Govt panel to consider restrictions on high-risk AI technology

The Albanese Government has appointed 12 experts in science, technology, law and ethics to identify the riskiest uses of artificial intelligence in Australia and consider options for mandatory restrictions on the technology.


Feb 14, 2024, updated Feb 14, 2024
File photo: AAP/AP

File photo: AAP/AP

Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic is expected to announce their appointments on Wednesday morning, almost one month after the release of the government’s Safe and Responsible AI interim report that called for an expert advisory group.

But the group will be temporary, with appointees in the roles until the end of June while the government considers long-term arrangements.

Experts who will serve in the task force include CSIRO chief scientist Professor Bronwyn Fox who has contributed to international AI studies, as well as senior counsel Angus Lang, and UNSW Professor Toby Walsh, who serves as chief scientist of the university’s AI Institute.

The task force will be asked to identify and define high-risk uses of artificial intelligence technology in Australia, and consider restrictions for its deployment.

The group will also investigate a framework for labelling when AI has been used, including watermarking images, and to investigate ways to achieve greater transparency about AI models and the data sources they use.

Prof Walsh said considering guidelines for the use of AI would be vital as the world had never seen a technology “so quickly reach into our lives”.

“One of the unique challenges AI throws up is the speed with which it is being developed and adopted,” he said.

“This makes setting the guardrails both difficulty and critical.”

Professor Fox said generative AI was already being used in Australia in fields as varied as cybersecurity and health care, and rules would be needed to ensure its safe use.

“Our challenge, and something this expert panel will be looking at closely, is to understand the many benefits AI will create for Australia but also to ensure that it is developed within responsible guardrails and on a strong foundation of ethical principles and governance structures,” she said.

The government’s interim report recommended mandatory rules around the use of AI in settings “where harms could be difficult to reverse”, which could include compulsory testing, public transparency, and a certification process.

Husic said the group had a diverse set of skills that would be needed to meet the task.

“It’s imperative sophisticated models underpinning high-risk AI systems are transparent and well tested,” he said.

“With expertise in law, ethics and technology, I’m confident this group will get the balance right.”

The use of generative AI has boomed since the release of ChatGPT in late 2022, but has also presented challenges to lawmakers around the world.

Research from the Tech Council of Australia called it “one of the most transformative technologies of our time” and predicted its use could add up to $115 billion a year to the economy by 2030.


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