Director, Innovation and Enterprise Research Lab

RESEARCH

My research is transdisciplinary and focuses on behavioural, decision and data sciences. I use human-centric methods from behavioural economics, choice theory, belief revision, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Applications include explainable AI (XAI), data analytics, social robots, and automated decision making in a wide range of settings.


INNOVATION AND ENTERPRISE

I focus on innovation, digital transformation and entrepreneurship. 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. 


ENTREPRENEURSHIP

I come from a long line of entrepreneurs with a strong sense of fun and adventure. The Magic Lab is like a startup designed to deliver value to our stakeholders: students, partners and angel investors. We guide researchers and student founders helping them develop the leadership skills they need to navigate their entrepreneurial journey.

ENGAGEMENT

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

DISRUPTIVE INNOVATION

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

EXECUTIVE AND RESEARCH TRAINING

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

Making a Social Impact

with Sociable Artificial Intelligence

Today's innovations and entrepreneurship are having an unprecedented  social impact on business and society.

Enjoy our BBC story on social impact.

30+ 

YEARS OF EXPERIENCE

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.

75+

PROJECTS COMPLETED

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.

100%

FOCUSED

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

Brief Bio

Mary-Anne Williams is a Distinguished Professor and Director of the Magic Lab at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). She has a PhD in Computer Science (University of Sydney) and a Master in Laws (University of Edinburgh). Mary-Anne is a Fellow at Stanford University, and at the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE). She is a leading authority on Data Science and AI with transdisciplinary strengths in Strategic Management, Disruptive Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Computer Science, Autonomous Decision Making, Machine Learning, Robotics, Ethics, IP Law, and Privacy Law.

In 2019 Mary-Anne won a Google Faculty Award in Machine Learning and the 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 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. She is a non-executive director of the US-based Scientific Foundation KR Inc., 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.

Mary-Anne has a passion for digital transformation. She established the Innovation and Enterprise Research Lab (aka The Magic Lab) in 2002, which includes Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Inc. Woz is a Distinguished Adjunct Professor and actively engages with researchers and students in the Magic Lab. The research objective of this group is to bring science fiction to reality through the design of intelligent autonomous technologies that can learn and adapt as they interact and work with people.

Current Focus: Explainable Artificial Intelligence

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. 

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

and

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 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 

2016-2020

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

Invited Speaking Engagements and Presentations 

Australian Academy of Science

Changing Lives with Science  

Speaker Series 2019

How AI and Robotics is changing lives

Academy of Marketing Science

2019 Conference, Vancouver

Special Session on AI and Customer Experience


2019 Explainable AI Conference

USA

Can we hold AI accountable?

2018 Thales Leadership Conference

Melbourne

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

Geneva

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

Vivant

Market St, Sydney"

A full list of Invited Presentations is also available here.

PORTFOLIO

School Resource Book on Drones, Droids and Robots 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