Call for papers
International Conference on
Automated Decision-Making and Chinese Societies
1-3 February 2023, RMIT University, Australia
China’s rise as a digital superpower has been part of the story about the country’s second coming as the “Central Kingdom” and of Xi Jinping’s “Chinese Dream”. Beijing’s digital strategy is multi-dimensional. It is technological—automated decision-making (ADM) technologies and systems, comprising an arrange of intelligent and emerging technologies from artificial intelligence, machine learning, to blockchain, are used to innovate social governance, service provision, transport/mobility, and knowledge production across many sectors. It is also beyond the technological to encompass a wide range of areas in social, institutional, cultural, legal and ethical domains. The imperative for COVID-19 pandemic control provides the perfect pretext for the expansive use of ADM by the bio-surveillance Party-state.
The ramification of the digital revolution is not bound by any geographic boundaries, even though it is constrained by the geopolitics of China’s rise as the new technological superpower. New forms of ADM systems are experimented in China—often pioneered by its tech giants like Huawei, DJI, Hikvision, and BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent) with the state’s support—such as the social credit system (and associated technological systems) in a gigantic social experiment with digital governance, often in combination with and implemented through low-tech or non-tech means. A new global digital architecture and order is taking shape, as exemplified by the many infrastructural projects through the digital silk road initiative, from undersea cables and 5G equipment and networks to communications satellites (China’s version of SpaceX’s Starlink). China has seized the opportunity to leapfrog from being a follower to a competitor and leader in the design, control, and use of ADM technologies and systems. It is also competing with Western (American) powers to control huge amount of data internationally, and by extension resources, ideas, intelligence, and power.
The international conference on Automated Decision-Making and Chinese Societies (ADM & CS) aims to bring together global researchers and students doing cutting-edge research on digital China, particularly in the field of Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADMS) in the Chinese contexts. The conference encourages people to look beyond “China” as a singular, unified entity, which can be “sliced” along human, geographical, political, or economic variables. Similarly, “Chinese” can mean different things to different Chinese diasporic communities around the world, often defined and redefined along the routes (instead of roots) of Chinese migrants (of generations), visitors, investors, entrepreneurs, engineers, and workers. Hence, the conference encourages an expansive interpretation of “Chinese societies” in their plural, evolving, and diverse forms, who are sometimes centrifugal and other times centripetal in relation to the People’s Republic of China.
The ADM + CS conference asks the following indicative questions:
How is ADMS understood in the Chinese context? And who are the key players/stakeholders?
What are its key features and trajectories?
What is China’s ambition in the area of ADM, domestically and internationally?
How are ADM technologies and systems used in different settings and institutions in Chinese societies?
How are ADM systems governed? For example, will China’s Personal Information Protection Law set a global standard in regulating Internet platforms conducting automated decision-making through algorithms?
What’s China’s role in the current debates on frameworks in governing data security, rights or ownership, ethics, and transactions?
What are the new, emerging or hidden dynamics and politics in Chinese communities around the world as they encounter or engage with ADM technologies and systems in their everyday life and businesses?
How do people—Chinese, non-Chinese, or foreign citizens of Chinese cultural heritage —view or interpret China’s roles in ADM? And why?
What do Western anxieties about digital China and its ADM systems like the social credit system tell us about the new geopolitics between China and the West/US?
What roles Chinese societies can play in ensuring fair, inclusive, responsible, and ethical ADM systems that benefit the people rather than the few with power, money and knowledge?
We invite scholars, researchers, public policy makers, journalists and commentators, and industry analysts to address issues around and beyond these suggestive questions.
The ADM+CS conference features keynote plenary sessions, regular panels and workshops. The plenary sessions feature keynote speakers and discussants, all distinguished scholars in their specific fields in and beyond digital China related research. The keynotes will provide framing, provocations and questions from different disciplinary backgrounds to kick off the event, while the plenary speakers and discussants will bring their deep expertise towards unpacking specific tracks and topics.
Xin Dai, Associate Professor of Law, Peking University
Malavika Jayaram, Executive Director, Digital Asia Hub
Mark Andrejevic, Professor of Communications & Media Studies, Monash University
Plenary speakers and discussants (confirmed):
Rogier Creemers, Leiden University
Jack Qiu, National University of Singapore
Min Jiang, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Nicholas Loubere, Lund University
Jun Liu, University of Copenhagen
Florian Schneider, Leiden University
Rachel Douglas-Jones, IT University of Copenhagen
Dev Lewis, Digital Asia Hub
15 October 2022, abstract submission. Please submit an abstract of 500 words (including references) that states the paper’s main argument, method, and contribution. Abstracts should be accompanied by a short biography for each author (approx. 200 words). Please send your abstract to Professors Haiqing Yu (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Jesper Willaing Zeuthen (email@example.com).
28 October 2022, decision on abstracts
Format: This is a hybrid conference, with Zoom access for all sessions/panels to enable people who cannot travel to Melbourne to participate in the conference. The conference will be held at RMIT’s City/CBD campus. There is no registration fee.
Visa: Please let us know if you need support/invitation letters for visa purposes.
Travel stipends: There is limited funding available for travel costs. Priority will be given to postgraduate students and early career researchers. Please let us know if you will need this when you submit your abstract.
This conference is organised by ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society at RMIT University (Australia), in collaboration with CatCh Network (Denmark).
We look forward to seeing you, either in person or online, and celebrate the 2023 Chinese Spring Festival together at the conference. Melbourne summer (in Feb) is warm and lovely. Melbourne CBD is famous for its vibrant multicultural food, activities, and culture. Celebrating the Chinese New Year in Melbourne will be a memorable event. The conference will ensure due respect to Chinese tradition and culture as we get together as a big family.