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Australia’s top scientists call for AI regulations

As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more advanced, Australia needs to be prepared for the incoming change, a new report from the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) has warned today.

The document, which was commissioned by chief scientist Alen Finkel, urged the Government to create a national strategy – like the one released by the UK last year – to direct regulation and use of this emerging technology, as well as establishing an independent AI institute.

“An independent body could be established or tasked to provide leadership in relation to these actions and principles,” the study explains.

“This central body would support a critical mass of skills and could provide oversight in relation to the design, development and use of AI technologies, promote codes of practice, and foster innovation and collaboration.”

However, for AI technologies to fully be embedded into the fabric of society, people must be educated about their potential for growth but also their dangers.

“AI offers broad-reaching opportunities,” the report reads, “but uptake also carries serious implications for human capital, social inclusion, privacy and cultural values to name a few. These must be considered to pre-empt responsible deployment.”

Among these implications, the report warns, there is the risk of job losses. For example, recent data from Google Australia showed that 3.5 million Australian workers are at risk of being displaced by automation by 2030.

To avoid this, the ACOLA team said: “there may be a need to rethink the context of work itself. People will need to be meaningfully engaged in activities and roles independently of work.”

In particular, the report mentions how Australia could be well-suited to embrace technologies such as ‘robo-judges’ (already being deployed in the US) sentencing low-range offenders, AI-powered psychologist software able to identify a client’s subtlest expressions, or automated cameras in China designed to shame jaywalkers.

“We make an ideal testbed for new developments and an ethical AI strategy should enable us to attract significant overseas investment,” the researchers said.

“Our reputation as a forward-looking, open and liberal society also allows us to play an important role in the development of international frameworks for regulating AI. We have the opportunity to ensure that the development of AI does not come at the expense of human rights, either at home or internationally.

“An AI strategy that places equity at its forefront will strengthen our international reputation in this arena and ensure that we are not left behind by some of the most important developments of the 21st century.”

Image via Needpix and Pixabay.

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