Katina Michael

Professor Katina Michael is the director of the Society Policy Engineering Collective (SPEC) and holds a joint appointment in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and School of Computing, Informatics and Decision Systems Engineering at Arizona State University.

Michael’s research focuses on the social implications of emerging technologies, with an emphasis on national security. She investigates privacy, security, data rights, trust, ethics and human rights by using the codesign process to grant citizenry an opportunity to participate in large scale systems development that affect their everyday lives. Michael has experience volunteering for NGOs, but also presenting to government agencies, engaging industry experts, and raising awareness of socio-technical-legal issues facing every day consumers, using the mass media as a vehicle for communication.

Previously Michael was associate dean international at the University of Wollongong (UOW), Australia, where she was employed in the School of Computing and Information Technology since 2002. She has held visiting academic appointments at Nanjing University (China) and the University of Southampton (U.K.) and has taught at the Singapore Institute of Management, as well as overseeing UOW engineering and information science courses in eight campuses in five countries.

She was previously employed as a senior network engineer at Nortel Networks (1996–2001). She has also worked as a systems analyst at Andersen Consulting (1996) and OTIS Elevator Company (1994).

Michael is a prolific writer, editor, and conference and workshop host with a long resume of contributions to publications in IEEE and the broader interdisciplinary community. In 2017, Michael was awarded the Brian M. O’Connell Distinguished Service Award from the Society for the Social Implications of Technology. She is the founding editor-in-chief of the IEEE Transactions on Technology and Society, which will be launched in 2020.


Alan Winfield, Katina Michael, Jeremy Pitt, Vanessa Evers, 2019, “Machine Ethics: The Design and Governance of Ethical AI and Autonomous Systems,” Proceedings of the IEEE, Volume 107, number 3, pp. 509-517.
L.J. Robertson, R. Abbas, G. Alici, A. Munoz, K. Michael, 2019,  “Engineering-Based Design Methodology for Embedding Ethics in Autonomous Robots,” Proceedings of the IEEE, pp. 582 - 599.
K. Michael, R. Monteleone, 2019, “Consumer Electronic Instrument Search and Seizure at International Borders: New Laws Allow Border Agents to Demand Passwords for Digital Devices,” IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine, 8(2), 90-93.

Anas Aloudat, Ons Al-Shamaileh, Katina Michael, “Why some people do not use Facebook?” Social Network Analysis and Mining, Issue 1/2019

Katina Michael, R. Monteleone, “Microchipping People is a “Bad Idea”: An Interview with Andreas Sjostrom,” IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Vol. 38, No. 2 , June 2019, pp. 18-22, 39.
K. Michael, 2018, Brain Pacemakers in Consumer Medical Electronics Improve Quality of Life: Benefits, Risks, and Challenges, IEEE Consumer Electronics Magazine, 7(4), 82-85.
R.I. Ogie, P. Perez, K.T. Win, K. Michael, 2018, “Managing hydrological infrastructure assets for improved flood control in coastal mega-cities of developing nations,” Urban Climate, 24, pp. 763-777.


From Tattoos to Chips: Perceptions of Body Modification

From the ancient tradition of tattooing to the modern trend toward functional RFID chip implants, body modification has always been a critical element of human socialization. Increasingly, modification has become tightly coupled with technological intervention, yet the relationship between traditional forms of body modification and technoscientific innovations remains under-researched. This project seeks to understand the relationship between various forms of body modification, from relatively socially accepted forms such as tattooing and piercing, to more contentious forms including functional implants. This project seeks to engage with two sets of stakeholders – tattoo artists and functional chip sellers/resellers – to understand the decision to adopt (or not adopt) chip implantation as part of service delivery, identify individual business codes of conduct around body modification, their relationship to internal and external policies and regulations, and the complex relationship between body modifications on the body (i.e. tattoos), through the body (i.e. piercings), and in the body (i.e. subdermal nonfunctional implants  and chip implants).

Implant Ethics

Microchipping people once considered a science-fiction myth, is now an area of enquiry in its own right. While the novelty of a radio-frequency identification (RFID) device under the skin is debatable, as are the myriad of applications that DIYers tinker with; futuristic-style products/services are now being offered by commercial entities, even offering encryption. Why do people get microchip implants? What can they do with these devices? This project predominantly focuses on implant ethics- that technology that is not merely warn or imprinted onto the surface of the body, but trespasses into the subdermal layer of the skin. What are the social implications related to data rights: of the body, of information stored, personally identifiable data, and more? This project is fundamentally about stakeholder engagement, and the rights of implantees, and the general public, where there are people with various levels of upgrades. It makes use of examples such as Elon Musk’s Neuralink technology among others for comparison.

Privacy and Security Issues Arising from Blanket Coverage Biometrics-driven AI

Privacy and security issues have long been considered non-functional specifications of information systems. Using approaches as laid out in the privacy and security by design methodology, this study examines modern day biometric-driven AI systems for surveillance and monitoring applications. The social credit system in China is examined, alongside cases in Britain, Australia and the United States. Various forms of biometrics are included in this study, from the collection, use and storage of DNA to real-time applications in the classroom (Eye Tracker Commitment of school students), to facial recognition in large crowds.

End-User Vulnerability in Robotics and Autonomous Systems

A project focused on the design process of robotics and autonomous systems using an interdisciplinary mix of co-design, applied ethics, and values-driven design. Specifically, this project seeks to move beyond traditional risk assessment towards a greater consideration of end-user exposure. The goal of the ethics-based co-design approach is to identify end-user and stakeholder values that guide the minimization of end-user vulnerability associated with the employment of autonomous systems.  This design process is also used to identify positive consequences that provably increase human wellbeing as opposed to simply avoiding harm. Embedding ethical considerations in the engineering design process should bring together a diverse range of stakeholders to more accurately appreciate possible end-user implications of a design. With complex systems design, such as biotechnologies, greater awareness is necessary of the ethical implications of designed autonomy to end-user exposure.

Deep Brain Stimulation: Does It Work?

This project examines the use of new technologies such as deep-brain stimulation in the treatment of a variety of illnesses. Does DBS actually work is a fundamental question being asked in this research study. The study identifies the real market size of DBS using publicly available data, the diverse number of applications for which DBS has been tested, patient narratives and stories, it reflects on the outcomes of prominent clinical trials, it reports observations from select carers, documents known and suspected side effects experienced by individuals, and provides documentation on provider liabilities.

What are the Unintended Consequences of Technology?

What do everyday people think that the unintended consequences of technology are? This project created an artwork from 100 participant responses, ranging from one word to several on A4 white tiles, capturing citizen reflections. The artwork also became a multimedia project reflecting on the impacts of technology, of which the predominant descriptions were negative, with only 6 positive or neutral responses. Photographs of contributor hands holding up their tile were taken, further allowing for open interpretation by viewers of the artwork.

Transhumanist Futures: Overcoming Death and Taxes

We have been repeatedly warned that AI will be the “End of Humanity” by reputable entrepreneurial and academic voices. We are also warned that if the human does not merge with AI they will be “left behind” so we “might as well go along for the ride”. What are humans really trying to achieve by this human-computer symbiosis? Smarter humans? This project brings together technology, science, and religion to understand what it means to be human, posthuman, and beyond. It investigates motivations for particular kinds of transhumanist rhetoric and emphasizes the need for everyday people to codesign their future, not just seemingly a handful of innovators that drive economic prosperity. The study hears from spiritual leaders who place their beliefs about the future in Holy Books.


Working with robots, National Science Foundation - C- Accelnet, $1M
Location-based Services Regulation in Australia, Australian Research Council - Discovery Grant, $200K