Australia is a country firmly part of the Global North, yet geographically located in the Global South. This North-in-South divide plays out internally within Australia given its status as a British settler-colonial society which continues to perpetrate imperial and colonial practices vis-à-vis the Indigenous peoples and vis-à-vis Australia’s neighbouring countries in the Asia-Pacific region. This article draws on discuss five seminal examples forming a case study on Australia to examine big data practices through the lens of Southern Theory from a criminological perspective. We argue that Australia’s use of big data cements its status as a North-in-South environment where colonial domination is continued via modern technologies to effect enduring informational imperialism and digital colonialism. We conclude by outlining some promising ways in which data practices can be decolonised through Indigenous Data Sovereignty but acknowledge these are not currently the norm so Australia's digital colonialism/coloniality endures for the time being.
15 September 2018
'(Big) Data and the North-in-South: Australia’s Informational Imperialism and Digital Colonialism' by Monique Mann and Angela Daly in the forthcoming 'Big Data from the South' special issue of Television and New Media edited by Stefania Milan and Emiliano Trere comments
'A Design of its Own: How to Protect the Fashion Industry' by Gianna Cresto in American Intellectual Property Law Association Quarterly Journal (Forthcoming) discusses the gap in [US] intellectual property protections for the fashion industry.
First, it details why fashion is art of the type that typically qualifies for copyright protection, and not just a means of covering the body. Next, it discusses why this hybrid nature makes it unique and worthy of protection under current U.S. copyright law. Because designs are often chosen not just for their functional purpose, but for their artistic and expressive qualities, clothing is different from many other types of works protected by IP frameworks, including trademark and patent. The dual purpose and ability of fashion to be used as a form of expression should not keep if from the protection it deserves. The Supreme Court addressed the standard for copyright protection in the context of clothing design in Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands.
This Note suggests that this recent development marks an opportune time to push for new legislation that will expand the Star Athletica ruling. These increased protections for the fashion industry should be developed by drawing on other forms of IP protection for fashion in the United States, and protections in place in other countries. These hybrid works call for a hybrid solution. Though its solution, this Note fills the gap for fashion designs, particularly for designers that are just starting out or less conspicuous when it comes to branding.
'Blind Spot: The Attention Economy and the Law' by Tim Wu in (2018) Antitrust Law Journal comments
Human attention is a resource. An increasingly large and important sector of the economy, including firms such as Google, Facebook, Snap, along with parts of the traditional media, currently depend on attentional markets for their revenue. Their business model, however, present a challenge for laws premised on the presumption of cash markets. This paper introduces a novel economic and legal analysis of attention markets centered on the “attention broker,” the firms that attract and resell attention to advertisers.
The analysis has important payouts for two areas: antitrust analysis, and in particular the oversight of mergers in high technology markets, as well as the protection of the captive audiences from so-called “attentional theft.”Wu states
Human attention, valuable and limited in supply, is a resource. It has become commonplace, especially in the media and technology industries, to speak of an “attention economy” and of competition in “attention markets.” There is even an attentional currency, the “basic attention token” (BAT) which purports to serve as a medium of exchange for user attention. Firms like Facebook and Google, which have emerged as two of the most important firms in the global economy, depend nearexclusively on attention markets as a business model.
Yet despite the well-recognized commercial importance of attention markets, the law has struggled when it encounters the attention economy. Antitrust agencies, tasked with assessing the effects of mergers and controlling anticompetitive behavior, seem to lack a way to understand the market dynamics when the firms offer “free products” that are actually competing for attention. Meanwhile, those tasked with consumer protection have no good paradigm for dealing with attentional intrusions stemming from non-consensual, intrusive advertising or debates over the use of telephones on airlines. This essay aims to provide a legal and economic analysis to help face the challenges here described. In other work, I have described the rise and spread of the “attention industry,” the businesses that depend on the resale of attention, a global industry with an annual revenue of approximately $500 billion.
This essay builds on that work by focusing on the economic decisions implicit in “Attention Brokerage.” As described here, brokerage is the resale of human attention. It is to attract attention by offering something to the public (entertainment, news, free services and so on), and then reselling that attention to advertisers for cash. Examples of pure Attention Brokers include social media companies like Instagram and Facebook, search engines like Google or Bing, ad-supported publishers like Buzzfeed or AM News, and some television channels like CBS or NBC. The Brokers’ activities are critical to the operation of attention markets, for the business model creates much of the competition for attention that this paper describes.
