Ethical Use of AI in Australia - The Next Leg by the Government

  • Nov 11, 2019 AEDT
  • Team Kalkine
Ethical Use of AI in Australia - The Next Leg by the Government
Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a powerful technology that can perform a task as defined by the user and does not require human intervention. With the advancement of technology, AI has been a catalyst in boosting the economy, raising incomes and improving the quality of life of an individual. To know more about AI, please READ HERE.

AI provides support to an individual in areas like

  • Health and welfare
  • Safety
  • Environment
  • Energy
  • Infrastructure and transport
  • Education

When it comes to Australian industries, AI can help improving efficiency, safety and quality of industrial processes and services.

Future of AI in Australia

The Australian government is committed to building an environment where Artificial Intelligence can support the Australian society as well as economy flourish.

The Australian government is working across government, industry, academics, and the community, and looking at the role of AI in building Australia’s future. For a better future, the government is developing policy and building AI capability.

Now the question arises as to what steps the government has taken till now, what steps it is taking at present and implications of these steps.

Background of Artificial Intelligence Ethics Framework

Karen Andrews, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology in her media release in April 2019 highlighted the capability of AI to improve productivity, establish new industries and offer more inclusive services, while creating job positions in the future. She also highlighted the benefits of AI in boosting the Australian economic growth and directly improving the lives of Australians.

She laid stress on the ethical issues that might arise due to AI, such as privacy, transparency, data security, accountability as well as equity, which should be addressed, because if left overlooked, the impact of AI is likely to be extensive. Thus, it is important to ensure the best possible outcome which gives confidence to the society with respect to AI application.

The Coalition Government is making strategic investments in the AI technology for developing Australia’s AI capability, which will propel job creation and open economic opportunities. The Government, in the 2018-19 budget, provided over $29.9 million to enhance the AI sector and support responsible AI development. Besides this, $70 million was announced in the 2018-19 budget for upgrading high-performance computing facilities.

The media release notified that the Coalition Government would use the paper’s findings and response in the consultation phase, to develop a national Artificial Intelligence ethics framework, with principles and practical measures to ensure its development, design and use, respecting community expectation.

Designing of AI Ethics Framework

During the consultation phase, the government received 130+ written submissions. It also conducted stakeholder roundtables and targeted consultation in Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane, and collaborated with a set of AI experts to develop the framework.

Designing of AI Ethics Framework
AI Ethics Framework

The Government on 7 November 2019, in its media release, provided eight ethics principles:

AI Ethics Framework
When to apply these principles?

The use of AI Ethics Framework is entirely voluntary and is created to encourage companies to consider the effect of using AI-enabled systems.

It is possible that the principles might not be relevant to a company. Thus, in order to identify if the principle should be applied or not and to derive a better outcome, the company needs to check if the AI system (developing or implementing) will aid in making decisions or in other ways have a substantial effect on people (including marginalised groups), the environment or society.

Moreover, the company should be sure that the AI system does not adversely impact the organisation or customers.

Businesses supporting AI ethics, Ready to test ethics principles

Some of Australia’s largest businesses are supporting the AI ethics principles around Artificial Intelligence. Companies like Telstra, NAB, Commonwealth Bank, Microsoft, along with Flamingo AI, have agreed to assess these principles and ensure its advantages to convert them into daily life solutions.

Glenda Crisp, the Chief Data Officer of NAB, stated that the bank is excited to participate in the AI ethics principles trial and hopes to make a meaningful contribution to the discussion, while learning ways to leverage Artificial Intelligence ethically to provide its customer with new and improved experiences. She believes that the collaboration with the Government and across the industry would help in generating new ideas, crucial in developing new ways to work as well as apply new technologies securely.

Likewise, Telstra’s Chief Data Officer Noel Jarrett believes that AI would enhance the experience of its clients as well as employees by making matters easier and simpler. He stated that the only thing to adhere was to ensure that the technology is rightly used from the beginning. Testing the principles will assist the company in figuring out the best use of Artificial Intelligence.


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