Australians need to decide how we use artificial intelligence technologies before those decisions are made for us, a major report commissioned by chief scientist Alan Finkel has warned
A group of expert scientists, working under the Australian Council of Learned Academies, have today released a report urging the Government to develop a national strategy to guide regulation and use of emerging technology, and establish an independent AI institute. It also noted that “inevitable” AI technology was poised to disrupt almost every fabric of Australian society and warned that it should be developed in an “effective” and “ethical” way. Reporting group co-chair Professor Neil Levy, the former head of neurotics at Victoria’s Florey Institute, said AI offered great opportunity and great risk. Professor Levy said Australia needed to have control over its own AI systems and the data they used. He noted China’s recently introduced ‘social credit score’, where citizens could be rewarded or punished by a largely automated behaviours monitoring system, and that technologies like it could enter Australia if the country was not prepared to respond to their emergence. Professor Levy said currently Australians were buying AI “off the shelf”, which was not necessarily well designed for the Australian environment. In April last year, the UK Government released a national AI strategy and established several new bodies to support the development of AI, including an Office for Artificial Intelligence.
A key finding of the report was that Australians would benefit from an ‘ethical certificate’ on consumer technology, similar to the food standards label. The chief scientist has previously proposed a “Turing certificate” for smartphones, smart home devices and other technologies that collect people’s data, that would require a minimum standard that promised not to surreptitiously collect or use a person’s data.