This approach offers new promise for the antitrust law and some of the challenges it confronts in the attention economy. Markets and market definition are central to contemporary antitrust law, and this paper offers a new approach to the definition of attention markets, in cases where enforcers and courts may otherwise become confused by the presence of a “free” product or by two-sided market analysis. It suggests defining the relevant consumer markets based on “time spent” (or just “time”) as the currency, and then making use of the familiar economic concept of substitution to find an appropriate market. And so, for example, in a case centered on online mapping products, an enforcement agency may ask whether products like Google Maps, Waze, and Apple Maps are, in fact, substitutes for each other in attention markets. The law can then address appropriate market definition by asking whether other products, like streaming video, compete for the same attention as online maps. That makes possible the use of an “Attentional Small but Significant and Non-Transitory Increase in Price” test, or “A-SSNIPS” test as an aid to finding the appropriate market definition for consumer markets.
The implications of this paper are not merely theoretical. Armed with a better analysis, it would not be too late for an American antitrust agency to challenge some of the relevant acquisitions consummated over the 2010s, like Facebook-Instagram, or Google-Waze, under either Section 7 of the Clayton Act, or Section 2 of the Sherman Act. The passage of years might, in fact, provide clearer evidence of whether such mergers have, in fact, generated efficiencies, or instead yielded either higher advertising prices, or increased the ad-load experienced by consumers, or resulted in quality effects, like diminished privacy protections. xxx In any event, taking attention markets seriously will be essential for agencies confronting a new generation of challenges raised by importance of the businesses that resell human attention. The goal of this paper is to encourage economists and agencies to develop workable models that help the law face these challenges.'Freedom: The Holberg Lecture, 2018' by Cass R. Sunstein asks
If people have freedom of choice, do their lives go better? Under what conditions? By what criteria?
Consider three distinct problems. (1) In countless situations, human beings face a serious problem of “navigability”; they do not know how to get to their preferred destination, whether the issue involves health, education, employment, or well-being in general. This problem is especially challenging for people who live under conditions of severe deprivation, but it can be significant for all of us. (2) Many of us face problems of self-control, and our decisions today endanger our own future. What we want, right now, hurts us, next year. (3) In some cases, we would actually be happy or well-off with two or more different outcomes, whether the issue involves our jobs, our diets, our city, or even our friends and partners, and the real question, on which good answers are increasingly available, is what most promotes our welfare. The evaluative problem, in such cases, is especially challenging if a decision would alter people’s identity, values, or character. Private and public institutions -- including small companies, large companies, governments – can help people to have better lives, given (1), (2), and (3).
This Essay, the text of the Holberg Lecture 2018, is the basis for a different, thicker, and more elaborate treatment in a book.
13 September 2018
The report of the Inquiry into the external oversight of police corruption and misconduct in Victoria by the Victorian Parliamentary committee on the state's Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) has recommended that all serious police misconduct be investigated by a new independent police misconduct and corruption division within IBAC.
The Committee was required to:
The Committee was required to:
1. Examine the current system for the oversight of police corruption and misconduct in Victoria, in particular the role of IBAC and the Victorian Inspectorate.
2. Identify and assess best‐practice models for the oversight of police.
3. Identify and review the main challenges to the effective oversight and investigation of complaints and disclosures about police in Victoria. This will involve an examination of the legal framework for the oversight of police in Victoria. The review will encompass both the legal responsibilities of those overseeing police as well as the perspectives and experiences of complainants, including marginalised Victorians.
4. Consider best‐practice strategies to improve the oversight and investigation of police corruption and misconduct and how they may be implemented in Victoria.The Committee notes
Police play a critical role in society, preventing and combating crime, enforcing the law and protecting, assisting and engaging with the community in a myriad of ways. The job of a police officer is a demanding one: they can be called on to make split‐second decisions in complex, stressful and dangerous circumstances. In order to do their jobs effectively, police officers have distinctive powers to arrest, detain, search and use force against individuals. However, the use of these powers is strictly governed by the law and by the understanding that effective and legitimate policing rests on the consent and confidence of the community—an understanding central to the values and commitments of Victoria Police. While the majority of Victoria Police officers do a fine job in serving the community, the maintenance of public confidence in police depends to a considerable degree on how officers who do the wrong thing are held accountable. In this regard, an effective system for handling complaints and disclosures (‘whistleblower’ complaints) is vital.
