Between humans & machines: exploring the pasts & futures of automation

Since the late eighteenth century, the changing ‘machinery question’ has continued to spark deep social divisions and to stimulate new fields of imaginative thinking, creative speculation, and social and cultural enquiry (including political economy, cybernetics, STS, AI ethics, critical data studies, and digital ethnography).

Recent advances in artificial intelligence have generated new interests, methods, problems, and capabilities across an array of humanities and creative arts disciplines. These have complicated conventional narratives of technological transformation, enabling a deeper understanding of the possibilities and hazards of automation, and the complexities of human-machine relations.

Our 54th Annual Academy Symposium will explore some of the most exciting work underway on these issues across the humanities with related institutions and industry fields, in Australia and elsewhere.

Topics will include:

  • Virtual autopsies and automated morgues,
  • The automation of cultural production and cultural taste,
  • Human accountability for the actions of machines,
  • The ‘explanatory imperative’
  • Questions of Indigenous data sovereignty
  • Digital human rights.



16 & 17 November 2023


Kaleide RMIT Union Theatre, Melbourne
> Location and accomodation details


Further speakers and session details to be announced soon.

Registrations open

Our Symposium is open to all – bringing together a large cross-section of Fellows, scholars, early-career researchers and representatives from government, education, peak bodies, industry, media and the community.



We’re delighted to bring you a full programme of panels, talks and events. 


We’re delighted to announce the following speakers for our program. Subscribe to receive Symposium updates.

17 November 2023

Marnie Hughes-Warrington AO is Standing Acting Vice Chancellor and Deputy Vice Chancellor Research and Enterprise at the University of South Australia

16 November 2023

Melissa is an internationally recognised research pioneer with deep technical expertise in user experience, sustainability, silicon and platform architecture and workplace transformation.

17 November 2023

Gerard Goggin is Professor of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney.

17 November 2023

Victoria works on gender and colonisation, and has published widely on Indigenous domestic labour history, in particular, and cross-cultural Indigenous colonial relations more generally.

Event information


The Symposium will be held in Melbourne, Australia > Learn how to get to our venues


As an attendee of the Symposium you have access to accommodation discounts > Learn more

Filming and Photography

By registering and attending the 54th Symposium and associated events you will be requested to acknowledge that photography, video and audio recordings of the event may occur and give permission that you may appear in such footage or images and that the Academy of the Humanities may use this in promoting its activities. If you do not wish to be filmed, please contact the Academy in advance of the event.


All participants attending the Symposium and associated events must comply with the COVID-19 safety rules outlined by the venues, RMIT and State Library of Victoria.


All of our venues have accessible options > Learn more

PRINICIPAL SPONSOR (3200 x 500 px)

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.