Keynote: Human priorities, machine decisions?

Dr Erica Thompson is one of our keynote speakers, discussing the uses of mathematical models for decision support and the associated inherent social value judgements.

Event details

When: 9-10am, Friday 17 November 2023

Where: Kaleide RMIT Union Theatre, Melbourne

Human priorities, machine decisions? Limitations of using mathematical models for decision support

One way of interacting with possible uncertain futures is through the use of mathematical models to construct and visualise different kinds of outcomes and counterfactuals. Dr Erica Thompson will discuss the uses of mathematical models for decision support in contexts including pandemic response and climate change adaptation, emphasising the social value judgements that are inherent in model construction, calibration, and use. Erica will then look at how increasingly mathematised approaches to decision-making obscure these value judgements, and consider the implications for automated decision-making, autonomous systems, and “artificial intelligence”. She will outline her view on the limitations to the use of AI and more broadly the proper role of mathematical modelling in support of a future that we wish to have some agency over and not simply predict.

Erica prefers to reduce her carbon footprint by not flying to conferences. Instead, she will join the Symposium via a live video link.

About the speaker

Dr Erica Thompson is an Associate Professor of Modelling for Decision Making at the University College London’s Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy.




Join us on 16 and 17 November for our 54th Annual Academy Symposium — Between humans & machines: exploring the pasts and futures of automation — as we explore the possibilities and hazards of automation, and the complexities of human-machine relations.

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Acknowledgement of Country

The Australian Academy of the Humanities recognises Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the traditional owners and custodians of this land, and their continuous connection to country, community and culture.