In 2016, the Independent Broad‐based Anti‐Corruption Commission Committee’s Strengthening Victoria’s integrity agencies? report identified that there were concerns among some stakeholders about the impartiality and effectiveness of the current police complaint‐handling and oversight systems in Victoria. Some stakeholders called for the creation of a new, independent body to receive, handle and investigate all complaints about police, instead of Victoria Police and IBAC, along the lines of the Office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (PONI). ...
The Committee found that Victoria’s mixed civilian review system—in which the responsibility for handling and investigating complaints is shared between Victoria Police and IBAC as an independent oversight body—is a robust one that can, with improvement, meet the relevant best practice principles. The Committee does not therefore recommend the creation of a new independent body to receive, handle and investigate all complaints about police.
However, the Committee’s research, and evidence received during this Inquiry, demonstrate that the complaints and police oversight system needs significant improvement. The Committee has therefore made 69 recommendations to improve the transparency, impartiality, effectiveness and efficiency of the system.
In particular, the Committee considers that IBAC needs to give greater priority to its functions of handling, investigating and oversighting complaints about police. For example, IBAC investigates only approximately 2% of the allegations it determines warrant investigation, referring the rest to Victoria Police, including a range of serious police misconduct matters. In order to enhance the attention IBAC gives to serious police misconduct, and police oversight generally, the Committee has recommended the establishment of an adequately staffed and empowered Police Corruption and Misconduct Division within IBAC. Further, the Committee has recommended that, unless there are exceptional circumstances, IBAC, rather than Victoria Police, investigate serious police misconduct. In order to assist IBAC in carrying out these important functions, the Committee has recommended the conferral of selected additional investigative and oversight powers on it.
The Committee’s recommendations address the need for significant improvements in the complaints system across a wide range of functions and activities, including the receipt, handling, assessment, referral, investigation, review and oversight of complaints and disclosures about police. In particular, the Committee emphasises the importance of the accurate assessment of all complaints to ensure, for example, that serious police misconduct is not wrongly classified as a customer service issue or similar lower‐level concern.
Further, the Committee has made recommendations, from a complainant‐centred perspective, to improve the public information about the complaints system that is available (including high quality data on the operation of the system). It has also made recommendations to ensure that complainants, especially vulnerable complainants, are better communicated with and supported throughout the process. In addition, the Committee has identified a range of necessary improvements to ensure the impartiality and thoroughness of Victoria Police complaint investigations (particularly at the regional level). This includes the better management of issues such as officer complaint histories and conflicts of interest. Finally, the Committee has recommended that Victoria Police and IBAC make more use of conciliation as a way of effectively resolving complaints.
The Universities Australia 2017 Student Finances Survey report offers a disquieting perspective on Australian tertiary education.
The report states
The report states
The 2017 Universities Australia Student Finances Survey provides an evidence-based picture of the financial situation of students at Australian universities. Students from 38 Universities Australia (UA) member universities participated in the survey. The survey covers both domestic and international students at all levels of study.
It collects data on:
- Income and spending
- Paid work and its impact on study
- Access to income support
- The costs of living and studying
- Borrowing and debt
The 2017 survey follows earlier studies in 2012 and 2006. UA undertakes this study at regular intervals to provide our members, government and the public with a better understanding of students’ financial circumstances.
The 2017 report shows that many students are still ‘doing it tough’, to the extent of being unable to afford basic necessities and being forced to miss classes to work. While this report deals with the facts, it tells an important story of the type of lives being lived by students all around Australia.
While there has been slight improvement in domestic students’ financial circumstances overall, a significant proportion of students is doing it tough. Most domestic students are worried about their finances.
One-third of domestic students have estimated expenses that are greater than their estimated income.
Some groups of students (low SES, Indigenous and regional) are more likely to experience financial difficulty. Domestic students’ average income hasn’t increased since 2012, but average spending has fallen. Thus any improvement in students’ finances is not because students are earning more, but because they are spending less.
Income and Spending
Median annual income for full-time domestic undergraduate students is $18,300, while their median spending is $14,200. One-third of domestic undergraduate students have estimated expenses exceeding their estimated income. This figure is slightly higher for low SES (37 per cent) and regional (38 per cent) students.
Some 43 per cent of Indigenous students have income that doesn’t cover their expenses.
Studunts' concerns about their finances
Most domestic undergraduate students (58 per cent) are worried about their financial situation. Low SES students are more likely (63 per cent) to be worried about their finances, as are regional students (64 per cent).
Nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) of Indigenous students are worried about their finances. Only 38 per cent of domestic undergraduate students feel they are in control of their financial situation. This falls to 35 per cent of low SES students and only 27 per cent of Indigenous students.
