The centre’s work will seek solutions to this and to chart a course for the future.
“We cannot again allow technological change to outpace our answers to technological change,” says Professor DeBats.
“We cannot leave people behind who are vulnerable and who are frightened, not just for themselves but for their children.
“And that is the most important mission of this centre.”
Jeff Bleich, who is now based in San Francisco, was appointed as ambassador to Australia by President Obama in 2009 and held the post through 2013. He is a longstanding friend of Flinders and received an honorary doctorate from the University in March, 2014.
Ambassador Bleich, who is also chairman of the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board in the US, draws on history to explain why he agreed to help establish the JBC.
“It’s not just a matter of learning the lessons of history, but also acting now to protect future generations. Every massive technological disruption has created an opportunity in the short-term to exploit others. But doing that inevitably imperils long-term peace, and has always produced wars, economic collapse
and failure. The people who built the international liberal order were willing to make sacrifices, and act in a far-sighted way; rebuilding their adversaries, developing trustworthy markets, forging agreements
about dangerous technologies and fashioning a rules-based order.”
“I think the lesson from history is not just ‘don’t make the same mistakes’ but, make the choice now to sacrifice and serve for the next generation,” he says.
“My other big lesson at Flinders is that when Don has a vision, don’t stand in the way of it, just go along for the ride.”
The initial focus of the JBC will be the analysis of the strategic social science implications of new technologies with respect to the Australia-United States defence and security relationship.
In this, the centre will capitalise on the existing collaborative relationship with the Defence Science and Technology group (DST) in cyber research projects, and it will extend Flinders’ social science research capacity in blockchain applications to defence.
The research program will work with the major defence initiatives being developed in South Australia as well as major industry players with a large investment in the future of security – Australian banks, and legal, data and ICT companies, both in Australia and in California.
Ambassador Bleich’s Californian link and close ties to initiatives in the US state around cyber research and security (including water security) will not only benefit the JBC, but also the National Centre for Ground Water Research and Training based at Flinders, and South Australia’s collaborative Goyder Institute for Water Research. These ties will also help to extend Flinders’ strengths in autonomous vehicles and AI start-ups, and assist in expanding Flinders’ international collaboration with California universities, companies and institutes.