“We’re Still Struggling a Bit to Actually Figure Out What That Means for Government”: An Exploration of the Policy Capacity Required to Oversee Robot Technologies in Australia and New Zealand Care Services
2. Materials and Methods
“I feel like with robotics and AI, everyone keeps saying we want to be on the front foot but we’re still struggling a bit to actually figure out what that means for government and exactly where we need to be playing and not playing and where the gaps are that we need to be jumping into or supporting or helping so I think we’re still trying to figure that out”.(AU07)
“I think one of the really interesting things about where you’re, the space that you’re looking in, is to me, technology flies. It’s super, super fast, but policy is very slow. So, how do we effect change in policy that’s going to keep up with the change in technology?”.(AU09)
“I mean I would say step number one in thinking about what does policy making look like in this space is being really clear about what we imagine we are making policy around. I think that means getting down to terms and then I think the second piece there is well you know, having defined robotic objects, what is it that we want to use as the evaluative mechanism of their virtual value? [Laughs] Like you know, are we talking about classic automation? So, it’s about time and labour saved, so productivity and efficiency gains. Is it about an aged care facility’s—an absence of labour? Is it about quality-of-life stuff? Is it around energy efficiency stuff?”.(AU04)
“Governments are starting to… have some kind of technology expert. Often, we talk about a chief technology officer. If you’ve got technology in there, you should have a chief technology officer who is responsible to make sure that something happens. It might be that all the major government departments have their own CTO [Chief Technology Officer]. They coordinate. There has always been technology, but if it’s becoming more important for that decision making, you could say you want to have a chief technology officer. It might be a part time person. But they should be a technology expert. But you’ve got to have somebody who is on your side of the fence advising you for your organisation”.(NZ05)
“Schools have really different approaches to how they introduce kids to technology. Some of them are like well what we’ll do is we’ll teach you coding skills, or we’ll teach various different technological skills, which I’m a bit dubious about in some senses. Other schools have really said well actually what’s important in terms of new technologies is working with kids to think about the role that technologies do and will play in their lives and thinking about their relationship to technologies”.(AU15)
“From a government’s perspective we’re not aware of a lot of this stuff unless we have these conversations and the challenges and barriers in this space…. I think we, at least from us from a bureaucrat space, we know we need ethics frameworks in place and—but to me it’s a real partnership with the private sector, with the universities, with everyone working together because we know very little in this space and it’s not until we actually have these conversation… We’re not the experts and we are not the experts in any of this area but if there is regulation that needs to be removed and things that we need to be putting in place then we need to be having these conversations and I don’t think we’re great at being in those conversations”.(AU07)
“I think that that role of governments in terms of whether there’s gaps in funding, as well like the barriers, the things that governments gets involved with but if we think that the market isn’t going to drive development in areas but we think there’s really good work to be done with AI, I think that will be interesting to explore whether we think we could—there’s opportunity to move a lot more quickly in some of those areas that may not be commercially viable”.(AU07)
“We need to understand capabilities, so versions, capabilities of actual products. If aged care settings go and invest public money or foundation money or whatever money, it’s really up to them to make the thing work for them as best they can. Always what I try to say with the organisations that I work with: they should be working … with researchers and developers. Developers need to be working collaboratively with researchers and the public. That, to me, is the key, because there’s so much crap out there”.(AU14)
“I think maybe a good place for policy to start looking is around policies that allow, or frameworks that allow those things to be evaluated and assessed for use in the Australian context, so maybe that’s a starting point, and whether or not—if we can get those frameworks into place that will allow us to evaluate different technologies around, then we can streamline the implementation into our own systems here. Maybe that’s a place where policy can be effective in the first instance, rather than running and trying to catch up”.(AU09)
“I think we’re talking about regulatory standards. A lot of people want to think about that. I think it’s very hard, because we don’t know and it’s not clear what the robots are going to be doing when they’re doing things with people. You’re predicting a little bit. What you could do is you could look at your current—if it’s a medical device, there is a bunch of standards you have to meet…there is a bunch of regulation around heavy machinery, factory automation and how you have to protect people in factories. We are just not used to it in homes. People—I tell people you should look at all the other standards before you start inventing something new, because there is a lot of it already there. But then look at that and see what it’s not doing”.(NZ05)