Some students can't afford to eat
Some 15 per cent of domestic undergraduate students regularly go without food or necessities because they can’t afford them. Again, the figures are slightly higher for low SES (18 per cent) and regional (19 per cent) students. More than one in four Indigenous students regularly go without food or necessities.
More than four in five domestic undergraduate students (82 per cent) are in paid employment.
Full-time undergraduate students who work do a median of 12 hours per week. Nearly a third (30 per cent) of full-time domestic undergraduate students work more than 20 hours a week and more than 10 per cent work more than 30 hours. The share of students working more than 20 hours has increased steadily since earlier surveys.
More than one quarter of full-time domestic undergraduates regularly miss classes because they have to work. Some 41 per cent report that work has a negative impact on study.
For part-time domestic undergraduates, these figures rise to 36 per cent regularly missing classes to work and 52 per cent reporting that work has a negative impact on study. Only 35 per cent of students who work believe that their work/study balance is satisfactory. Some 39 per cent of domestic students say that their work has little value to them apart from the money.
A third of domestic undergraduates receive student income support (Austudy, ABSTUDY or Youth Allowance). Some 42 per cent of low SES students and 45 per cent of regional students receive student income support. Nearly half (49 per cent) of Indigenous domestic undergraduates receive student income support.
Most domestic undergraduate students (61 per cent) have some savings that they can draw on in case of serious financial difficulty. Of those who have savings, nearly half report that they have had to use them.
Low SES students (55 per cent) and regional students (57 per cent) are less likely to have savings that they can draw on. Fewer than half (42 per cent) of Indigenous students have savings.
More than half of regional domestic undergraduates with savings (52 per cent) report that they have had to draw on their savings.
Most of the debt for domestic students is made up of tuition fees deferred through the HELP scheme.
Full- time domestic undergraduate students’ median estimate of their debt at graduation is $38,200. For full-time domestic postgraduates, the median estimate is $54,100.
“... I now often eat meals at university, rely on friends to bring food over or pay for the ingredients so I can cook for them. I don’t eat much anymore ...” (Indigenous full-time undergraduate student)
“... The stress of constantly worrying about how to pay next [month’s] rent or simply paying for food is really hard.” (Domestic full-time undergraduate student)
Almost one in two (49.2 per cent) international undergraduate students have estimated expenses greater than their estimated income. International undergraduate students have a median income of $19,200 but a median annual spending of $20,000.
One half of international undergraduate students are in paid employment. International students who work do a median of 15 hours a week. Nine in ten (89 per cent) international undergraduate students are financially supported by family or partner.
Around 50 per cent of international undergraduate students are worried about their financial situation, compared to almost 60 per cent for full-time domestic students. Some 14 per cent regularly go without food or other necessities because they can’t afford them, which is consistent with domestic students.
Almost 55 per cent of international undergraduate students have some savings that they can draw on in case of serious financial difficulties, with 38 per cent of students reporting that they have had to use savings in 2017. International undergraduates estimate much higher levels of debt at graduation than domestic undergraduates. The median estimate is $68,000.
'Tourism beyond humans – robots, pets and Teddy bears', a paper by Stanislav Ivanov presented at the International Scientific Conference 'Tourism and Innovations' (14-15 September 2018, Varna) comments
Tourism is universally considered as an activity specifically reserved for humans. Although not explicitly stated, all definitions of tourism assume that the tourists are human beings. However, the advances in animal ethics, artificial intelligence and experience economy in the last decades indicate that this fundamental assumption might need revision. Travel agencies already offer trips for teddy bears, hotels have special pet policies, companies sell stones as pets, while social robots will force companies to adapt to the new technological realities. This paper focuses on these non-human travellers in tourism (home robots, pets and toys) and the specific strategic, operational and marketing issues they raise for tourist companies.Ivano argues
Tourism is universally considered as an activity specifically reserved for humans. Although not explicitly stated, all definitions of tourism assume that the tourists are human beings (see for example UN and UNWTO, 2010). But should it be so? Recent advances in animal ethics and wellbeing (Armstrong and Botzler, 2016; Fennell, 2012, 2013; Markwell, 2015; Sandøe, Corr and Palmer, 2016), artificial intelligence and robotics (Bhaumik, 2018; Miller and Miller, 2017; Neaplitan and Jiang, 2013; Russell and Norvig, 2016) and experience economy (Andersson, 2007; Kirillova, Lehto and Cai, 2017; Pine and Gilmore, 2011) indicate that this fundamental assumption might need revision. Travel agencies already offer trips for teddy bears (e.g. http://www.teddy-tour-berlin.de), hotels have special policies for the pets of their guests, companies sell stones as pets (e.g. http://www.petrock.com/), while social robots will force companies to adapt to the new technological realities (Agah, Cabibihan, Howard, Salichs, and He, 2016; Ivanov, 2017; Nørskov, 2016). The presence and the future influx of these non- human travellers in tourism (home robots, pets and toys) requires that we broaden our perspective on who the traveller is, how he/she/it is involved in tourism activities and how should travel, tourism and hospitality companies address the specific strategic, operational and marketing issues these non-human travellers raise. This paper contributes to the body of knowledge by focusing on the non-human travellers in tourism, their specific characteristics, the challenges faced by travel, tourism and hospitality companies in regard to these non-human travellers and the ways to cope with the challenges.
