June 30, 2023
UOW philosopher chosen for ABC TOP 5 Media Residency
Dr Yves Saint James Aquino uses empirical bioethics methodologies to examine the ethics of AI
University of Wollongong (UOW) philosopher Dr Yves Saint James Aquino has been named as one of Australia’s best emerging thinkers and communicators, being selected for the 2023 ABC TOP 5 Media Residency Program – Humanities.
The program is designed to equip early career researchers with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to communicate with media and their audiences about their field of expertise.
As part of the program Dr Aquino will spend two weeks in residence at ABC Radio National, alongside some of the country's best specialist journalists and broadcasters and engaging with teams across ABC TV, digital and social media.
Dr Aquino is a research fellow at the Australian Centre for Health Engagement, Evidence and Values in UOW’s School of Health and Society.
Working at the intersection of health ethics, artificial intelligence (AI) and body image, he uses empirical bioethics methodologies to examine the ethics of AI.
“I am leading a UOW-funded project that examines the underlying problems that make healthcare applications of AI tools inequitable as these tools tend to work poorly or even against marginalised groups,” Dr Aquino says.
“One way to do this is to examine how healthcare AI developments represent, operationalise or use information about sociocultural identities, such as race and gender identity, that tend to be subject to marginalisation and prejudice.
“Another project is an ethical analysis of incorporating AI capabilities into smartphone beauty apps, which are designed to analyse, evaluate and modify images of people.
“Philosophically, I'm interested in examining assumptions that aesthetic judgments and bodily norms are amenable to AI automation. Practically, I am concerned that these apps, while fun, can have far-reaching social harms.”
Dr Aquino said the ABC TOP 5 Media Residency will be an opportunity for his research to find a wider audience.
“I am hoping to learn more about the Australian media landscape to improve my knowledge of how media organisations operate and how journalists identify topics to cover, and how to identify the best outlet based on the target audience,” he said.
“As a queer person of colour, I find it daunting to discuss my research with the media or the wider public for fear of facing prejudice. I hope to learn skills in navigating these spaces.”
Dr Aquino said it was important for academics to engage with the media to share their knowledge with the public, even for those researchers working on highly abstract topics.
“I would like to believe that we're past the era of academia as an ivory tower full of unapproachable professors,” he said.
“Sharing knowledge broadly is a good in itself, and academics should take the opportunity to engage with the media and the general public for that reason alone.
“I believe this to be true even for academics working on highly abstract topics. It might just be me, but I think knowledge, like a sweet dessert, is more gratifying if it's shared.”
Dr Aquino will undertake his residency from 7 to 18 August. During the residency participants are expected to create a media segment based on their expertise, either as part of a program, an online piece or a social media post. You can follow Dr Aquino on Twitter at @yvessj_aquino.