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    The current uses and capabilities of insertable-devices

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    © 2021 Kayla Joanne HeffernanRecently there has been an evolution towards insertable-devices, defined here as non-medical-devices voluntarily inserted into the body. An example of an insertable-device is a grain-of-rice sized, bio-glass encased, NFC-microchip, inserted into the hand, which can be used to open doors like a physical access card. With burgeoning insertables-use, research into this topic is also growing, however these devices are generally novel and not well understood by the public. Knowledge about insertables is primed from science-fiction portrayals and influenced by cognitive biases and intuition, public discourse, sensationalist news pieces, and misinformation and disinformation. These can manifest as misperceptions, irrational fears, and conspiracy-theories. As a result, insertables-use is sometimes spoken about as a fantastical practice amongst cyborgs, transhumanists or ‘others’ generally outside the mainstream. Insertables-use is contested with moral and religious objections to both the devices and the users. This thesis is motivated by a need for empirical understandings of the current uses and capabilities of insertable-devices to demystify this mythologised technology. Given the contested nature of, and misperceptions surrounding, insertables, discourse and discussion informed by what the devices can actually do, and the goals and intentions of the communities of use and makers and manufacturers, is needed. The presented research is primarily qualitative, leveraging grounded theory to examine 126 insertables-users, five Swedish-organisations allowing their customers to use insertables and 12 insertable-companies manufacturing and selling devices in six separate studies. These studies are designed to explore the motivations of insertables-users, how insertables-users refer to and understand themselves, the experiences of new insertables-users, the reactions and interactions insertables-users receive from people in their lives, the responses to insertables from organisations enabling their use, and the uses and capabilities insertable-companies are developing now and in the near-future. Study 1 explores the types and attributes of devices being inserted and motivations for insertables-use. The study finds that insertable devices are mainly RFID and NFC-microchips, magnets, and some bespoke-devices. Insertable-devices are largely used for amenity-based purposes such as access and authentication, storing and sharing information and temperature readings. Some people use insertable-devices, mainly magnets, for augmentation-based purposes. The motivations for insertables-use are diverse in Study 1’s sample of 17 insertable-users. Study 2 quantifies, through a large survey, these previously identified motivations for using insertable-devices to understand the self-identifications of insertable-users. The study finds that insertables-users do not readily self-identify as ‘cyborgs’ and that many people do not identify with, or strongly with, any particular movement. There is a diversity of identifications, and no single movement or identity explains the use of insertable-devices. Insertable-devices are evangelised by many of their users, and indeed other research reports positive ‘usability’. Study 3 follows a group of 11 new insertable-users for a one-year period which unveils that they experience significant difficulties when configuring and using their devices. These problems are scanning difficulties, not enough uses, current utility not being useful enough, interoperability issues and a lack of ecosystem with which to use insertable-devices, not having skills or access to configure insertable-devices and the need for peripherals. This study integrates empirical findings, along with applied human-centred design (HCD), user experience (UX) and human-computer interaction (HCI) theory to develop and propose improvements to the insertables-user experience (IUX). The seven identified problems could be addressed through improvements to insertable-devices themselves to improve ease of scanning and enable greater utility, through an insertables-ecosystem which would engender more utility, aid in set up and configuration and remove the need for peripherals, and through greater help and documentation which would further reduce interoperability and configuration difficulties. Study 4 examines themes which emerged from the first three studies regarding the reactions and interactions insertable-users receive from people in their lives who know about their devices. Study 4 finds insertables-users experience judgement, with tracking capabilities commonly queried. The final two studies examine how insertables are being promoted by the Swedish organisations allowing customers to use insertables (Study 5) and device manufacturers (Study 6). Both are found to be focused on furthering amenity-based uses. Tracking fears are found to be disproportionate to insertable-device capabilities and antithetical to insertable-companies’, and the community of uses’, goals and motivations. There are four overarching themes that arise from the body of research as a whole. First, there is no singular or even dominant way in which insertables-users refer to themselves. Second, this research uncovered perceived-usability and interaction problems. Recommendations to improve the utility and perceived usability are developed and stated. Additional studies were undertaken to understand whether (and how) these are being addressed and to a large degree they are beginning to be. This will likely improve IUX. Third, this research has shown there is a social-price to pay for using insertables, as insertables-users face significant judgement and stigma. Finally, insertable-companies’ intentions do not align with some academic claims and predictions about the future of insertable-devices. Grounded in this data, myths are dismantled, misperceptions are recontextualised and uses are reframed. This expanded knowledge allows for implications to be drawn, rather than speculation based on knowledge and discourse primed from the aforementioned sources of science-fiction, cognitive biases and intuition, public-discourse, sensationalist news pieces, misinformation, and disinformation. From the empirical understandings generated by these six studies, the thesis discussion develops insights into the future of insertable-device use, with relevance for product development, organisational use and societal acceptance and the impacts on society

