The Future

IoT turbo-charged by AI, advanced robotics, automated vehicles incorporating sensing data with other datasets, powerful big data analytics like machine learning driving automated decision-making. The collection of technologies we are currently calling artificial intelligence (AI) is heralding the next industrial revolution. We are now seeing their rapid convergence into systems – cyber-physical systems – that will have unprecedented impact on humanity through deep economic, social and cultural shifts.

To face challenges like these head on, the ANU strategic plan outlines the need for new education models and new pathways towards commercial and social applications for ANU research, via structures adjacent to established research and teaching programs. Distinguished Professor Genevieve Bell was appointed the first of the new ANU Entrepreneurial Fellows and founded the 3A Institute in 2017 on these principles.

After 20 years as a techno-anthropologist in Silicon Valley, Genevieve returned home with the conviction that the world needs a new applied science to enable the safe, ethical and effective design, integration, management and regulation of cyber-physical systems.

We need this applied science now. Creating it in an accelerated timeframe is the 3A Institute’s mission.

The 3A Institute is a strategic initiative of the ANU Visit the ANU strategic initiatives page

3Ai PostGraduate Courses

Inspired by Silicon Valley-style rapid and iterative prototyping, the 3Ai team is developing a radical curriculum of postgraduate courses to inform the creation of this new applied science.

The challenge that cyber-physical systems present our society calls for skills development that will profoundly disrupt the educational environment. In 2019 we are challenging the status quo with an experimental, immersive year-long curriculum of postgraduate courses. And we are now seeking a select few student participants to come on the journey with us.

Applications have now closed. The pilot cohort will commence in February 2019.

Click here to sign up to receive updates on the program and other announcements.


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 shifts.

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 and humans.

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 systems.



Founding Partners

The 3A Institute is co-founded by the Australian National University and CSIRO's Data61.


The 2019 Pilot of the 3Ai Master’s program receives financial support from KPMG, Macquarie and Microsoft.

Interested in partnering with 3Ai? 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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