Society 5.0 Ethics – A Festival of Ideas

Academics, industry leaders, corporate professionals and students are invited to this two-day event at the RMIT Melbourne city campus to discuss how new technologies can be used in ethical and human-focused ways to improve society.  

This is an Engaging for Impact Event by RMIT's Enabling Impact Platforms. Co-hosted by the University of Utrecht.


Let’s shape the ethical landscapes of future technologies to foreground human-centred societal concerns.

Academics, industry leaders, corporate professionals and students are invited to this two-day event at the RMIT Melbourne city campus to discuss how new technologies can be used in ethical and human-focused ways to improve society.     

Together, we aim to create ethical guidelines and best practices for technology innovation that prioritise people. 

Activities during the event include seminars, workshops, roundtable discussions, and keynote talks by leading academics.


Keynote speakers

Professor Payal Arora, Utrecht University

Professor of Inclusive AI Cultures & Co-Founder of FemLab, a feminist futures of work initiative

Payal is a digital anthropologist and author, speaker, and consultant. Her expertise draws from more than two decades of user experiences among diverse marginalised communities worldwide to shape inclusive designs and policies. Forbes named her the “next billion champion” and “the right kind of person to reform tech.”  She is the author of award-winning books including ‘The Next Billion Users’ with Harvard Press. Her upcoming book with MIT Press & Harper Collins India, ‘From Pessimism to Promise: Lessons from the Global South on Designing Inclusive Tech” will be released soon. She sits on several boards for organisations such as the Prosus Centre for Internet and Digital Economy and the World Women Global Council in New York.

Associate Professor Julia Powles, University of Western Australia

Director of the UWA Tech & Policy Lab and Associate Professor of Law and Technology

Julia is an expert in privacy, intellectual property, internet governance, and the law and politics of data, automation, and artificial intelligence. She serves on Australian federal and state committees on generative AI in education, privacy and responsible information sharing, responsible AI, and robotics.

Laureate Professor Sarah Pink, Monash University

Director of the Emerging Technologies Lab at Monash University

Sarah is a design and futures anthropologist and documentary filmmaker. She is an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow and holds honorary doctorates from Malmo and Halmstad Universities. Her most recent publications include her book Emerging Technologies / Life at the Edge of the Future (2023) and her documentaries Digital Energy Futures (2022) and Air Futures (2024).

Professor Rachel A. Ankeny, University of Adelaide 

Professor of History and Philosophy

Rachel’s research foci include bioethics, history and philosophy of the biological and biomedical sciences, and food and agricultural ethics. As of July 2024, Rachel will be Chair and Professor of the Philosophy Group at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. 

Event Co-Designers & Keynote Speakers

Professor Lisa Given, RMIT University

Director, Social Change Enabling Impact Platform & Professor of Information Sciences

Lisa is a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and a past President of the Association for Information Science and Technology. Lisa’s interdisciplinary research in human information behaviour brings a critical, social research lens to studies of technology use and user-focused design. Her studies embed social change, focusing on diverse settings and populations, and methodological innovations across disciplines.

Professor Annette Markham, Utrecht University 

Chair Professor of Future Data Literacies and Public Engagement

Annette is renowned for her expertise in digital ethics and research design. With nearly 30 years of ethnographic research, she examines how digital transformations affect identity and socio-cultural practices. She pioneers citizen social science methods to understand how algorithmic and data-driven systems shape daily life and future perspectives, especially among urban youth. She founded the international Future Making Research Consortium and formerly directed the Digital Ethnography Research Centre at RMIT.  

Other confirmed speakers, panellists, and workshop facilitators include:

Vice-Chancellor's Senior Research Fellow

Kate’s research explores how AI and emerging digital technologies can be made more useful, accessible, and inclusive for people with disability. Kate is a fierce advocate for authentic co-design and consumer consultation.

Emma is a Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services (AWS), where she works closely with customers in the public sector.

Chief Recycling Officer

Leigh Ashlin is the Founder of Simbl, a pioneering gamified home recycling solution using blockchain and augmented reality. Previously, Leigh was Head of Blockchain and Disruptive Platforms at Accenture, focusing on supply chain traceability and digitization of real-world assets.