“They [robots] are in fact culturally and constituted and driven by medical insurance capacities, so knowing—sitting inside those robotics objects, what mechanisms are built in there that are based on medical data, that are based on expectations about human activity? How do we get to scrutinise those?”.(AU04)
“Let’s be clear. If you were to install stuff in your home, you have a different expectation of your privacy in your own home than you do if you’re in a nursing home and the bar is actually higher on an elder care facility. So you install that stuff in your home and you inadvertently bring hackers in. Well that’s not—okay, bad. You sign into a facility where they are agreeing to care for you, them violating your privacy is a completely different deal and it ought to be much worse”.(AU04)
“I think the information privacy kind of thing needs to be dealt with data analysts and data informatics people. They’ll solve that. I mean that’s not a policy—the only issue for policy there is that they need to keep up to speed with what’s happening in data security and embed that into their thing. I don’t see that as something that they need to reinvent the wheel on”.(AU07)
“It’s not just how do you get people to understand the technological infrastructure, it’s how do you get them to understand that the technology is just the beginning and what they are in fact doing is creating a new class of material that now needs to be protected. So, I don’t want to think about it as data because I don’t think it is just data because that data also primes algorithms, it’s images, it’s all this stuff. So effectively you are now creating a new class of information that has never existed before and how do we want to think about that class of information as being something that needs to be protected or trafficked in”.(AU04)
“There’s a lot of secondary and tertiary effects associated with this stuff. A lot of it is things that we don’t foresee. It’s like invasive species. You can think you’re doing a good job when you’re adding it, but you don’t really understand. That’s why we need more people thinking about what the secondary and tertiary consequences are”.(AU04)
“For every one dollar of technology invested, there’s a corresponding nine dollars invested in things like staff education, systems redesign and all of that”.(AU01)
“Well, it’s beyond the conversation phase now, because the technology is already outpacing our ability to regulate and legislate for it, so we’re way behind. The real question is, what are we going to allow—are we just going to be a big experiment, where all the stuff is thrown upon us and we see what happens? Then just say, oops, sorry if that was the wrong answer. Or are we going to then end up overreacting and throw the baby out with the bath water and there was good there but now it’s—we can’t use that because all of it’s dangerous?”.(AU08)
“Like I really think that we need to start bringing in really good quality standards and developing a lot of the stuff onshore. At the moment, the stuff that we’re getting from overseas is fine, it works, there’s no problem with it. But there’s a cost associated with that. Can we do it better, cheaper here? I don’t know. But if those people—if we’re going back to that manufacturing thing and the point you made earlier, if we’re taking people off car manufacturing and putting them on robot manufacturing, they’ve still got a job. So maybe we need to water the grass on our shores if we want a competitive sustainable foot in the robot door”.(AU09)
“I think there needs to be coordinated approach in terms of the importance of investment in innovation, and linking industry, community providers or whatever, and also researchers together. Currently, we have to get—to do things like partnership grants, et cetera we have to get money from industry. Often industry don’t have that money, so I don’t know; it’s a problem”.(AU14)
“We need a faster Broadband … It’s a real problem in Australia though, because we’ve got—we don’t have—Broadband is not good. NBN [National Broadband Network] is not good. Really, it’s quite a challenge; we have houses that were built in the seventies, eighties that are double brick that you can’t even get a mobile device in. There is certainly still a lot of work to be done in that area”.(AU14)
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Conflicts of Interest
- Carey, G.; Dickinson, H.; Malbon, E.; Reeders, D. The vexed question of market stewardship in the public sector: Examining equity and the social contract through the Australian National Disabiity Insurance Scheme. Soc. Policy Adm. 2018, 52, 387–407. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef][Green Version]
- Glasby, J.; Dickinson, H. Partnership Working in Health and Social Care: What is Integrated Care and How Can We Deliver It? 2nd ed.; Policy Press: Bristol, UK, 2014. [Google Scholar]
- Australian Government Productivity Commission. National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Costs. Productivity Commission Position Paper Overview and Recommendations; Productivity Commission: Canberra, ACT, Australia, 2017. [Google Scholar]
