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Australia has joined a global body setting the rules on artificial intelligence

- June 15, 2020 2 MIN READ
Photo: AdobeStock
Australia is joining a new global organisation setting a framework on the use of artificial intelligence alongside 13 other nations and the European Union.

In a statement announcing the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI, pronounced Gee-Pay) on Monday, the founding member nations said they “will support the responsible and human-centric development and use of AI in a manner consistent with human rights, fundamental freedoms, and our shared democratic values”.

French president Emmanuel Macron and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau first proposed the organisation in 2018 in order to monitor and debate the policy implications of AI globally.

The GPAI formed last month in a virtual gathering of national technology ministers and initially involved the G7 nations: France, Canada, the US, USA, Italy, Germany and Japan, but in the last fortnight has been GPAI has expanded to include Australia, New Zealand, India Mexico, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Slovenia, and the wider EU.

The US had threatened to pull out of the group, objecting to its focus on regulation and its potential to hamper US companies, but growing concern about China’s influence, a country racing to catch the US on AI technology, is believed to have brought the USA back to the table.

GPAI will look to “bridge the gap between theory and practice on AI” by supporting cutting-edge research and applied activities on AI-related priorities.

It will be supported by the OECD in Paris, with a second Centres of Expertise in Montréal. The Paris centre will focus on data governance and the future of work, with Montreal looking at responsible AI, innovation and commercialisation.

Experts from industry, civil society, governments, and academia to collaborate across four Working Group themes: 1) Responsible AI; 2) Data Governance; 3) The Future of Work; and 4) Innovation & Commercialisation.

Several academics will represent Australia on GPAI, including Dr Paul Dalby from the University of Adelaide’s Australian Institute of Machine Learning, and ANU’s Dean of Computer Science, Prof. Elanor Huntington, plus three other professors Genevieve Bell, Enrico Coiera, and Toby Walsh.

A GPAI multi-stakeholder experts group plenary will be held annually with the first one planned to be hosted by Canada in December 2020.

Industry, science and technology minister Karen Andrews said the economic potential of artificial intelligence is almost limitless.

“This technology is developing at an incredible pace and, just a few years from now, AI will be creating jobs that we can’t even imagine yet,” she said.

“We are already harnessing AI to make our daily lives simpler and safer, from developing new diagnostic tools for doctors to using computer modelling to predict bushfire spread.”

Andrews said Australia is committed to responsible and ethical use of AI.

“Membership of the GPAI will build on the work the Government started at last year’s National AI Summit, which brought together 100 AI experts to discuss the challenges and opportunities which AI will present for the Australian economy.”

Artificial intelligence has been subject to growing concern and debate as law enforcement agencies, including in Australia, and totalitarian regimes have enlisted AI-based facial recognition software, such as US-based Clearview AI, founded by an Australian entrepreneur.

Last week Amazon announcement of a one-year moratorium on US police using its Rekognition software, while IBM said it was getting out of the facial recognition business.

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