With 20 years of experience in Investment Banking at Standard Chartered, Macquarie Bank, and BlackRock, Leigh now focuses on sustainability disruption, recycling research, and human-centered blockchain solutions. He sits on the Advisory Board of the RMIT Graduate School of Business and Law, is a Research Partner at the RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub, an Industry Partner to the RMIT Graduate School, and a Sponsor of the University of Melbourne Innovation Practice Program.

Vice Chancellor’s Senior Research Fellow

Sarah brings two decades of strategic policy, research, and creative practice to her work on digital ecosystems, urban civics and cultural imaginaries. In 2023 she commenced a Vice Chancellor's Senior Research Fellowship at RMIT, exploring emerging organisational sensibilities and place strategies for platform civics in an era of climate vulnerability. She Co-Directs the creative practice ESEM with her life partner Michael Killalea, created STORYBOX as Australia's first public space media platform, and is a champion of multi-disciplinary storytelling practices in building communities of connection. Her book Platform Urbanism was published in 2019 by Palgrave.

Director, Digital 3

Chris is the co-founder of the RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub, the world’s first dedicated social science research centre studying blockchain technology, based at RMIT University, Melbourne. Professor Berg is a leading global authority on regulation, technological change, and civil liberties. His many articles have been published internationally, and he is the author/co-author of eleven books, including Understanding the Blockchain Economy: An Introduction to Institutional Cryptoeconomics (2019) and The Classical Liberal Case for Privacy in a World of Surveillance and Technological Change (2018).

Lecturer, Sports Innovation Research Group

Paul is a doctor of sociology specialising in the social effects of sport, technology, and gender. Paul's research qualitatively focuses on how athletes’ affectively experience digital self-tracking and employee experiences of workplace monitoring. 

PhD Candidate and Research Assistant

Joann’s PhD research is on the role of the institution in enabling societal impact of research, which is informed by her prior professional experience as a project manager for academic-industry research collaborations.

PhD candidate 

Katie’s research is investigating the changing Information Behaviours of International Student-Gig Workers in Australia Katie’s recent work has focused on establishing an important situational awareness of the Australian gig work ecosystem. 


Systemic Advocate

Katy is passionate about working with diverse stakeholders to determine VALID’s positions on important issues. Before VALID, Katy worked in communications-based roles with Inclusion Australia and Villamanta Disability Rights Legal Service, and volunteered as a Community Visitor. Katy has the Master of Publishing and Communications from Melbourne University, where they wrote and published a peer-reviewed adaptation of their thesis on Facebook and Disability Discrimination. Katy is currently in their second year of the Juris Doctor at La Trobe University. Katy enjoys spending time with family and friends, and making one too many puns at every opportunity.

Professor, School of Global, Urban, and Social Studies  

Nicola is Professor and Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow in the Social Equity Research Centre at RMIT University. Nicola is a socio-legal scholar with over two decades of research experience in the sexual violence field. Her research investigates the nature, prevalence and impacts of sexual violence, including legal and prevention responses in Australian and international contexts.

Her current research focuses on technology-facilitated sexual violence and image-based sexual abuse. Nicola is currently undertaking an ARC Future Fellowship on digital tools, policies and platforms and image-based sexual abuse.

Senior Lecturer in International Law & Co-Director Business and Human Rights Centre

Jonathan’s research and teaching interests focus on international law and global governance issues. Current projects examine human rights obligations of companies in conflict-affected areas and issues related to international humanitarian law. For several years, Jonathan has been part of a fruitful collaboration with Australian Red Cross around achieving responsible business conduct in conflict zones. He has consulted to the United Nations, International Committee of Red Cross and routinely provides expert advice to business and civil society organisations.

PhD student, School of Media and Communication

Stephanie’s research is exploring the impacts and opportunities relating to automated decision-making systems in social services on young people at risk of and experiencing homelessness. Stephanie has used a multi-method qualitative approach using creative workshops and interviews to conduct this research with young people and social workers living in Melbourne. Prior to beginning the PhD, Stephanie worked in the community sector in Melbourne in advocacy and community development. As part of this work, Stephanie designed and delivered digital inclusion training initiatives in rural Indonesia and across Australia. Stephanie has a specific interest in trauma-informed approaches to automated decision-making system design and research.

