Outgoing human rights commissioner takes UTS AI ethics gig

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Outgoing human rights commissioner takes UTS AI ethics gig

Will begin in September.

Australia’s outgoing human rights commissioner Edward Santow has been appointed to lead a new artificial intelligence-focused responsible technology initiative at the University of Technology Sydney.

Santow, who finishes up at the Australian Human Rights Commission at the end of this month, will take on the new position of industry professor, responsible technology from September.

He will lead a “major UTS initiative” aimed at building “strategic capability” and supporting business and government to develop and use AI responsibly at a time of unprecedented growth.

The initiative is expected to offer leadership training to senior public and private sector executives, targeted training in “AI-exposed sectors” like financial services and general workplace training.

Vice-chancellor professor Attila Brungs said Santow would allow the UTS to bring a “multifaceted approach… to AI education”, further developing its strong reputation in the field of ethics and AI.

“His work aligns with UTS’s strategic vision to be a leading public university of technology, recognised for our global impact, and our ambitious social justice goals,” Brungs said in a statement.

Santow comes to the role having just finish a landmark report into human rights and technology that recommends temporarily banning facial recognition for “high-risk” government decisions.

The report also called for legislation governing the use of facial recognition and other biometric technology and for human rights impact assessments to be undertaken before any AI system is used to make decisions.

Santow – who will be based in the university’s Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion, which is headed up by executive director Verity Frith – said he was looking forward to joining UTS.

“I am excited to work with UTS’s world-class experts on a defining challenge of our time: to ensure that the AI we increasingly rely on gives us the future we want and need, not one we fear,” he said.

Before becoming human rights commissioner in July 2016, Santow spent almost six years as CEO of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, a not-for-profit focusing on human rights.

He has also worked as a senior lecturer at the University of NSW Law School and a research director at law firm Gilbert + Tobin.

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