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The ethics of data science conference

Addressing the future use and misuse of our data
Hosted by the University of Sydney’s Centre for Translational Data Science in March 2019, the conference brought together world-renowned experts to address the current crisis in confidence around algorithms.

The Ethics of Data Science Conference organised by the Centre for Translational Data Science (CTDS) at the University of Sydney provided an unprecedented opportunity in Australia for students, academics and practitioners to exchange views on the ethics of data science. The high calibre keynotes and paper presentations raised fundamental questions and highlighted principles for ethical data science including purpose, diversity, fairness, transparency, accountability, and bias. Developers and practitioners must continuously reflect on these issues while they are designing, implementing and deploying the data science systems that will ultimately affect society. The workshop series identified critical areas of development within domains such as human rights, criminal justice, health and business.

Topics covered included:

  • biased data
  • accountability, consequences and costs of automated decisions
  • personal data usage in political campaigns and election forecasting
  • Morally based decision-making under uncertainty
  • privacy and cybersecurity
  • automation and economic consequences
  • artificial intelligence and human rights

"The conference was a  highly stimulating event for all involved, and we have received incredibly positive feedback that shows just how vibrant and relevant ethics in data science is across a broad range of realms. Planning for March 2020 has already begun," says Dr Roman Marchant Matus, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Centre for Translational Data Science.

2020 Ethics of Data Science Conference

The University is planning to run this conference again next year. Complete the form below to register your interest and provide feedback on topics and conference themes you would be interested in hearing about in 2020.

2019 keynote speakers

Nicolas Hohn

Nicolas Hohn

Chief Data Scientist at QuantumBlack Australia

Nicolas is an Associate Partner at McKinsey, and Chief Data Scientist for QuantumBlack Australia. He advises organisations on starting or progressing along their analytics journeys. 



Professor Simon Jackman

Professor Simon Jackman

CEO of the United States Studies Centre

Simon's teaching and research centres on public opinion, election campaigns, political participation, and electoral systems. He is known for his work on poll averaging and predicting election outcomes. 



Associate Professor Seth Lazar

Associate Professor Seth Lazar

Head, School of Philosophy. Project Lead, Humanising Machine Intelligence Grand Challenge, ANU

Seth has published widely on the ethics of war, moral decision-making under risk and uncertainty, and other topics in moral and political philosophy. He has written one monograph, Sparing Civilians, and has another under contract, Duty under Doubt, with Oxford University Press. He also edited the Oxford Handbook of Ethics of War.

Dr Julia Powles

Associate Professor Julia Powles

Associate Professor of Technology Law & Policy, UWA

Julia joined UWA in January 2019, after more than a decade in Europe and the US. Her research focuses on civic and rights-based responses to emerging technologies. She is an expert in privacy, intellectual property, internet governance, and the law and politics of data, automation, and artificial intelligence. 

Professor Toby Walsh

Professor Toby Walsh

Scientia Professor of artificial intelligence at UNSW

Toby is a leading researcher in Artificial Intelligence. He leads the Algorithmic Decision Theory group at Data61, Australia's Centre of Excellence for ICT Research, and is guest professor at TU Berlin. 

Professor Toby Walsh

Dan Jermyn

Head of Data Science, Commonwealth Bank of Australia 

Dan Jermyn is an experienced leader in both technology and data science, with an established record of building award-winning, global teams in digital, big data and customer decisioning. Dan joined the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in 2017, where he has responsibility for delivering great customer experiences and innovative new solutions through data science.

Dr Matthew Beard

Dr Matthew Beard

Fellow, The Ethics Centre

Dr Matthew Beard is a husband, dad and a moral philosopher with an academic background in applied and military ethics. He is a Fellow at The Ethics Centre and co-author of Ethical By Design: Principles for Good Technology. Recently, Matt’s focus on ethics and technology has seen him engage and collaborate with organisations such as Salesforce, Atlassian, the NSW Government and the Australian Human Rights Council. In 2016, Matt won the Australasian Association of Philosophy prize for media engagement, recognising his “prolific contribution to public philosophy”. 