Professor, Graduate School of Business and Law

Shelley is professor of law at RMIT University. She has advised and published on corporate accountability and business and human rights for 25 years, with a focus on the labour conditions of vulnerable workers and modern slavery. Shelley left legal practice in 2001 to join the team setting up Ethical Clothing Australia. Her research has informed labour law reform in several countries and the policies of the International Labour Organisation. For example, over 2018-19 she made frequent trips to Thailand to advise the Thai Ministry of Labour on how to enforce labour laws for homeworkers. In 2023, she co-drafted an ILO Convention on Decent Work in Global Supply Chains with Ingrid Landau. Her book, Living Wage published by Oxford University Press in 2019, proposed a new architecture for international labour law. An Australian Research Council DECRA Fellowship, 2020-2023, allowed Shelley to examine the deployment of digital technologies to address modern slavery.

Associate Dean (Interaction, Technology & Information), School of Computing Technologies

Dana works at the nexus of people, technology and information. Her primary research interest is in ensuring that rapidly advancing technologies are beneficial to all members of society, rather than just the privileged few. To this end, Dana has projects on the harms of tech in intimate relationships, the ethics of AI, how online information influences our views, and how we find information using search and browsing.

Inclusion Consultant and Community Empowerment Advocate

John has 60+ years of living experience with a physical disability. John regularly works with Government representatives, services, and academic researchers to achieve better outcomes for people with disability or diversity. His recent work has focused on issues including palliative care and Voluntary Assisted Dying, Restrictive Practice, inclusive sport and recreation, aged care, and advocacy services for people who find it hard to assert themselves using English.

Assistant Manager, eSafety (Gender & Tech team)

As a part of the Education, Prevention and Inclusion Branch, the team works to encourage better responses to, and the prevention of, tech-based abuse of women and the building of safe, inclusive and gender equal online spaces. Prior to joining eSafety, Laura worked across the family, domestic and sexual violence service sector, as well as academia – with her PhD focussed on violence against women in the user-generated pornography market

Research Fellow, ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making & Society

Dang’s current research examines informal economic activities within automated media systems, including social media platforms. Dang’s books include Digital research methods and the diaspora (Routledge, 2023), and Internet cures: the social lives of digital miracles (Bristol University Press, forthcoming).

Brenton is an athlete, disability advocate and fundraiser, with lived experience of Cerebral Palsy. Brenton was recently recognised as Boroondara Citizen of the Year (2024) for his contribution to the Boroondara community, in particular, with Go Zone Gymnastics, where he has served as a volunteer coach for over 5 years. In addition to inclusive sports, Brenton also has training in photography and animation, and is interested in the role of Artificial Intelligence for inclusion outcomes.


Jason teaches ethics, governance, wicked problems, systems thinking, design thinking and socio-technical co-design. He is a member of the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) and performs the role of Associate Editor for IEEE Transaction on Technology and Society.

Senior Lecturer

Paul is a Chief Investigator with the Australian Research Council’s Centre for Information Resilience. Dr Scifleet’s research focusses on the emerging socio-technical discourse now framing information and data at societal levels. He is specialist in information governance and management, including areas of information protection, privacy.

Lecturer in law

Nicole is a socio-legal researcher focused on gender and sex, technology, and regulation. Using qualitative empirical research, she explores how gender and technology interact, and consequently how technologies may be regulated to reduce abuse and harassment. Her research aims to inform law reform to prevent online abuse, and the regulation of technology companies.

Director, RMIT AWS Cloud Supercomputing and Cloud Innovation Centre

A research professional, Robert brings 20 years of experience in higher education, digital innovation, and the research infrastructure sector. He received his PhD from the School of Information Technology, University of Sydney, in 2006. His career includes roles as a research fellow at the University of Melbourne, software lead at Australian National Data Service, and eResearch Director at Astronomy Australia. Since January 2022, Robert has been serving as the Director of RACE (RMIT AWS Cloud Supercomputing) at RMIT University.

Professor of Design for Regenerative Futures

Chris collaborates with a wide variety of communities and partners to explore how design provides methods to adapt toward becoming a regenerative society. Chris has an established track record in directing large complex grants and educational programmes with academic, industry and third sector partners, that apply design and data methods to complex social, environmental, and economic challenges.

