In a significant development for the AI industry in Australia, the Australian Government announced it will adopt a risk-based and proportionate approach to AI regulation.
Recognizing that Australia’s current regulatory framework does not adequately address the unique challenges associated with AI technologies, such as high-risk applications, the government will undertake further consultation to assess options to introduce new regulatory guardrails – with a focus on testing, transparency and accountability. Key considerations include defining what constitutes “high risk” in the Australian AI landscape and identifying instances where AI deployment poses significant risks to individual safety, individual rights, and national security.
To facilitate the safe and responsible adoption of AI in businesses, the Australian government has outlined several key commitments. These initiatives include:
- Developing an AI Safety Standard. The National AI Centre, led by the CSIRO, will work with the industry to draw together standards to produce a best-practice and up-to-date voluntary AI risk-based safety framework for responsible adoption of AI in Australian businesses.
- Considering watermarking or similar data provenance mechanisms. The Department of Industry, Science and Resources will work with industry to consider the merits of voluntary watermarking or similar data provenance mechanisms for AI developed and used in high-risk settings. Industry commentators have noted that this work should be coordinated with the existing work of the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department on copyright, particularly the ‘Copyright and AI Reference’ group which will be established in 2024.
Establishing a temporary expert advisory group. The Department of Industry, Science and Resources is establishing an interim expert advisory group to support the government’s development of options for AI guardrails, including to provide advice on the definition of ‘high-risk’ and the regulation of these uses of AI in these settings.
The Australian Government’s Response will be guided by the following principles:
- Risk-based framework.
- Balanced and proportionate to facilitate innovation and competition but also protect community interests including privacy, security and public and online safety.
- Collaborative and transparent.
- Trusted international partner, where Australia will continue to support global actions on AI risks.
- Community first approach when developing the regulatory response.
Envato CEO, Hichame Assi, emphasizes the need to balance innovation, business growth, and responsible AI development. ‘We welcome the government’s collaboration with industry to establish clarity and framework – to benefit both business and the community. By striking the right balance, we can unlock the potential of AI while minimizing risks.” Envato is already active in this space, aligning a drive to innovate with care for the creative community, as exemplified by collaborations with BRIA AI and vAIsual to release responsible generative AI features.
The Tech Council of Australia (an industry body for Australia’s tech section representing over 160 members) welcomed the government’s approach stating “Providing clarity on the Australian Government’s approach to AI regulation is good for business and consumer confidence. It means businesses can better plan for building, investing in and adopting AI products and services, and the public can take confidence that AI risks are being safely managed and regulated in Australia.”
The Australian Government emphasized it maintains a strong collaboration with international partners to explore the applicability of safety mechanisms and models developed abroad within the Australian context. In November 2023, Australia underlined its commitment by signing the Bletchley Declaration. This declaration affirmed that AI should be designed, developed, deployed and used in a way that is safe, trustworthy, responsible and takes a community-first approach. Below is a snapshot of how Australia’s approach to AI regulation compares internationally.
International AI Response Comparison
Source: Tech Council of Australia January 2024
The current Australian Government interim response highlights the need for continued consultation before fundamental regulatory changes are implemented in the field of AI. It also signals that the government is actively engaging with stakeholders to develop a risk-based, balanced, and proportionate approach to ensure the safe and responsible utilization of AI in Australia. This ongoing dialogue underscores the government’s commitment to collaborate with all relevant parties to establish comprehensive and effective AI regulations that prioritize both safety and innovation.
For full details of the Australian Governments response – visit https://consult.industry.gov.au/supporting-responsible-ai
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Written by Katherine Briggs, General Counsel, Envato
- Tech council press release
- The government response doc
- Attorney-General’s – Copyright and AI reference group