Australia announces new rules to tackle AI concerns

The Australian Government has said it is to take action to crack down in the threat posed by artificial intelligence after recent consultation found growing concerns over the potential threats posed by new technology systems.

Australia’s minister for industry and science said the new rules have been designed to help ensure that AI is safe and responsible. The comments came after the government released its interim response to the Safe and Responsible AI in Australia consultation.

Ed Husic  (pic) said the consultation made clear that while AI has immense potential to improve wellbeing and grow our economy, Australians want stronger protections in place to help manage the risks.

The Government’s response is targeted towards the use of AI in high-risk settings, where harms could be difficult to reverse, while ensuring that the vast majority of low risk AI use continues to flourish largely unimpeded.

Husic added the government is now considering mandatory guardrails for AI development and deployment in high-risk settings, whether through changes to existing laws or the creation of new AI specific laws.

While consultations will continue on possible mandatory guardrails, immediate actions are being taken including:

  • working with industry to develop a voluntary AI Safety Standard.
  • working with industry to develop options for voluntary labelling and watermarking of AI-generated materials.
  • establishing an expert advisory group to support the development of options for mandatory guardrails.
  • Mandatory guardrails to promote the safe design, development and deployment of AI systems will be considered, including possible requirements relating to:
  • Testing – testing of products to ensure safety before and after release.
  • Transparency – transparency regarding model design and data underpinning AI applications; labelling of AI systems in use and/or watermarking of AI generated content.
  • Accountability –training for developers and deployers of AI systems, possible forms of certification, and clearer expectations of accountability for organisations developing, deploying and relying on AI systems.

Australia said it is closely monitoring how other countries are responding to the challenges of AI, including initial efforts in the EU, US and Canada. Building on its engagement at the UK AI Safety Summit in November, the Government will continue to work with other countries to shape international efforts in this area.

Husic said: “Australians understand the value of artificial intelligence, but they want to see the risks identified and tackled.

“We have heard loud and clear that Australians want stronger guardrails to manage higher-risk AI.

“The Albanese government moved quickly to consult with the public and industry on how to do this, so we start building the trust and transparency in AI that Australians expect.

“We want safe and responsible thinking baked in early as AI is designed, developed and deployed.”

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