    Generating Deep Network Explanations with Robust Attribution Alignment

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    © 2021 Guohang ZengDeep Neural Networks (DNNs) have achieved impressive success in many fields, yet the black-box nature of DNNs hinders their application in critical domains, such as the medical domain. To this end, Interpretable Machine Learning (IML) is a research field aims to understand the mechanism behind DNNs via interpretability methods, which aim to provide explanations to human users and help them understand how black-box models make decisions. Current IML methods produce post-hoc attribution maps on pre-trained models. However, recent studies have shown that most of these methods yield unfaithful and noisy explanations. In this study, we present a new paradigm of interpretability methods to improve the quality of explanations. We treat a model’s explanations as a part of the network’s outputs, then generate attribution maps from the underlying deep network. The generated attribution maps are up-sampled from the last convolutional layer of the network to obtain localization information about the target to be explained. Another intuition behind this study is leveraging the connection between interpretability and adversarial machine learning to improve the quality of explanations. Inspired by recent studies that showed adversarially robust models’ saliency aligns well with human perception, we utilize attribution maps from the robust model to supervise the learned attributions. Our proposed method can produce visually plausible explanations along with the prediction in inference phase. Experiments on real datasets show that our proposed method yields more faithful explanations than post-hoc attribution methods with lighter computational costs

    The modern world as our natural habitat

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    © 2021 Robert Iain McHaffieHow can the space of figurative painting reflect the relationship we have to our surroundings? This research project questions how figurative painters interpret the world around them, transforming the experience of being in the world onto the two dimensional plane of the canvas. The investigation uses intuitive observational responses to everyday places, photography, social media, art history, and personal narrative to produce paintings that visually communicate suggestive and fragmented stories that reflect on the contemporary life experience

    Verified Multi-Robot Planning Under Uncertainty

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    Completed under a Cotutelle arrangement between the University of Melbourne and University of Birmingham© 2021 Fatma FaruqMulti-robot systems are being increasingly deployed to solve real-world problems, from warehouses to autonomous fleets for logistics, from hospitals to nuclear power plants and emergency search and rescue scenarios. These systems often need to operate in uncertain environments which can lead to robot failure, uncertain action durations or the inability to complete assigned tasks. In many scenarios, the safety or reliability of these systems is critical to their deployment. Therefore there is a need for robust multi-robot planning solutions that offer guarantees on the performance of the robot team. In this thesis we develop techniques for robust multi-robot task allocation and planning under uncertainty by building on techniques from formal verification. We present three algorithms that solve the problem of task allocation and planning for a multi-robot team operating under uncertainty. These algorithms are able to calculate the expected maximum number of tasks the multi-robot team can achieve, considering the possibility of robot failure. They are also able to reallocate tasks when robots fail. We formalise the problem of task allocation and robust planning for a multi-robot team using Linear Temporal Logic to specify the team's mission and Markov decision processes to model the robots. Our first solution method is a sampling based approach to simultaneous task allocation and planning. Our second solution method separates task allocation and planning for the same problem using auctioning for the former. Our final solution lies midway between the first two using simultaneous task allocation and planning in a sequential team model. We evaluate all solution approaches extensively using a set of tests inspired by existing benchmarks in related fields.%with a focus on scalability