Non-humans are actively engaged in tourism and hospitality services. Table 1 provides some examples of animate and inanimate entities that are involved in the provision or the consumption of tourist services. The animate non-human entities have a long history and important role in tourism (e.g. animals in zoos, animals used for safaris, photo safaris or riding, or pets travelling with their owners) (Carr and Broom, 2018), while due to technical reasons the inanimate entities (like chat bots and robots) have only recently been adopted for provision of travel, tourism and hospitality services (e.g. Ivanov, Webster and Berezina, 2017). However, the delivery of tourist services for non-animate human entities is nearly non-existent and is mostly anecdotal. Non-animate entities are actually perceived as objects, items or things that lack consciousness, needs, wants, or desires, hence they are excluded by default from the list of potential consumers of travel, tourism and hospitality services. Nevertheless, the owners of these entities consume travel, tourism and hospitality services and travel together with their non-animate entities, thus tourist companies need to provide certain services for these entities (e.g. robot-friendly hospitality facilities, repair services, storage, etc.) in order to be able to serve their human customers. Moreover, some owners of inanimate non-human entities send them on trips (or ‘pseudo-trips’?), probably due to the need of ego enhancement (Ivanov, 2008; MacCannell, 2002) through stories in social media of their toy/robot undertaking a ‘tourist’ trip, sense of belonging to a specific social group, special emotional attachment to the entity or as a substitute or an extension of owner when (s)he cannot personally undertake such a trip to the destination. While the research literature is abundant of studies on travelling pets (Gretzel and Hardy, 2015; Hung, Chen and Peng, 2016; Kirillova, Lee and Lehto, 2015; Taillon, MacLaurin and Yun, 2015) and has already started to pay attention to robots and chatbots as service providers in tourism (Ivanov and Webster, 2018; Ivanov, Webster and Berezina, 2017; Ivanov, Webster and Garenko, 2018; Kuo, Chen and Tseng, 2017; Murphy, Hofacker and Gretzel, 2017; Tussyadiah and Park, 2018), our review of related literature has not revealed yet a study that deals with inanimate non-human travellers, besides two notable exceptions. Ivanov and Webster (2017a) focuses on the design of robot-friendly hospitality facilities and emphasises that the ability to serve guests’ own mobile robots would be a key competitive advantage for accommodation establishments in the future. In another paper, Ivanov and Webster (2017b), the same authors elaborate on the role of robots as consumers of services and set a research agenda for further studies in the field. This paper tries to partially fill in this gap and to delve deeper into the field of non-human travellers, i.e. the non-human ‘consumers’ of travel, tourism and hospitality services.'Revenge Against Robots' by Christina Mulligan in (2017-18) 69 South Carolina Law Review 579 comments
When a robot hurts a human, how should the legal system respond? Our first instinct might be to ask who should pay for the harm caused, perhaps deciding to rest legal liability with the robot's hardware manufacturer or its programmers. But besides considering tort or criminal actions against corporate and human persons, legal actors might also target the most immediate source of the harm the robot itself.
The notion of holding a robot accountable for its actions initially evokes absurd and amusing mental images - a prosecutor pointing to a smart toaster shouting, "And what do you have to say in your defense? Jury, note that the toaster says nothing. It says nothing because it is guilty." And it is easy to laugh at this scenario and brush the idea aside. But there are more rational ways to hold robots accountable for their actions and reasons why law and policy makers would want to do so.
