we recognise that this new era demands new ways of thinking.

Building a new intellectual approach is critical—and a large part of finding the answers we seek is by ensuring we’re asking the right questions. As such, our research centres around the questions we should ask of cyber-physical systems. We were established with the 3 A’s— and since then we have been exploring three more. As we discover and develop our research we expect that to change again!



As the ability for machines to act independently of human oversight increases with each new tech breakthrough, conversations need to be had about how much agency we give to intelligent cyber-physical systems. Are we comfortable with machines responding to their environment, and interacting with other machines, without a human to check and validate decisions?



This is both a technical set of questions and a philosophical and public policy set of questions. Just because we can automate something, should we? When we translate human processes into machine processes, what do we need to consider?



Current technological progress calls for new regulatory tools and processes, as algorithms designed in different places 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.



Technical systems have typically been measured on their efficiency. However, when systems start to learn and change their behaviour over time, the objective of efficiency may begin to clash with ideals that have previously been implicitly or tacitly inserted into the process by the humans in the loop. How do we start to conceptualise building for sustainability, for beauty, for values?



In previous decades, we interfaced with computational systems through a screen and a keyboard. This paradigm is already being disrupted as ‘smart’ objects enter our lives. What will it mean when AI-enabled systems are all around us, sensing and responding to us? How do we protect our privacy? What happens to all that data?


why has the system been constructed? By whom? And for what purposes?

It is sometimes tempting to think of a single, monolithic AI. However, AIs will be built for different purposes and with very different intentionality, and inside different larger systems. Making sense of, and mapping, that broader intentionality is central to the emergent new branch of engineering.

You can find a showcase of our thinking in Distinguished Professor Genevieve Bell’s public lectures.
Watch them on YouTube: ANU 3A Institute YouTube channel and the ANU TV 3A Institute Playlist.



The network of The Social Network
Andrew Leong, Group Manager - TPM at Facebook

FRI 20 MAR, 2:30PM
Engineering Lecture Theatre, Engineering Building #32, Australian National University

Presented by the 3A Institute and the Research School of Electrical, Energy and Materials Engineering.

The network infrastructure required to support Facebook's level of service is one of the largest and most complex in the world. This talk will walk through the technologies that underpin Facebook’s network infrastructure to enable a connected world. ...read more



Rossum’s Universal Robots (R.U.R)
Play Adaptation by the 3A Institute

Questacon, King Edward Terrace, Parkes

In 1920, Czech playwright Karel Capek published a play that introduced the world to the word ‘robot’, and provided the blueprint for humanoid robots in popular culture throughout the 20th century. This year, to commemorate 100 years of its history, 3Ai is hosting a one-off performance of its own version of R.U.R (Rossum’s Universal Robots), featuring special guests. ...read more




Latest Articles

Celebrating 100 years of the 'robot': a new version of R.U.R by 3Ai

Blog by Ellen Broad, Charlotte Bradley and Genevieve Bell In 1920, Czech playwright Karel Čapek published a play that introduced the world to the word 'robot', and provided the blueprint for humanoid robots in popular culture throughout the 20th century.

A taste of life as a 3Ai Masters student: Homework #1

In 2020, 3Ai is excited to be back in the classroom with a new cohort of Masters students, teaching a new branch of engineering into existence. How would you like to play along at home? We are trying something different this year and giving you a little glimpse of life as a 3Ai student.

Responsibility to a beautiful land and its peoples

I was so honoured to be recognised with an Order of Australia in this year’s Australia Day Awards. I see it as a big responsibility. An Order of Australia is a recognition of services to this nation, and for me it is also a call to action to support and welcome and bring forward into conversation the many and varied voices in this country.

3Ai 2019 student showcase: building a new branch of engineering

On 21 November 2019, Global CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella, along with a delegation from the Australian leadership at Microsoft, visited the 3A Institute at the Australian National University.

3Ai did #lca2020 (and we'll be back in 2021)

By Zac Hatfield-Dodds, Kathy Reid, Amy McLennan In January 2020, three members of the 3Ai team headed to linux.conf.au (LCA) to meet new people, reconnect with friends, and learn from the Australasian Linux and Open Source community. The conference is run entirely by volunteers, and has been going since 1999, and yes - it's named after the URL.

Reflecting on 2 years of the 3A Institute

By 3Ai Director, Distinguished Professor Genevieve Bell The 3A Institute at the Australian National University is 2 years this week. That means we are already two years into our mission to establish a new branch of engineering to manage artificial intelligence safely to scale. WOW!



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There are many ways to engage with the 3A Institute: our Masters program, masterclasses, and our case study research.

Masters Program

The 3Ai Master of Applied Cybernetics is the world’s first graduate program focusing on the challenges of taking intelligent cyber-physical systems safely to scale. Led by 3Ai founder, Distinguished Professor Genevieve Bell, at the Australian National University's College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Master program builds knowledge through participatory learning experiences and iterative curriculum design. Our Masters students are involved in a prototype to guide and accelerate a new branch of engineering into existence. 3Ai provides a platform for this research to reach a broader audience and shape the direction of a future driven by cyber-physical systems.

Current students of the Master of Applied Cybernetics program are soon to finish, with our second cohort due to commence in February 2020.

Applications for the 2021 program open in May 2020.

Case Study Research

We are constantly iterating our curriculum based on our observations of existing and emergent AI-driven systems, in a range of sectors, places and stages of development.

Some examples of our cyber-physical system case studies include:

  • Building new technology into old cities, and how this transforms the space that we live and work in.
  • The future of autonomous mining in Australia.
  • Policy and regulation of data, AI and autonomy in Europe, and a comparison with other global contexts.
  • The arts sector and how it changes the community conversation and shapes how the corporate world creates.
  • Analysing the design of sand-sea-sky autonomous systems for reef monitoring, exploring the systems within systems that humans and technology have with the marine environment.

Are you interested in collaborating with 3Ai? Contact us. [Link to CONTACT page]


3Ai offers masterclasses targeted to a range of people and organisations based on our ethos and learnings. If you are interested in being involved in our Masterclass series, please contact us.

Contact Us

The 3A Institute is hosted in the College of Engineering and Computer Science at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.

Please use the contact form to get in touch or call us on +61 2 6125 8551

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It will help us ensure equity of access for students thereby ensuring diversity in the AI conversation.