    Statistical and Computational Methods for Microbiome Data Analysis

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    © 2021 Yiwen WangMicroorganisms are ubiquitous on earth, but our understanding of how microorganisms' function and composition relate to the environment remains limited. In this thesis, we refer to the microbiome as the collection of microorganisms and their genomes within a specific environment. In particular, we have focused on the analysis of microbiome profiled using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Microbiome data have their inherent characteristics, which limit statistical analysis. These characteristics include a large number of zeroes, uneven library sizes, compositional and multivariate structures. Furthermore, as the microbial communities are very sensitive to their surrounding environment, microbiome data are prone to batch effects, i.e. any unwanted sources of variation that are unrelated to and obscure the biological factors of interest. Therefore, computational methods for batch effect management that take into account the data characteristics are needed. In the first part of this thesis, we reviewed existing methods to manage batch effects. These can be distinguished between correcting or accounting for batch effects. The former generates batch effect corrected data for any downstream analysis, while the latter includes batch effects as covariates in statistical models. However, methods correcting for batch effects do not consider the non-Gaussian distribution and multivariate structure of the data, while methods accounting for batch effects are limited to differential abundance analysis. We proposed a new method for batch effect correction based on Partial Least Squares Discriminant Analysis. "PLSDA-batch" is non-parametric and multivariate. It estimates latent components related to treatment and batch effects to remove batch variation whilst preserving treatment variation. Two variants were also developed to handle unbalanced batch x treatment designs and to select microbial variables that discriminate sample groups (such as treatments). We also implemented "PLSDA-batch" into an R package. In the second part of this thesis, we developed two frameworks for batch effect management including our proposed methods or variable selection in microbiome data analysis, which are available on GitHub ( In the third part of this thesis, we presented the collaborative work on oral microbiome to identify microbial signatures discriminating between Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and healthy control subjects, thus uncovering new knowledge on the relationship between oral microbiome and RA disease

    Cardiovascular Disease in Patients with End-Stage Liver Disease undergoing Transplantation

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    © 2021 Anoop Ninan KoshyIt has been known for centuries that the heart and the liver are closely related. Galen suggested the body was controlled by the tripartite system of the liver, heart and brain, with the liver being the source of all veins and the principal instrument of sanguification. The complex interconnectedness of these organ systems is no more apparent than in patients with liver dysfunction. Liver cirrhosis leads to autonomic and neurohormonal dysregulation which can culminate in circulatory and cardiovascular dysfunction. These observations have been brought to the fore with advances in experimental techniques including biomarkers and structural imaging that have highlighted the manifestations of cirrhotic cardiomyopathy. However, the precise clinical consequences of these cardiac maladaptations have remained elusive. Liver transplantation (LT) is a valuable yet scarce resource with the ability to transform the lives of patients with advanced liver disease. Despite improvements in anaesthetic management and surgical techniques, patients undergoing LT are at a substantial risk of perioperative cardiovascular complications. This is pertinent as transplant candidates in the contemporary era are often older and have a higher proportion of vascular comorbidities. In addition, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is becoming a major aetiology of liver disease and this condition shares similar risk factors to many cardiovascular disease states. As such, optimizing risk stratification of patients prior to LT is a priority to ensure optimal patient and graft outcomes. Moreover, whether transplantation itself confers risk of accelerated atherosclerosis is unclear. This dissertation work explores three key areas. First, it aims to provide an extensive review of the perioperative and long-term cardiovascular mortality of patients undergoing LT in Australia and New Zealand. Second, we investigate the pathophysiological connections that constitute the heart-liver axis in patients with end-stage liver disease undergoing LT. This covers both the structural and electrophysiological alterations that characterize cirrhotic cardiomyopathy with a translational focus. Third, we aimed to evaluate predictors of cardiovascular events in patients undergoing LT, including a prospective study evaluating whether LT leads to accelerated changes in coronary atherosclerosis. Collectively, this thesis explores key epidemiologic data relating to cardiovascular mortality in the LT population, and highlights key cardiac structural, electrophysiological and coronary disease manifestations in patients with end-stage liver disease undergoing transplantation

