Michael J Crouch Chair for Innovation

University of New South Wales (UNSW)


My research is transdisciplinary and focuses on digital transformation, behavioural design, decision making, data science and AI technology. I use human-centric methods from behavioural economics, choice theory, belief revision, machine learning, artificial intelligence and design thinking. Applications include entrepreneurship, explainable AI (XAI), data analytics, social robots, and automated decision making for business.


I focus on innovation, entrepreneurship, and digital transformation. My methods are founded on building to learn and learning by doing. I use transdisciplinary approaches and models from data science, behavioural design, computer science, artificial intelligence, human decision making, design thinking, business, strategic management, risk management, law and ethics. 


I come from a long line of entrepreneurs with a strong sense of fun, adventure, commitment, persistence and accountability. My role at UNSW is focused on delivering value to key stakeholders: students, staff, alumni and the wider innovation ecosystem. I help guided researchers and student founders to develop the leadership skills they need to navigate their entrepreneurial journey.


I work with industry, the professions and government to bring radical innovation and practical methods to business challenges to create new opportunity. Partners include the United Nations,  IBM, Google, Sony, Softbank, EY, Gartner, PwC, Apple, CBA, CNRS France, Lund University Sweden, and Stanford University.


I explore and experiment with disruptive technologies that create new value and that have the potential to disturb existing value pools unleashing extraordinary opportunity and strategic benefits for business and society.


I design transformative educational experiences that are exciting, engaging, and fun. Changing mindsets, enabling new strategies through the discovery of new insights and newfound confidence for leadership and innovation.

Making an Impact

with Safe and Sociable Artificial Intelligence

Today's innovations and entrepreneurship are having an unprecedented impact on business and society. The key challenge is the design and development of real-world human-AI collaboration.

Enjoy our BBC story on social impact.



Leading teams of researchers and transforming business using innovative systems for more than 30 years. The first business system I designed, developed and deployed was a fully customised database management system based on a hashing algorithm for rapid retrieval on a IBM PC in 1984.



Envisioning, negotiating, leading and executing challenging complex projects such as sophisticated computing and social robot systems, groundbreaking research projects, and innovative large scale training programs including 12 Australian Research Council Discovery and Linkage projects.



Creating significant new value for students, the university, alumni, research collaborators and partners through purposeful focus and powerful technology insights.

Brief Bio

Mary-Anne Williams is an AAAI Fellow and the Michael J Crouch Chair for Innovation at the University of New South Wales. AAAI is the peak global body for Artificial Intelligence. At UNSW she founded and leads the UNSW Business AI Lab, and is Deputy Director of the UNSW AI Institute.

Previously Mary-Anne was Distinguished Research Professor and Founding Director of the Innovation and Enterprise Research Lab at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) from 2002. She has a PhD in Artificial Intelligence (University of Sydney) and a Master in Laws (University of Edinburgh). She is a Fellow at Stanford University, and at the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE). Mary-Anne is a leading authority on AI with transdisciplinary strengths in Human-Ai Collaboration, Responsible AI, Explainable AI, Strategic Management, Disruptive Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Computer Science, Decision Making, Machine Learning, Human-Robot Interaction, Ethics and Law.

Mary-Anne is a recipient of two Google Faculty Awards in Machine Learning 2019-2020 and 2021-2022, and the 2019 Australasian Distinguished Artificial Intelligence Contribution Award. She also led the UTS Social Robotics team to win the 2019 RoboCup World Championship in Social Robotics where robots face increasingly complex decision making challenges aimed at helping humans in a home environment.

Mary-Anne is a Fellow in the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) and chair of the Digital Futures Forum. She previously chaired  the Australian Research Council's Excellence in Research for Australia Committee that undertook a national evaluation of research in Mathematics, Information and Computing Sciences in 2012. Mary-Anne was a non-executive director of the US-based Scientific Foundation KR Inc for more than 10 years, Conference Chair for the 2021 Australasian Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, and serves on the Editorial Board for AAAI/MIT Press, the Information Systems Journal and the International Journal of Social Robotics. Previously Conference Chair of the International Conference on Social Robotics in 2014, the first Australian based researcher invited to be Review Editor Artificial Intelligence Journal and the first to be invited to serve on the ACM Eugene L. Lawler Award Committee for Humanitarian Contributions within Computer Science and Informatics.

Current Focus: Safe and Sociable Human-AI Collaboration

Artificial Intelligence (AI) that can enhance, improve and scale human expertise is dramatically changing and impacting our social and working lives, influencing how we perceive and interact with the physical and digital world. 

Society is rapidly moving into the AI-Age where individuals, citizens, societal groups, businesses, governments and the global economy increasingly rely on the perceptions, decisions and actions of AI. 

Human-AI collaboration is the study of how humans and AI work together to accomplish tasks and shared goals. 

My research focuses on addressing the significant barriers and risks that prevent AI from delivering the extraordinary benefits it has the potential to generate. Today, AI can outperform humans in making predictions, but it cannot explain its predictions to humans. People are often unable to find the insights fro blackbox AI technologies to fully realise the benefit of AI. Without insights and understanding, humans cannot demonstrate the extent to which AI algorithms are safe, fair and responsible. This is an urgent problem that needs to be solve. We need robust AI solutions to unlock the benefits for business, society and humanity.

A related research focus is explainable AI. Today, however, AI is not transparent or accountable, unable to explain perceptions, decisions and actions. AI that cannot explain its behaviour and decisions is a significant problem for business, government and society. 