2019 workshop chairs and panelists

Warren Kaplan

Warren Kaplan

Garvan Institute’s Chief of Informatics

Warren Kaplan founded and leads Garvan’s Data Intensive Computer Engineering (DICE) group, that designed and built Garvan’s High Performance Computing, Cloud and Big Data infrastructure.

Ed Santow

Ed Santow

Human Rights Commissioner

Edward Santow has been Human Rights Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission since August 2016. He is currently leading the Commission’s work on detention and implementing the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT); refugees and migration; human rights issues affecting LGBTI people; counter-terrorism and national security; technology and human rights; freedom of expression; and freedom of religion.

Alan Kirkland

Alan Kirkland


Alan is CEO of CHOICE, Australia's national consumer organisation. He has a background in public policy, social movements and the justice system.

Ben Gilbert

Ben Gilbert

Attorney (Australia and New Zealand) Corporate, External, and Legal Affairs, Microsoft

Ben is a commercial attorney supporting Microsoft ANZ. In particular he supports the teams engaged in licensing cloud products and digital transformation solutions to large enterprise and public sector customers, and Microsoft’s consulting services business. He is currently Microsoft’s ANZ’s legal lead for the Health and Retail industries. Ben was shortlisted as the Australasian Young In-house Lawyer of the Year at the 2018  Australasian Law Awards.

Dr Tiberio Caetano

Tiberio Caetano

Chief Scientist, Gradient Institute

Tiberio is a machine learning researcher and academic, having published extensively at the top academic conferences and journals in the field, as well as graduated numerous Ph.D. students. He is a data science leader and founder and has led the development of AI systems driving automated decisions impacting millions of people. He is also an adjunct professor at UNSW.

Steven Southgate

Steven Southgate

Director Statewide Operations, Juvenile Justice, Department of Justice NSW

Steve began working in the Justice portfolio in 1992 as a Prison Officer in the United Kingdom. He progressed to various portfolios in England, leaving in 2011 as a Governor grade. He travelled to Australia to work in the private sector managing detention centres before taking an executive position focusing on the welfare of detainees. Steve moved back into Government in Western Australia as the Assistant Commissioner for the Department of Corrections before taking up the role as the Director for Statewide Operations in Juvenile Justice NSW in July 2017 where he currently remains.

Dr Roman Marchant

Dr Roman Marchant

Senior Research Fellow and Lecturer, Centre for Translational Data Science, Faculty of Engineering and IT, Sydney Institute of Criminology, Sydney Law School 

Roman has considerable knowledge in Machine Learning and Bayesian Statistics. This allows him to gather useful insights from large quantities of data or to create autonomous systems that learn and take decisions using fully probabilistic models that quantify uncertainty in outcomes of unknown processes .

Ashley Brinson

Ashley Brinson

Executive Director, Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering , the University of Sydney

Ashley has broad experience in engineering, R&D, and international business in the US, UK and China. Ashley is a Fellow of Engineers Australia and a lawyer of the Supreme Court of NSW.

Kimberlee Weatherall

Professor Kimberlee Weatherall

Professor of Law, The University of Sydney Law School

Kimberlee is a Professor of Law and Associate Dean (Research) at the University of Sydney Law School. Her interdisciplinary research agenda spans intellectual property, digital rights including privacy and the regulation of technology more broadly. She is a member of the Law Council of Australia’s IP Subcommittee as well as the Australian Computer Society's AI and Ethics Committee. 

Jackie Fitzgerald

Jackie Fitzgerald

Director, NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research

Jackie's  work has focussed on government priorities to reducing domestic violence and reoffending, the increasing NSW prison population, the intractable issue of Aboriginal over-representation, oversight of the development of a criminal justice simulation model to model the impact of policy reforms and improving external access to criminal justice data and impactful data visualisations.

 Caral Hoorweg

Caral Hoorweg

Head of Government and Industry Relations, Challenger Limited

Challenger Limited is an ASX-listed investment management firm managing around $81 billion in assets and focussed on providing customers with financial security for retirement. Prior to joining Challenger, Carla was Senior Policy Manager for Investment and Global Markets at the Financial Services Council.