    Value of flexible and dynamic resource allocation in conservation planning

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    © 2021 Chung-Huey WuConserving biodiversity in a heterogeneous and changing world requires management flexibility. Managers are tasked to allocate different actions that meet varying local needs and to initiate, modify, or terminate actions at the right place and timing. While such adaptive, dynamic action strategies have been widely advocated, their implementation can incur transaction and administrative costs, performance risks, and suffer a myriad of practical operational and institutional constraints. Therefore, it is critical to identify when and how flexible conservation actions are beneficial. Managers need systemic analyses of these practical concerns to both understand the value of flexible conservation actions and to guide optimal decision-making. In this thesis, I develop analytical methods that reveal how increased flexibility can improve conservation cost-efficiency, focusing on budget allocation among projects and spatial planning of land protection. In Chapter 2, I develop an optimization-simulation workflow for iterative budget reallocation among conservation projects. Applying the workflow to case studies of invasive weeds and threatened birds in Australia, I demonstrate how flexible budget reallocation can bring conservation gains for fast-changing projects with informative monitoring. In Chapter 3, I integrate both permanent easements and temporary contracts into the spatial planning of land protection under environmental change. In a hypothetical, three-subregion landscape, flexibility to adjust protection permanency over space and time can improve habitat retention, and budget capacity and risks of temporary land protection strongly influence the extent of improvements. In Chapter 4, I extend the multi-tool land protection approach and develop a novel spatial planning tool for a multi-species, multi-tenured real world landscape, using the Greater Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia as a case study. I show that coordinated allocation of permanent easements and temporary contracts over 80 years is expected to yield a 13% budget saving compared to relying solely on permanent land protection, while being robust to uncertain future climate change. The work in this thesis provides both methodological advances and insights into the usefulness of flexible conservation plans. The findings guide the best design of flexible, dynamic action plans under varying management capacity, action characteristics, and environmental contexts. It helps managers identify when and how to improve management flexibility that translates into conservation gains, facilitating a more responsive and adaptive conservation management

    Understanding the mental health impacts of COVID-19 through a trauma lens

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    This special issue of the European Journal of Psychotraumatology (EJPT) presents the first studies published by EJPT on COVID-19. We present 26 qualitative and quantitative studies assessing the prevalence of trauma-related symptoms and psychopathology within specific vulnerable populations such as health-care workers, students, children, and managers, or more broadly at a country level with a diverse set of outcomes including post-traumatic stress, moral injury, grief and post-traumatic growth. Intervention studies focus on whether telehealth delivery of mental health therapy in the pandemic environment was useful and effective. It is clear that the pandemic has brought with it a rise in trauma exposure and consequently impacted on trauma-related mental health. While for many individuals, COVID-19-related events met criteria for a DSM-5 Criterion A event, challenges remain in disentangling trauma exposure from stress, anxiety, and other phenomena. It is important to determine the contexts in which a trauma lens makes a useful contribution to understanding the mental health impacts of COVID-19 and the ways in which this may facilitate recovery. The papers included in this Special Issue provide an important and much-needed evidence-based foundation for developing trauma-informed understanding and responses to the pandemic

    Factors associated with COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy amongst refugees in Australia

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    Background: Refugees may be especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of COVID-19. Therefore it is critical that refugee communities are supported to access COVID-19 vaccines and for public health responses to address vaccine hesitancy. Objective: To investigate the key demographic factors, barriers and attitudes associated with vaccine hesitancy in a community sample of refugees. Method: Participants in the Refugee Adjustment Study, a cohort of refugees living in Australia, were invited to complete a survey about their COVID-19 vaccine intentions, barriers to access and attitudes relating to the vaccine. Results: Of the 516 participants, 88% were unvaccinated and 28.1% were classed as vaccine hesitant. Key predictors of vaccine hesitancy were younger age, information and trust barriers, lower logistical barriers, and attitudes relating to low control and risk posed by COVID-19. Conclusions: Findings suggest that public health strategies need to address trust, control and risk perception attitudes to increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake in resettled refugee communities


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