Businesses to trial AI ethics principles

Monday, 11 November, 2019

Businesses to trial AI ethics principles

Eight new artificial intelligence (AI) ethics principles will be put to the test in a trial led by some of the biggest businesses in Australia.

NAB, Commonwealth Bank, Telstra, Microsoft and Flamingo AI are set to implement the principles — developed under the Australian Government’s AI Ethics Framework — and evaluate whether they can “deliver practical benefits and translate into real world solutions”, according to the government.

The principles include ensuring AI systems: “benefit individuals, society and the environment”; respect human rights, diversity and individuals’ autonomy; are “inclusive and accessible”, without unfairly discriminating against individuals, groups or communities; “respect and uphold privacy rights and data protection” and operate reliably, according to their intended purpose; throughout their lifetime.

Additionally, those using AI should: be transparent — ensuring people know when an AI system is significantly impacting or engaging with them; have a timely process in place, allowing people to challenge an AI system’s use or output if that system significantly impacts on a person, community, group or environment and be identifiable and accountable for AI systems’ outcomes.

Australian Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said AI is a powerful technology that can help the economy and improve quality of life, but it’s “essential, as we build Australians’ trust, that AI systems are safe, secure, reliable and will have a positive effect on their lives”.

“Agreeing on these principles with business, academia and the community is a big step forward in setting our shared expectations of each other in Australia’s AI future,” Andrews said.

“The government will continue to work with experts to explore the role of AI in Australia’s future and build tools to support AI development and adoption.”

The ethics framework follows extensive, country-wide consultations and a discussion paper released earlier this year.

Telstra Chief Data Officer Noel Jarrett said the company is “proud to be a part of the AI ethics trial and we look forward to learning from other companies who are also involved”.

“There’s no doubt that AI can improve the experiences of our customers and our employees by making things simpler and easier. We want to make sure that we’re using this technology in the right way from the start, and testing these principles will help guide us as we consider how to best use AI.”

The principles are voluntary and complement existing AI obligations and regulations, the government said.

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