- Lien Foundation. Long Term Care Manpower Study; Lien Foundation: Singapore, 2018. [Google Scholar]
- Beech, J.; Bottery, S.; Charlesworth, A.; Evans, H.; Gershlick, B.; Hemmings, N.; Imison, C.; Kahtan, P.; McKenna, H.; Murray, R.; et al. Closing the Gap: Key Areas for Action on the Health and Care Workforce; King’s Fund: London, UK, 2019. [Google Scholar]
- Dickinson, H.; Smith, C. COVID-19 and the Rise of the Care Robots In From Crisis to Catastrophe: Care, COVID-19, and Pathways to Change; Duffy, M., Armenia, A., Price-Glynn, K., Eds.; Rutgers University Press: New Brunswick, NJ, USA, 2022; pp. 305–321. [Google Scholar]
- Van Wynsberghe, A. Healthcare Robots: Ethics, Design and Implementation; Ashgate Publishing: Abingdon, UK, 2015. [Google Scholar]
- Broadbent, E.; Kerse, N.; Peri, K.; Robinson, H.; Jayawerdena, C.; Kuo, T.; Datta, C.; Stafford, R.Q.; Butler, H.; Jawalkar, P.; et al. Benefits and problems of health-care robots in aged care settings: A comparison trial. Australas. J. Ageing 2016, 35, 23–29. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
- Australian Centre for Robotic Vision. A Robotics Roadmap for Australia 2018; Australian Centre for Robotic Vision: Brisbane, QLD, Australia, 2018. [Google Scholar]
- Australian Human Rights Commission. Human Rights and Technology Issues Paper; Australian Human Rights Commission: Sydney, NSW, Australia, 2018. [Google Scholar]
- Sharkey, A.; Sharkey, N. Granny and the robots: Ethical issues in robot care for the elderly. Ethics Inf. Technol. 2012, 14, 27–40. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Sparrow, R. Robots in aged care: A dystopian future? AI Soc. 2015, 31, 445–454. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Ying Tan, S.; Taeihagh, A. Adaptive governance of autonomous vehicles: Accelarating the adoption of disruptive technologies in Singapore. Gov. Inf. Q. 2021, 38, 1–15. [Google Scholar]
- Dickinson, H.; Smith, C.; Carey, N.; Carey, G. Robots and the Delivery of Care Services: What is the Role for Government in Stewarding Disruptive Innovation? ANZSOG: Melbourne, VIC, Australia, 2018. [Google Scholar]
- Wellstead, A.; Stedman, R. Policy capacity and incapacity in Canada’s Federal Government. Public Manag. Rev. 2010, 12, 893–910. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Wu, X.; Ramesh, M.; Howlett, M. Policy capacity: A conceptual framework for understanding policy competencies and capabilities. Policy Soc. 2015, 34, 165–171. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Gleeson, D.H.; Legge, D.G.; O’Neill, D.O. Evaluating health policy capacity: Learning from international and Australian experience. Aust. N. Zeal. Health Policy 2009, 6, 1–15. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed][Green Version]
- Tenbensel, T.; Silwal, P.R. Cultivating health policy capacity through network governance in New Zealand: Learning from divergent stories of policy implementation. Policy Soc. 2022, puab020. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Daugbjerg, C.; Halpin, D. Generating policy capacity in emerging green industries: The development of organic farming in Denmark and Australia. J. Environ. Policy Plan. 2010, 12, 141–157. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Craft, J.; Howlett, M. Policy capacity and the ability to adapt to climate change: Canadian and U.S. case studies. Rev. Policy Res. 2013, 30, 1–18. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Wellstead, A.M.; Stedman, R.C. Climate change policy capacity at the sub-national government level. J. Comp. Policy Anal. Res. Prat. 2011, 13, 461–478. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef][Green Version]
- Woo, J.J. Policy capacity and Singapore’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Policy Soc. 2020, 39, 345–362. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
- Low, J. Unstructured and semi-structured interviews in health research. In Researching Health: Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods, 2nd ed.; Saks, M., Allsop, J., Eds.; Sage: London, UK, 2013. [Google Scholar]
- Smith, J.A. Semi-structured interviewing and qualitative analysis. In Rethinking Methods in Psychology; Smith, J.A., Harré, R., Van Langenhove, L., Eds.; Sage: London, UK, 1995; pp. 9–26. [Google Scholar]
- Palinkas, L.A.; Horwitz, S.M.; Green, C.A.; Wisdom, J.P.; Duan, N.; Hoagwood, K. Purposeful sampling for qualitative data collection and analysis in mixed method implementaton research. Adm. Policy Ment. Helth Ment. Health Serv. 2015, 42, 533–544. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed][Green Version]
- Kallio, H.; Pietilä, A.-M.; Johnson, M.; Docent, M.K. Systematic methodological review: Developing a framework for a qualitative semi-structured interview guide. J. Adv. Nurs. 2016, 72, 2954–2965. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef] [PubMed]
- Blaikie, N. Designing Social Research, 2nd ed.; Polity Press: Cambridge, MA, USA, 2010. [Google Scholar]
- Strauss, A. Qualitative Analysis for Social Scientists; Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, MA, USA, 1987. [Google Scholar]
- Pasquale, F. New Laws of Robots: Defending Human Expertise in the Age of AI; Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA, USA, 2020. [Google Scholar]
- Dickinson, H. From new public management to new public governance: The implications for a ‘new public service’. In The Three Sector Solution: Delivering Public Policy in Collaboration with No-For-Profits and Business; Butcher, J., Gilchrist, D., Eds.; ANU Press: Canberra, ACT, Australia, 2016; pp. 41–60. [Google Scholar]
