Working thesis title

Improving PhD skills for work in the fourth industrial revolution: A sociotechnical approach to ethical AI and research education.

Working research abstract

Fourth industrial revolution technologies (4IR) such as artificial intelligence (AI) will profoundly impact on our social, economic, and environmental systems. Sociotechnical systems (STS) theory helps us understand relationships between 4IR technologies and our social and natural worlds, and the emergent phenomena that arise from those relationships. These often highly complex interactions indicate the need for cross-disciplinary approaches to solve many emerging ethical problems of 4IR. Research education provides us with a pipeline of diverse and highly skilled experts. Still, often graduates emerge siloed into their respective disciplines thus impacting their efficacy to tackle the cross-disciplinary problems of 4IR.

My work will increase knowledge on how researchers’ epistemological and methodological approaches to their research intersect with surrounding STS within which AI agents operate. With the rapid rise of AI tools, it possible that they may be applied in the future to already existing doctoral research to extrapolate other patterns. Providing students with the skills to consider their work in the context of ethical AI would help them future-proof their research and equip them with valued 4IR employability characteristics.

There are two data collection phases of this work. Firstly, a synthesis of academic and organisational literature will develop a testable set of 4IR-ready skills. Secondly, feedback will be collected from doctoral students, research supervisors, and research education leaders. The second phase is to understand the efficacy of current doctoral education practices in relation to ethical AI, and what STS interventions could improve outcomes. As the work is conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact of the crisis on research education is also considered throughout the research. The ultimate goal is to understand how we can better equip our doctoral graduates with ethical leadership skills in a pandemic impacted 4IR world.

University PhD Candidate profile

Student Profile, Faculty of Science.

Room 119, Edgeworth David Building (A11), Science Road,
The University of Sydney, NSW
Graduating from a Masters by Research
at the University of Sydney.
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