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Digital & Innovation

First legislation for artificial intelligence set to launch, but are consumers on board?

Health Industry Hub | April 11, 2024 |

Digital & Innovation: Expected to become law in May 2024, the world’s first comprehensive legal framework on artificial intelligence (AI) will set a global benchmark for AI regulation. With privacy pushed into the community spotlight, 96%* of Australians want conditions in place before AI is used to make a decision that impacts them.

The European Parliament has voted in favour of the Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act), setting a global bar for AI regulation. While Australia does not yet have any publicly available plans to implement corresponding legislation, government agencies wanting to explore and use AI tools should ensure that their planned use cases are consistent with the fundamental legal and ethical principles relevant to AI which are reflected in the AI Act.

The AI Act seeks to establish a robust regulatory framework that ensures responsible and ethical AI deployment while safeguarding individuals’ privacy and fundamental rights. Therefore, the AI ACT will prohibit certain AI practices, such as the utilisation of biometric categorisation systems to deduce or infer sensitive personal attributes such as race, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, or sexual orientations. It will also impose stringent requirements on high-risk AI systems, alongside obligations for their operators.

There is currently work being undertaken by Data and Digital Ministers across Australia to develop an initial framework for assuring AI used by governments, which aligns with the AI Ethics Principles and includes common assurance processes.

The latest Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey, commissioned by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), highlights the diverse perspectives within the community regarding emerging technologies.

It reveals that only 2 in 5 individuals feel that organisations they interact with are transparent about how they handle their information, with 58% expressing a lack of understanding about its usage. Additionally, the survey indicates that half of Australians feel compelled to accept the data practices of services they use, despite 84% expressing a desire for greater control over their personal information.

In relation to AI, the survey found that 96% of respondents want safeguards in place before AI is employed to make decisions affecting them, such as the option for human review. Moreover, 71% wish to be informed when AI is utilised to manage their personal data, while 56% advocate for human validation of AI-generated results. Approximately 43% express apprehension about AI’s use of their personal information, and 70% consider it unfair for AI to influence decisions with significant individual impacts without human oversight.

These findings underscore the complex landscape of privacy and technology ethics shaping public opinion in Australia. We need to consider the laws and practices that will uphold our fundamental human right to privacy and meet community expectations, while enabling innovation and economic growth.

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*Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey 2023


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