AI/Machine Learning

The Australian government wants feedback on regulating artificial intelligence and its risks

- June 2, 2023 2 MIN READ
Ed Husic
Industry and science minister Ed Husic. Photo: Science & Technology Australia

The federal government is seeking feedback on mitigating any potential risks from the use of artificial intelligence technologies (AI) and how to build a safe framework for its use amid growing global concerns that seeing machine learning as potentially an existential threat to humanity.

Science and industry minister Ed Husic released two discussion papers on AI this week as debate grows over its responsible use, saying the government is taking additional steps to ensure the growth of AI in Australia is ethical.

The government’s Safe and Responsible AI in Australia discussion paper canvasses existing regulatory and governance responses in Australia and overseas, identifies potential gaps and proposes several options to strengthen the framework governing the safe and responsible use of AI.

The second discussion paper from the National Science and Technology Council, Rapid Response Report: Generative AI ,assesses potential risks and opportunities in relation to AI, providing a scientific basis for discussions about the way forward.

“Using AI safely and responsibly is a balancing act the whole world is grappling with at the moment,” Husic said.

“The upside is massive, whether it’s fighting superbugs with new AI-developed antibiotics or preventing online fraud. But as I have been saying for many years, there needs to be appropriate safeguards to ensure the safe and responsible use of AI.

“Today is about what we do next to build trust and public confidence in these critical technologies.”

The government is already a believer in the potential of AI, with the budget including $41 million for improve uptake of its use in business.

But the emerging technology faces an uphill battle for support with just one-third of Australians currently willing to trust AI.

However, Simon Bush, CEO of peak body the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), warned that strict regulation applied in isolation from industry stifles innovation.

“It is our opinion that for many existing AI use-cases in sectors such as transport and health, self-applied frameworks can be effective in managing the adoption of such technologies,” he said.

“We are seeing best-practice guardrails evolve through collaborations between academics and industry leaders. Government needs to back this work and engage industry in any potential regulatory frameworks.”

The AIIA recently launched its Navigating AI Report: A Guide to the Use and Adoption of AI to help organisations navigate the responsible and legal adoption, development, and use of AI, without stifling innovation.

Bush said generative AI has potentially transformative industrial and societal benefits.

“However, it also poses regulatory and social challenges, which we accept. Ultimately, the Government needs to develop its own frameworks around adoption and the use of AI, and we urge the government to consider greater support for this work to implement AI adoption guidelines, as well as establish an AI register to allow transparency and dispel bias or harm where AI is being used, without creating roadblocks for industry growth,” he said.

Submissions on both are open now until July 26. The papers and details are available here.

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