This Essay proceeds by first exploring how vengeful responses to wrongdoing may provide significant psychological benefits to victims (Part II). It goes on to argue that taking revenge against wrongdoing robots, specifically, may be necessary to create psychological satisfaction in those whom robots harm and addresses the concern that punishing robots would psychologically injure humans (Part III). The Essay then shifts focus to robots themselves, arguing that it is justifiable for humans to blame robots for their actions because, like animals, autonomous robots are best understood as the causes of their own actions (as "agents") (Part IV). Finally, the Essay evaluates whether a robot's moral culpability is relevant to the issue of robot punishment (Part V) and considers how revenge against robots could be implemented (Part VI).‘Could AI Agents Be Held Criminally Liable: Artificial Intelligence and the Challenges for Criminal Law’ by Dafni Lima in (2017-18) 69 South Carolina Law Review 677 comments
For the past few decades, artificial intelligence (AI) seemed like something out of a science fiction work; the concept of a human-made intellect that could gain sufficient autonomy in order to make its own, independent choices is still quite unfamiliar for most. In recent years, rapid technological development has led to products that have evolved to increasingly incorporate Al elements. From smart products to drones to the Internet of Things, social reality has advanced beyond what was technologically feasible when relevant laws were drawn up and enacted. Smart technical systems that can operate in the absence of constant human input pose a set of questions particularly challenging for concepts salient for criminal law and its application in practice.
While in the past Al applications have been used more and more broadly in fields ranging from computer science to finance to medicine, we now stand on the verge of the first major breakthrough in widespread application of Al in a way that is recognizable by the mass public: autonomous vehicles.' Smart cars that can safely navigate traffic are hardly a fantasy anymore; they have been in development for some years now, and the first versions are already on the streets of major U.S. cities. In 2011, Nevada was the first state to allow and regulate the operation of autonomous vehicles, and as of 2017, thirty-three states have introduced legislation that is related to the issue; twenty of them have already passed relevant legislation, and a further five have seen relevant executive orders issued.
Operation of autonomous vehicles comes with great advantages: it will arguably increase mobility for social groups like the elderly or people with disabilities, it will provide greater safety on the road by providing a more restful travel for professional drivers and arguably guarantee increased adherence to traffic laws, as well as allow drivers to be more productive when travelling, as the autonomous car could take over for the most part. The future of autonomous cars is still not entirely shaped as versions based on a varying degree of automation are developed, some requiring a standby human driver and others being fully autonomous, yet autonomous vehicles in general rely heavily on Al in order to operate.
The advent of what seems to be the first mass application of Al in everyday life and in particular one that tremendously affects transportation - an essential human activity that is intensely regulated by law and where ample opportunities can arise for criminal law to intervene will undoubtedly have implications that will affect how criminal law is construed and how it is applied. More than that, it will provide an invaluable opportunity to revisit and reflect on traditional criminal law concepts such as personhood, harm, and blame since it will introduce a new "agent" into the traditional agency spectrum that is defined by capable human actors.'Fundamental Protections for Non-Biological Intelligences or: How We Learn to Stop Worrying and Love Our Robot Brethren' by Ryan Dowell in (2018) 19 Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology 305 comments
In the future, it is possible that humans will create machines that are thinking entities with faculties on par with humans. Computers are already more capable than humans at some tasks,1 but are not regarded as truly intelligent or able to think. Yet since the early days of computing, humans have contemplated the possibility of intelligent machines-those which reach some level of sentience. Intelligent machines could result from highly active and rapidly advancing fields of research, such as attempts to emulate the human brain, or to develop generalized artificial intelligence (AGI). If intelligent machines are created, it is uncertain whether intelligence would emerge through gradual development or a spontaneous emergence. Throughout this Note, such intelligent machines will be referred to as non-biological intelligences (NBIs), with emphasis on machines with human-analogous intelligence. Protection of NBIs, equivalent to protection of human research subjects, should be preemptively implemented to prevent injustice and potential grave harm to them.
In the Introduction, this Note introduces current standards by which we define a person, as well as several developing technologies that will challenge current definitions. Part I examines technologies that may result in non-biological intelligences that exhibit human mental capacities. It then examines the concept of personhood and its legal ramifications. Part II examines how these technologies fit (or don't) into existing legal frameworks and schema. Finally, in Part III, this Note proposes preemptive implementation of protections analogous to those for research on humans for NBIs, whether such an intelligence arises as a replica of human consciousness, as a de novo construct, or via unexpected means. Part III also touches on some intervening occurrences before the emergence of NBIs, which may begin to pave the legal path for more advanced technologies.
11 September 2018
'Knowledge of current abortion law and views on abortion law reform: a community survey of NSW residents' by Alexandra L. Barratt, Kevin McGeechan, Kirsten I. Black, Julie Hamblin and Caroline de Costa in (2018) Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health reports results of a community survey of 1,015 NSW residents’ knowledge of current abortion law and views on abortion law reform.
