WATCH: 'From Digital Data to Decisions' Workshop Keynote Address

13 May 2019

Presented 22nd March 2019 at the 'Data to Decisions to...' Workshop hosted by The University of Queensland and CSIRO.

Virginia Eubanks is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University at Albany, SUNY. She is the author of Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor, winner of the McGannon Center Book Prize for 2018. For two decades, Virginia has worked in community technology and economic justice movements.



Welcome and Orientation

Professor Mohan Krishnamoorthy (UQ PVC Research Partnerships)

Plenary Address

On digital data to decisions: some observations from the USA

A/Prof Virginia Eubanks (State University of New York - Albany)


Panel 1: From Data to Decisions to Practice

Digital data is used to help to inform decisions to act, including allocating resources. In digital agriculture, the decision might be about whether to plant a crop, of what type and when. In child protection, data based models seek to predict child harm or neglect. On social media platforms, data drives automated decisions to curate content and moderate behaviour. Decisions on resourcing include case mix funding in health settings, and employment services based on assessed risks of long-term unemployment. This panel examines the strengths and challenges in data-informed decision making for professional practice and resource allocation within organisational or individual contexts.



Panel 2: From Data to Decisions to Differentiation and In/Equalities

Data is used to sort or differentiate between individuals or sub-populations. Markets can be segmented for better targeting of products and advertisements, profiling occurs to automate news feeds on social media, personal characteristics are used to inform sentencing and parole decisions. Such segmentation discriminates, but it not necessarily discrimination. However, such segmentation can reinforce discrimination and exacerbate inequalities, or ameliorate them. This panel examines the dynamics of data discrimination and effects on socio-economic in/equalities.



Panel 3: From Data to Decisions to Data Protection, Surveillance and Privacy

Digital data are readily copied and circulated that provide constant weaknesses for privacy and data protection. This dynamic is exacerbated in an age of big data and the internet of things, made evermore challenging by the relational aspect of privacy of genetic markers and social media networks. This panel examines how the use of digital data in decision-making tools can disrupt data protection and privacy objectives, and possible technical and policy governance responses.



Panel 4: From Data to Decisions to Responsibility and Accountability

In order to capture the benefits of digital data it is important to develop policy, innovation and technical responses to disruptive data to decisions. This panel discusses a range of ways to increase the responsibility and accountability of digital data decision making. It will then broaden into an open discussion about how to create innovation, technologies and policies that seek to enhance the use of data for decision making while reducing the challenges and problematics that such digital decision making may give rise to.


  • Edward Santow (Australian Human Rights Commission)
  • Prof Lyria Bennett Moses (UNSW Law)
  • A/Prof Virginia Eubanks (SUNY)
  • A/Prof Paul Henman (UQ CPF)