Why do we need a new branch of engineering?

The 3A Institute sits within the School of Cybernetics with the mission to build a new branch of engineering to take AI-enabled cyber-physical systems to scale and to create a new generation of practitioners with the skills and knowledge we need to help shape this future safely, sustainably and responsibly.

As people invent, commercialise and operationalise new technologies, new practitioners emerge to manage them. Just as the invention of programmable computers led to the professionalisation of software engineers, cyber-physical systems will lead to a new type of engineer.

We don’t know what this new type of engineering will be called yet, but we know we need it if we are to build a safe, sustainable and responsible future.

And we know that we need to be explicit about values along the way. So we are shaping a different set of conversations about people, technology and the environment, conversations that will include voices from unexpected places. We are looking to cybernetics as an approach to scale the future, to make sense of the systems that shape our world and create the next generation of critical thinkers and doers.

How else can we navigate this data-driven, digital world, and make it into a place that reflects all our humanity, all our cultures and all our cares, and ensures that we are responsible custodians of planet earth?

Why cybernetics?

The School of Cybernetics was established in early 2021 at the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science as one of three Schools: Engineering, Computing and Cybernetics.

Our programs blend education, research and engagement to support our students, collaborators and publics to tackle the challenges posed by technology at scale. We focus on systems – rather than specific technologies, or disciplines—as the unit of analysis.

Cybernetics offers a way of transcending boundaries, of thinking in systems and ensuring that humans, technology and the physical environment are in the frame as technology advances and transforms the world around us. It is a way to imagine humans steering technical systems safely through the world.

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Our approach

In the School of Cybernetics, we are committed to shaping a different set of conversations about people, technology and the environment. We believe in engaging with people where difficult decisions are made every day: in workplaces, in governments, in industries and in academia.

If we want to choose a different future, then we need many voices in the conversation. We are committed to working with people who are shaping and shaped by technologies around us: those who are involved in designing, building, managing, regulating and decommissioning technologies, and those whose work and life intersect with these technologies.

Partners

We partner with industry, start-ups, government, community organisations and academia, to think differently about the future. This work ranges across making sense of emerging technology, using speculative futures to surface values, obstacles and paths forward and developing new educational and learning experiences.

We are committed to working with people who are shaping and shaped by technologies around us: those who are involved in designing, building, managing, regulating and decommissioning technologies, and those whose work and life intersect with these systems. Organisations that have contributed over $10,000 to the School since January 2021, when the School was established, are noted below. This page will be updated as further contributions exceeding $10,000 are received.

  • Microsoft Australia
  • KPMG Australia
  • National Library of Australia
  • Menzies Foundation
  • Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI)
  • Department of Defence (support for Master of Applied Cybernetics)
  • Commonwealth Bank of Australia1 (support for Master of Applied Cybernetics)

More about us

Fancy a chat?

The School of Cybernetics is the home of the 3A Institute, located in the College of Engineering and Computer Science at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. Send us an email or give us a call on +61 2 6125 8121.

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  1. Distinguished Professor Genevieve Bell is a non-executive director on the board of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (2019-present). Professor Bell has no role in negotiating the commercial arrangements between CBA and ANU, and does not personally benefit from this arrangement. 

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