Some Seventy‐six per cent of respondents were unaware that abortion remains a criminal offence in the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) and 73% thought it should be decriminalised and regulated as a healthcare service. Support for decriminalisation was consistent across genders, age groups, residents of metropolitan/regional and rural areas and levels of education. Support was strong for women seeking abortion to be protected from harassment (89%) and for protester exclusion zones around clinics (81%), with support for these measures significantly stronger among regional/rural residents than Sydney‐based respondents.The authors conclude
Abortion law in NSW is out of step with contemporary community views. Residents are largely unaware that it remains a criminal offence and, when informed, support decriminalisation. There is strong support for legal changes to protect women from harassment and to provide protester exclusion zones around abortion clinics. the authors state Women's access to abortion is regulated according to different legislation in each Australian state and territory. In most states and territories, criminal laws have been reformed to provide statutory explanations of the circumstances in which abortion is legal. In the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) only, abortion has been removed completely from criminal law and is managed under health‐related laws. In New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland (QLD), however, the legal situation remains ambiguous and unlawful abortion remains a crime in both states.
In NSW, unlawful abortion is a criminal offence for a woman and for her doctor (or person administering the intervention) and is punishable by up to 10 years jail (Crimes Act 1900 [NSW] Part 3 Division 12).2 Subsequently, case law has established that abortion is lawful in NSW if the doctor has an honest opinion that continuing the pregnancy would be seriously harmful to the health of the woman.1 This test of lawfulness remains the basis on which abortion may be provided in NSW. Several efforts over time to remove abortion from criminal legislation have been unsuccessful, leaving NSW and Queensland as the only states where abortion law is still ultimately based on 19th century English law. The English law on which the provisions in relation to abortion were originally based, (Offences Against the Person Act), dates from 1861; similar provisions were removed from English law in 1967.
Against this background, Dr Mehreen Faruqi (a member of NSW Parliament for the Greens NSW party) introduced a Bill to the NSW parliament to reform abortion law. The Bill contained three main provisions. Firstly, it removed abortion from the Crimes Act 1900,4 as had been done previously in the ACT. Secondly, it provided for protester exclusion zones near abortion clinics so that women attending clinics would be protected from harassment by anti‐abortion protesters. Lastly, it required medical practitioners holding conscientious objections to give women information about their options for managing unplanned pregnancy, including referrals to practitioners or clinics where abortion is available, if desired. The Bill was debated but defeated in May 2017 by 25 votes to 14, despite endorsements of support from medical practitioners, public health professionals, nurses, lawyers and other community groups.
Previously, a community survey had been conducted in 2015 to inform the development of the Bill, and to ensure that the new legislation would reflect current community sentiment. The survey is significant as it is the first survey of NSW residents’ knowledge of abortion law in their state and the first to canvass community views on abortion law reform. Our aim in this paper is to report the methods and full results of the survey, and provide a detailed analysis of the results. Although previous surveys have measured support for legal access to abortion, information about the NSW community's knowledge of the law, as it stands currently in their state, and the community's views towards various options for abortion law reform were unknown prior to this survey.
They go on to comment A total of 1,015 NSW residents completed the survey: 431 men and 584 women, across age ranges from 18 to 65+ years (Table 1). Due to the sampling methodology, we were unable to estimate the response rate. Instead, we compared the sample characteristics with those of the general adult population of NSW in Census data (Table 1). The majority of respondents were living in the Sydney metropolitan area, with 41% (unweighted percentage) living in regional cities or rural areas of NSW. About 60% were married or living with a partner. In these characteristics, the sample was similar to the NSW population as described in Census data. However, the sample was more highly educated than the overall NSW population. Forty per cent of participants reported identifying with a particular religious belief.
Most respondents (73%) thought abortion should be decriminalised and regulated as a healthcare service, with 13% of respondents opposed to decriminalisation and 14% uncertain (Table 2). Support for decriminalisation was consistent across men and women and all age groups, with older citizens – especially older men – strongly supporting decriminalisation (see Supplementary File 2 – Supplementary Table). Support for decriminalisation was also consistent across all levels of educational attainment, with no significant differences by education (P=0.565). There was weak evidence that support for decriminalisation may be higher among regional and rural residents (77%) than among Sydney residents (71% support, P=0.068), see Table 3)
Most respondents (78%) thought there should be a legal responsibility for medical practitioners, regardless of their personal views, to provide referrals and objective information on options for unplanned pregnancy (Table 2). Views were divided as to whether medical practitioners should have the right to refuse an abortion if they hold a conscientious objection (50% thought they should have this right, and 36% thought they should not, with 13% undecided).
