Industry Minister Ed Husic announces plans to ramp up AI regulation

Certain “high risk” artificial intelligence “elements” could be banned in Australia, as the government ramps up its effort to regulate the burgeoning sector.

Industry Minister Ed Husic will on Thursday release two reports, gearing up to fast-track regulations to strengthen rules governing responsible and safe use of AI.

Mr Husic said while there was considerable benefits to AI, there were significant risks that needed to be safeguarded.

It comes as hundreds of leading tech experts warn of a “risk of extinction” from AI if it goes unchecked and have called for it to be a global priority.

A statement, released by the Centre for AI Safety on Tuesday, has been signed by executives and academics who say the technology should be prioritised as a societal risk in the same class as pandemics and nuclear wars.

Mr Husic said there was clear concern in the Australian community “about whether or not the technology is getting ahead of itself” as he watered down options for self-regulation.

“Governments have got a clear role to play in recognising the risk and responding to it, putting the curbs in place,” he told ABC News.

“Given the developments over the last, in particular, six months, we want to make sure that our legal and regulatory framework is fit-for-purpose, and that’s why we’re asking people, either experts or the community, to be involved in this process, the discussion process, with the papers that we’ve put out, to let us know what their expectations are and what they want to see.

“We need the framework right, that people are confident that it’s working in favour or for the benefit of communities – it’s really important.”

Mr Husic said the Safe and Responsible AI in Australia paper canvasses existing regulatory and government responses both domestically and internationally, identifies potential gaps, and proposes options to strengthen the framework.

The National Science and Technology Council’s Rapid Response Report: Generative AI, meanwhile, assesses potential risks and opportunities in relation to AI that Mr Husic said provided a scientific basis for discussions about the way forward.

He said using AI safely and responsibly was a “balancing act” that the whole world was grappling with.

It comes as the US and EU grapple with how to regulate AI tech advancements.

“The upside is massive, whether it’s fighting superbugs with new AI-developed antibiotics or preventing online fraud,” he said.

“But as I have been saying for many years, there needs to be appropriate safeguards to ensure the safe and responsible use of AI.

“We’ve made a good start … Today is about what we do next to build trust and public confidence in these critical technologies.”

Originally published as ‘High risk’: Industry Minister Ed Husic announces plans to ramp up AI regulation

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