Senior Lecturer, School of Computing Technologies

Damiano is an Associate Investigator at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making & Society (ADM+S). His research focuses on Interactive Information Retrieval and evaluation of information access systems, including search engines and conversational assistants. He is the recipient of an ARC DECRA (2020-2023) and an RMIT Award for Research Impact (Technology, 2021).

Patrick is an AWS Cloud Application Specialist and a final year PhD candidate at RMIT. His areas of expertise include high powered computing (HPC), computational chemistry, and nanotechnology.

Executive Dean, School of Computing Technologies

Karin is a Fellow of the Australasian Institute of Digital Health and a 2021 “Brilliant Woman in Digital Health”. She was also selected as a finalist in the Women in AI Australia/New Zealand Awards 2022 for “AI in Innovation”. Karin is passionate about using data and AI to improve health outcomes for people. Her work has a specific emphasis on the use of natural language processing to transform unstructured data in biomedicine, ranging from scientific literature to clinical texts, into actionable information.

Dates and times

Day 1

City Campus

Monday, 17 June 2024

9am – 6:30pm, AEDT

Swanston Academic Building, Building 80

Day 2

City Campus

Monday, 18 June 2024

9am – 6:45pm, AEDT

Swanston Academic Building, Building 80

*Attendees are highly encouraged to attend both days if possible.

Conference at a glance

See what’s on for each day of the Society 5.0 Ethics A Festival of Ideas event.

Event registration open:  

8.20am - 8.50am At level 3 foyer entrance

Keynote and plenary discussion:

- Welcome

- Society 5.0 Ethics: A Clarion Call for Technology-Disrupted Future

Morning tea break
Multitrack sessions:

- The AI Primer: Definitions and Reality Check

- Should Australia Recognise a Right to the Internet? A Roundtable Exploring Human Rights Priorities in Society 5.0

- Can Money Save the World?

Lunch break


Designing Our Ethical Approaches to New Technologies: Anticipating, Reflecting, and Envisioning

Afternoon tea break
Multi-track sessions:

- Supply Chain Governance, Human Rights and Ethics

- Altered States: Conversations with Otherselves in the Ambient Surround

- Digital Futures for People with Disabilities


Designing Inclusive Tech: Future-oriented Approaches to the Digital with the Majority World

Network reception: 

6.30pm at Building 80, Level 3 foyer

Event registration open:  

8.20am - 8.50am At Level 3 foyer entrance


Big Tech, AI, and Reclaiming the Future

Morning tea break

Plenary and manifesto

Tackling Misinformation on a Global Scale: The International Panel on the Information Environment (IPIE)

Lunch break


Society at the Edge of the Future

Afternoon tea break

Multi-track sessions:

- When Tools Become Weapons: The Dark Side of Everyday Technology

- Working from Phone: Ethics, Technology, and the Future of Gig Work

- Essentials of Generative AI for HASS Scholars

Plenary session and keynote:

- Voices into the Future: Setting a Potential Research Agenda for Society 5.0 Ethics

- A Transdisciplinary Ethos for a Society 5.0 Ethical Future

About the event

This Engaging for Impact event is co-hosted by RMIT University’s Social Change Enabling Impact Platform and Utrecht University (Netherlands) 

Society 5.0 Ethics Steering Committee:

  • Professor Lisa Given, Professor of Information Sciences and Director, Social Change Enabling Impact Platform, RMIT University
  • Professor Annette Markham, Chair Professor of Future Data Literacies and Public Engagement, Utrecht University
  • Distinguished Professor Jason Potts, Co-Director RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub, RMIT University
  • Distinguished Professor Julian Thomas: Director, ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making & Society, RMIT University 
  • Professor Karin Verspoor: Dean, School of Computing Technologies, RMIT University

Society 5.0 Ethics International Advisory Committee:

  • Professor Philip Howard, President, International Panel on the Information Environment and Professor, Oxford University
  • Professor Gina Neff, Executive Director, Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy, University of Cambridge
  • Professor Helen Kennedy, Professor of Digital Society, University of Sheffield
  • Professor Michael Zimmer, Director, Centre for Data, Ethics, and Society, Marquette University

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Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.

aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.