There was a strong majority view (89% agreed or strongly agreed) that women seeking abortion should be protected from harassment or any form of threatening behaviour. Consistent with this, 80% supported the establishment of protester exclusion zones around abortion clinics (Table 2).
In general, knowledge of the legal status of abortion, support for decriminalisation and support for protecting women were significantly higher among regional and rural respondents (Table 3). For example, 93% of regional and rural residents (vs. 87% Sydney residents) agreed that women seeking abortion should be protected (P=0.0021), and 86% (vs. 79% in Sydney, P=0.018) supported exclusion zones around abortion clinics. Support for these measures did not vary by level of educational attainment (data not shown).
Overall, 47% of respondents reported that they knew someone who had had an abortion, 56% of women and 38% of men. More regional/rural residents reported knowing someone who had had an abortion (53% regional/rural vs. 46% Sydney residents, P=0.030). Consistent with previous surveys, 58% of respondents thought women should be able to obtain an abortion readily and 29% that abortion should be allowed in some circumstances, and few respondents (5.6%) thought abortion should not be allowed in any circumstances.They note Discussion
We found three‐quarters of respondents in this survey were unaware that abortion is currently listed as a criminal offence in NSW legislation under the NSW Crimes Act, an Act that has been in force in NSW since 1900. Once informed, there was strong support for decriminalisation, with approximately three‐quarters of respondents stating that abortion should be decriminalised and regulated as a healthcare service. Majority support for decriminalisation was consistent across men and women and all age groups and was supported by more regional/rural residents than Sydney residents. There was a strong majority view (89%) that women seeking abortion should be protected from harassment or any form of threatening behaviour. Consistent with this, 80% supported the establishment of protester exclusion zones around abortion clinics. Almost half the respondents (47%) reported they knew someone who had had an abortion. Of note, more regional and rural residents knew someone who had had an abortion, thought abortion should be decriminalised and thought women seeking abortion should be protected from harassment. Abortion clinics in some rural centres, notably Albury on the border of NSW and Victoria, are subject to strong protester activity. This presents an impediment to access and engenders feelings of stigma and intimidation among women attending the facilities. These barriers may explain why there was stronger support for decriminalisation in regional and rural respondents in NSW. ....
NSW and Queensland remain the only Australian states that still retain criminal offences for abortion dating from the 19th century. In Queensland, decriminalisation and law reform is under active consideration; whereas, in NSW there are no current plans towards decriminalisation. It is unclear why the NSW parliament is so out of step with community opinion and with legal changes in other Australian jurisdictions. One reason may be the existence of strong, socially conservative factions in each of the two major political parties in the NSW parliament, with the result that NSW abortion law reform has lacked an effective champion. This, together with the influence of socially conservative minor parties, appears to have prevented legislative change longer in NSW than in other Australian jurisdictions. In Queensland, there has also been little political support for abortion law reform in the past. However, the issue is currently being considered by the Queensland Law Reform Commission, and it is possible that any recommendations made by the Law Reform Commission will form the basis of legislation to decriminalise abortion in Queensland.
For NSW women, accessing abortion is likely to remain challenging, especially for those in regional and rural areas. Despite hope that PBS subsidisation of medical abortion would make abortion much more accessible,9, 10 uptake of medical abortion is still relatively low and the majority of women choose surgical abortion.11 Surgical abortion, however, remains mainly limited to large metropolitan centres where abortion is provided through a number of clinics that operate as fee‐for‐service clinics, as most public hospitals do not provide abortion in NSW. This situation results in the capacity to pay limiting access for some women, especially rural residents. In a recent study of Australian women having an abortion, 25% of women reported travelling more than one hour to have it and an additional 11% reported having to stay overnight. Median out‐of‐pocket costs were $470, even with the Medicare rebate. Costs were higher for abortions performed after 13 weeks, and for women who had to travel more than four hours. A total of 34% of women said they found it difficult/very difficult to pay for the abortion. Women who experienced difficulties paying for the abortion were more likely to present for later abortion, suggesting that access remains a barrier to timely abortion provision.
Finally, unlike other women in Australia, NSW women remain unable to make their own decision about whether or not to have an abortion and remain reliant on doctors to make this judgement for them, raising questions about the adequacy of women's autonomy and reproductive rights.