Automation, uncertainty, and Robodebt scheme

Monash Lens

The recently concluded Royal Commission into the Robodebt Scheme exposed the manifest flaws in an automated system used for raising social security debts.

  • Michelle Lazarus

    Associate Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

  • Joel Townsend

    Associate Professor, Law Experiential Education, Faculty of Law, Monash University

Among the many lessons we can draw from the wider Robodebt scandal is the need to design systems (whether human or automated) with a complex, uncertain world in mind.

While Robodebt wasn’t an artificial intelligence system, it’s a cautionary tale as we contemplate an increasingly automated future, especially in the context of substantial developments in AI.

Robodebt was a process by which Centrelink took annual Australian Taxation Office income data, and averaged it into fortnightly instalments

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