Aurelie Jacquet

Aurelie Jacquet

Chair of Standards Committee IT-043 on Artificial Intelligence

Aurelie is the chair be of the new Australian national committee that mirrors the international standard on Artificial Intelligence (AI ISO). Her committee not only mirrors the work of the AI ISO in Australia, but also represents Australia at the AI ISO. She is also the founder of ‘Ethics for AI and Automated Decision Making (Ethics for AI)’, a professional working group, that will soon incorporate as a not for profit organisation. The aim of Ethics for AI, is to help define what ethical frameworks should be required for AI to automate decision making processes.

Professor Lyria Bennett Moses

Professor Lyria Bennett Moses

Director, Allens Hub for Technology, Law and Innovation and Professor, Faculty of Law, UNSW Sydney

Lyria's research explores issues around the relationship between technology and law, including the types of legal issues that arise as technology changes, how these issues are addressed in Australia and other jurisdictions, the application of standard legal categories such as property in new socio-technical contexts, the use of technologically-specific and sui generis legal rules, and the problems of treating “technology” as an object of regulation.

Peter Leonard

Peter Leonard

Sydney based data and technology business lawyer

As principal of  Data Synergies, many of his clients are data analytics services providers and business developing and implementing data driven projects and AI applications. Peter is also a Professor of Practice (Information Systems and Business Law) in the University of New South Wales Business School. Peter chairs the Australian IoT (Internet of Things) Alliance’s Data Access and Use workstream, the Law Society of New South Wales Privacy and Data Law Committee and the Australian Computer Society’s Artificial Intelligence and Ethics Technical Committee.

Conference location

F23 Building Auditorium

Corner of Eastern Avenue and City Road
The University of Sydney
Camperdown 2050

The closest train station to the conference is Central Station. From Central Station you can catch buses 428, 426, 423 and M30 to City Road before Butlin Avenue. For more information, please visit Transport NSW

A total of 10 travel support scholarships of US$1000 each will be provided to higher degree research students and early-career researchers who provide the best accepted papers according to the selection committee. 

Workshop 1: 
Ethics of AI in Law and Criminal Justice

Algorithms powered by AI are increasingly being used in the justice space across the world. In the US, algorithms determine the dispatch locations of patrolling units, known as predictive policing resource allocation. There are companies that provide black box algorithms for risk scores of reoffending, which in turn inform parole decisions. Up to what extent are the use of this techniques in the criminal justice useful and how can we make sure that these are fair and accountable?

Workshop 2:
e-B2C, Electronic business-to-consumer data, ethics and algorithms
This workshop will examine scenarios in banking, finance and insurance where large companies and SMEs interface directly to consumers.
Chair: Ashley Brinson, Chief Executive Officer, The Warren Centre

Workshop 3: 
Human Rights and AI
There is a growing concern on how the use of technology is affecting human rights. Particularly, algorithms and AI if used incorrectly can have a serious impact on the fundamental rights of humans, such as the right to equality and non-discrimination. If one of the most popular machine learning algorithms is a “classifier” that classifies individuals into different categories depending on their characteristics, that is basically discrimination, but when is this for good or bad in a Human Rights context? Human rights around privacy are also potentially affected by the use of personal data for decision making in government and large corporations.

Workshop 4:
Health, Genomics, Family Care and Patient Privacy
Medical science is on the threshold of massive learning based on information held within health data.  Personalised medicine offers unique treatment possibilities.  In 2017, Craig Venter demonstrated remarkably accurate facial image predictions from genomic data, and consumer genomics company 23andme in March 2019 launched a low cost saliva test to predict genetic predisposition to type 2 diabetes.  The collection, analysis and learning from personal health data is expanding rapidly.  The Australian Digital Health Agency’s My Health Record is now live, but last year, one quarter of the digital health records in Singapore were accessed in a cyber security hack. This workshop examines the issues swirling around ethics in data science within the context of health, genomics and patient privacy.

