UWA Tech & Policy Lab
Experimental. Power-shifting. Rule-breaking and rule-making.
The UWA Tech & Policy Lab is an interdisciplinary research centre focused on civic accountability in the tech ecosystem.
Founded and led by Assoc. Professor Julia Powles and Professor Jacqueline Alderson, the Lab draws together expertise in technology, law and governance, biomechanics and bioengineering, infrastructure, data analytics and machine learning, and augmented/virtual/extended reality technologies.
The Lab is proudly based in UWA Law School in the stunning city of Perth, Western Australia, and hosts a team of 20 senior and junior researchers, staff, and affiliates. We call them: the Playmakers.
Why we exist
We are mission-driven, culture-first, and determined to make a dent on tackling lawlessness in the technology ecosystem. By ‘lawlessness’, we mean that there is no jurisdiction in the world with laws, policies, and institutions to effectively govern the tech ecosystem and, through that, to protect people and communities.
We’ve permitted the world’s most powerful companies – the likes of Google, Facebook, Uber, and Microsoft/OpenAI – to operate in a state of exception, reaping massive profits and stockpiling swathes of highly intimate information about us in the process. We need to end this exceptionalism. And we need better tech that serves the public interest.
A lab for law and technology, tuned to politics and power. Pro-public. Collective. Future-making.
The UWA Tech & Policy Lab works with a number of inspiring research collaborators nationally and internationally. These include:
- In the United States, the University of California Los Angeles’ Center for Critical Internet Inquiry (C2i2) and Center on Race & Digital Justice (CRDJ), led by Professors Sarah T. Roberts (C2i2) and Safiya U. Noble (CRDJ).
- In India, the reputed Bangalore-based think tank, IT for Change, led by Executive Director Anita Gurumurthy and Deputy Director Nandini Chami (co-investigators on a major DFAT grant under the Australia-India Cyber and Critical Technologies Partnership, 2023-25).
- In the United Kingdom, the University of Cambridge’s Compliant and Accountable Systems Group, led by Professor Jatinder (Jat) Singh.
- In Australia, the University of Melbourne’s Centre for AI and Digital Ethics, led by Professor Jeannie M. Paterson, and the Australian National University’s Justice and Technoscience Lab, led by Professor Kathryn (Kate) Henne.
Funding and history
The Lab receives support from a range of government, industry, and University sources, including from nationally competitive research grants. We maintain the highest standards of academic integrity and are committed to the autonomy and independence of our researchers to pursue work free of external influence.
The Lab is the successor entity to the Minderoo Tech & Policy Lab, which received independent gift funding from Australian charity Minderoo Foundation in 2020 and 2021. The Lab and its researchers have no ongoing affiliation with Minderoo Foundation.
The Lab commenced operations in October 2020. In November 2023, the Lab was formally recognised as a University Strategic Research Centre.