People need explanations to develop trust and confidence in AI, execute AI recommendations, and accept AI actions and outcomes. Furthermore, regulators insist that business, industry and government demonstrate that their AI algorithms comply with the law. How will AI systems avoid discrimination against specific groups, and comply with anti-discrimination law?

My current focus is on developing new approaches to eXplainable AI (XAI) as a means of making AI more transparent, accountable, and trustworthy. Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to have a profound impact on all aspects of business, government and civil society. To help bring more clarity and to explore potential solutions to the rapidly growing urgent issues, we launched the AI Policy Hub in 2018.

You can find one of my papers at the Royal Society that outlines how Australia can lead in the new AI-driven world. It is provides a summary of a presentation to the four esteemed national academies at NSW Government House in Australia in November 2018. 

A quote from more than a decade ago on Disruptive Innovation. 

"Major advances in cognitive technologies over the last few years will lead to the disruptive adoption of autonomous systems that can think for themselves."

Mary-Anne Williams

 Thinking for the Future 2009

We are still not there yet, but we are getting tantalizingly close ...


Artificial Intelligence Transforming Healthcare

in collaboration with the South Western Sydney Local Health District

Language Translation


Question and Answering

How many languages can you speak or understand? AI can translate across more than 100 languages.  Can humans do that?

The South Western Sydney Local Health District is multilingual and one of the fastest growing areas of Sydney. 

Personal Health

AI can help humans make much better decisions to make the present and future more enjoyable and prosperous.  

Social robots are able to focus and pay attention 24/7. They do not transmit viruses or inflection. They can disinfect large spaces with high accuracy with UV light.

Social robots can enhance the hospital experience for healthcare professionals, patients and visitors.

Meet our Champion RoboCup Social Robotics Team

In 2019 (Sydney Australia) our Social Robotics RoboCup Team became World Champions. We are contemplating defending our title at the next RoboCup championships in 2021 (Bordeaux France).

Our team UTS Unleashed! was established in 2017. Social robots are an emerging disruptive technology for human-centric business environments.

We won the Human-Robot Interface Award and came second in 2017 (Nagoya Japan) and 2018 (Montreal Canada) at the International RoboCup Championships.

The RoboCup opportunity enriches our unique research partnership with Softbank Robotics, strengthens our exciting partnerships with CBA and the South Western Sydney Local Health District, and opens the door to new collaborations and partnerships.

Distinguished Professor Steve Wozniak (Woz) with PhD Students Meg, Sammy and Chand.

Distinguished Professor Steve Wozniak (Woz) with Jesse, Chand, Meg, Neil, Sammy and Le.

CBA-UTS Social Robotics Partnership 


I led the UTS side of the CBA-UTS Social Robotics Academic-Industry Partnership. 

Invited Speaking Engagements and Presentations 

Updated list of presentations is here

Strategic Management Society

Berkeley Conference 2020

AI and Management

AI and Human Decision Making

Thoughtworks AI Symposium 2020

Academy of Marketing Science

2019 Conference, Vancouver

Special Session on AI and Customer Experience

Australian Academy of Science

Changing Lives with Science  

Speaker Series 2019

How AI and Robotics is changing lives

2019 Explainable AI Conference


Can we hold AI accountable?

2018 Thales Leadership Conference


Autonomous Artificial intelligence

Queensland Premiers Department

Leadership Series 2018

Innovation and Collaboration: How AI is Transforming Government

The Royal Society 2018

Government House

The AI Race: Will Australia Lead or Lose?

2018 International Conference on Human Rights, Innovation and Technology

Australian Human Rights Commission.

2018 Cybersecurity MasterClass

Australian Policy Strategic Institute

Distinguished Professor Lecture

Manager / Company

Artificial Intelligence Supremacy: Will Australia Lead or Lose in an AI-world

2018 United Nations WSIS Forum on the Impact of AI


2018 Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things

Australian British Chamber of Commerce and KPMG.

2018 Future Law

Stanford University

2018 Chief Customer Engagement Forum Sydney

2018 Stanford Executive Program on Cybersecurity and AI

2017 FST Banking Summit 

Social Robotics and Customer Experience

2017 Connect Expo & The Digital Health Show 

Social Robotics for Business

2017 World Science Festival 

Frankenstein Anxiety: Robotics and the Replacement of Ourselves.

Disruptive Innovation Week 2017

Invited Speaker and Advisory Board 

2017 Women in STEM 

Women in Science Society

University of Sydney

AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence 2017

Mentor at the Women's Event         San Francisco, USA

2017 Rise of the AI: How will it affect your Future


Market St, Sydney"

A full list of Invited Presentations is also available here.


CSIRO Double Helix Magazine: 

Understanding Consciousness

School Resource Book on Drones, Droids and Robots. The Magic Lab is featured on page 16 in the Drone, Droids and Robotics Resource Book 2016

Presentation Examples

The Robot Revolution presented at the       Australian Academy of Science 2015

WestPac sponsored video inspiring young women to take up careers in Information Technology 2007. More than 19,000 views on YouTube and available as a DVD in every school library in NSW.

Artifical Intelligence Panel at PauseFest, Melbourne

Magic Lab Video Examples

UTS Pepper Robot introducing ABC Lateline 2017

This short movie won the Most Entertaining Autonomous Robotics Video at IJCAI in Beijing 2013.

Samsung sponsored Robot Demo at the Digital Life Exhibition Melbourne 2012. Dance created by Benjamin Johnston.

Driverless cars are social robots.

Robot Soccer Videos