  • Mann Monique, Foth Marcus, Mitchel Peta, Suzor Nicolas and Pappalardo Kylie, Ethical algorithms “by design”.
  • Dao Andre, Algorithmic judges and human dignity a dignitarian approach to algorithmic discrimination.
  • Hutchinson Ben, Pittl KJ and Mitchell Margaret, Interpreting Social Respect: A Normative Lens for ML Models
  • McNamara Daniel, Algorithmic Stereotypes: Implications for Fairness of Generalising from Past Data
  • Zerilli John, Algorithmic decision-making and the control problem
  • Henrichsen Jesper, Klafke Beck Lucas, Rossi Luca, Machine learning might be the answer: but can we ask the proper question?
  • Krupiy Tanya, Searching for a better present: a proposal for embedding fairness into artificial intelligence models
  • Tuffley David, Ethical algorithms in the Age of the Centaur
  • Ostmann Florian, Fairness in the context of algorithmic decision-making: Towards a map of ethical concerns
  • Terzis Petros, The reasonable coder
  • Leonard Peter, Making Heuristics Real Practical Processes and Tools for Building-in Accountability by Design
  • Ho Xuan-Vinh, Layered Explanations: Interpreting Neural Networks with Numerical Influence Measures
  • McCay Allan, The value of consciousness and free will in a technological dystopia 
  • Zalnieriute Monika, Bennett Moses Lyria, Williams George, The Rule of Law and Automation of Government Decision-Making
  • N Silva Victor, Are Algorithms Affecting the Democracy in Brazil?
  • Held Fabian, Information Privacy in the Context of Sensitive Data
  • Caetano Tiberio, Designing ethical algorithms has ethical pitfalls
  • Lattimore Finnian, On the impossibility of formalising fairness in ML
  • Vipond Alexander, Cybersecurity and the Ghost of Future Anonymity
  • Hogan-Doran Dominique, Computer says “no”: automation, algorithms and artificial intelligence in Government decision-making*
  • Perrier Elija, Computational complexity, completeness and uncertainty in algorithmic governance
  • Carter Stacy, Reducing harms or promissory hype? A preliminary social and ethical analysis of artificial intelligence in breast screening systems
  • Swist Teresa, The Contested Futures of Health Archives and Algorithms: Introducing the Wellbeing Health & Youth Engagement Framework
  • Anderson Theresa, Shaping People-Centred Data Science Practices
  • Gibbons Matthew, Why Algorithms are Better than Humans: Analysing the New Zealand Electoral Rolls 2014-2020
  • Australian National University
  • Barnet
  • Data61
  • Duke Kunshan University
  • Google
  • Griffith University
  • Harvard University
  • IT University of Copenhagen
  • National University of Singapore
  • Queensland University of Technology
  • The Gradient Institute
  • Tilburg University
  • University of Alberta
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of New South Wales
  • University of Otago
  • University of Sydney
  • University of Technology Sydney
  • University of Wollongong
  • University of Winchester
  • Victoria University of Wellington
  • Western Sydney University


We hope everyone who registers for the conference will be able to attend; however, we know that extenuating circumstances do occur. Our cancellation and refund policies are as follows:

Cancellations will only be considered when received in writing to

There will be no penalty for cancellations received on or before the 28th of February. The full amount paid will be refunded. 

From the 28th of February to 13th of March a cancellation fee of 30% of registration costs will be applied.

Registrants cancelling after the 13th of March will not receive a refund.

Substitutions: Registered delegates may be substituted at no extra charge. Please notify us in writing at least 48 hours prior to the conference. Please email Delegates may not "share" a pass between multiple attendees without prior authorisation.




Contact our events team

Professor Sally Cripps

Professor Sally Cripps
Director, Centre for Translational Data Science
"The ethical use of data science methods and technology is one of the most debated topics of the digital age and CTDS is proud to be at the centre of it. The issues extend far beyond the ethical use of algorithms and touch on the idea of data sovereignty; how to give individuals back the ownership of personal data so that the economic benefits of data sharing flow to them and the legal implications of doing so."