- Wellstead, A.M. From Fellegi to Fonberg: Canada’s policy capacity groundhog day? Can. Public Adm. 2019, 62, 166–173. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef][Green Version]
- Commonwealth of Australia. Our Public Service, our Future. Independent Review of the Australian Public Service; Commonwealth of Australia Canberra: Blackwall, NSW, Australia, 2019. [Google Scholar]
- Head, B.; O’Flynn, J. Australia: Building policy capacity for managing wicked policy problems. In The International Handbook of Public Administration and Governance; Massey, A., Johnston, K., Eds.; Edward Elgar Publishing: Cheltenham, UK, 2015; pp. 341–368. [Google Scholar]
- Milward, H.; Provan, K. Managing the hollow state. Public Manag. Rev. 2003, 5, 1–19. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Skelcher, C. Changing images of the state: Overloaded, hollowed-out, congested. Public Policy Adm. 2000, 15, 3–19. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
Knowledge of policy substance, analytical techniques, and communication skills
Data collection; availability of software and hardware for analysis and evaluation; storage and dissemination of operational information; e-services.
|Knowledge System Capacity|
Availability and sharing of data for policy research and analysis; availability, quality and the level of competition of policy advisory services in and outside of government; presence of high-quality educational and training institutions and opportunities for knowledge generation, mobilisation, and use access to information
Strategic management, leadership, communication, negotiation and conflict resolution, financial management, and budgeting
Funding, staffing, levels of intra- and inter-agency communication, consultation, and coordination
Levels of inter-organisational trust and communication; adequate fiscal system to fund programs and projects
|Political||Political Acumen Capacity|
Understanding the needs and positions of different stakeholders; judgement of political feasibility; communication skills
|Political Resource Capacity|
Access to key policy-makers; effective civil service bargain; politicians’ support for the agency programmes and projects
Level of public participation in policy process; public trust; presence of rules of law and transparent adjudicative system
|Academic expert/expert commentator||12|
|Provider of care services||5|
|Supplier of technology||5|
|Analytic||Ability to differentiate between different types of technologies.|
Ability to understand and assess different types of impacts in complex systems.
|Specialist technological insight and understanding of robots and associated technologies.|
Understanding of different models of care.
Understanding of appropriate regulatory arrangements and ability to develop these.
|Horizon scanning and foresight. |
Ability to understand and analyse different evidence sources and communicate to partners.
Ability to understand complex systems and the impacts that robotics might create across a broad range of fields.
Ability to negotiate amongst diverse stakeholder groups
|Ability to effectively collaborate with a range of stakeholders.|
Ability to analyse and disseminate evidence to a range of stakeholders.
Ability to develop and communicate required care standards.
|Understand the market and the different mechanisms available to steer this. |
Adequate fiscal system to fund innovations and stimulate market in underserved areas.
Understanding of issues relating to privacy and data sharing and mechanisms involved to shape this.
Ensure availability of infrastructure (e.g., broadband, mobile phone and data networks).
|Political||Understand needs and positions of different stakeholders.|
|Access to key stakeholders across a range of partners.||Strategic leadership across the system.|
Ability to understand implications of developments for the workforce and to work with partners to plan for this.
Level of trust from the broad community to lead conversation about where and for what purposes robots should and should not be used.
Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Share and Cite
Dickinson, H.; Smith, C.; Carey, N.; Carey, G. “We’re Still Struggling a Bit to Actually Figure Out What That Means for Government”: An Exploration of the Policy Capacity Required to Oversee Robot Technologies in Australia and New Zealand Care Services. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 4696. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19084696
Dickinson H, Smith C, Carey N, Carey G. “We’re Still Struggling a Bit to Actually Figure Out What That Means for Government”: An Exploration of the Policy Capacity Required to Oversee Robot Technologies in Australia and New Zealand Care Services. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022; 19(8):4696. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19084696Chicago/Turabian Style
Dickinson, Helen, Catherine Smith, Nicole Carey, and Gemma Carey. 2022. "“We’re Still Struggling a Bit to Actually Figure Out What That Means for Government”: An Exploration of the Policy Capacity Required to Oversee Robot Technologies in Australia and New Zealand Care Services" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 19, no. 8: 4696. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19084696