CBA, NAB and Telstra to test govt's new AI ethics doctrine

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CBA, NAB and Telstra to test govt's new AI ethics doctrine

Eight principles developed to guide application.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia, NAB, Telstra Microsoft and Flamingo AI are set to put the federal government’s latest thinking around artificial intelligence through its paces.

The companies have all agreed to test eight principles developed as part of the government’s new AI ethics framework to inform the design, development and use of AI systems.

The government has been working to create guidelines to ensure AI is responsibly developed and applied since April, when it sought feedback on a discussion paper developed by CSIRO’s digital arm Data61.

The paper suggested a number of principles should be embedded when designing or applying AI systems – the majority of which the government appears to have built on through its consultation process and now plans to trials with businesses.

The principles include: human, social and environmental wellbeing; human-centred values; fairness; privacy protection and security; reliability and safety; transparency and explainability; contestability; and accountability.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said testing the voluntary principles, which have been agreed on with business, academia and the community, in real-world scenarios would ensure they deliver practical benefits.

“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,” she said.

But Andrews said the principles were “just one part” of the government’s broader vision to ensure “AI helps the economy and everyday Australians to thrive”.

“We need to make sure we’re working with the business community as AI becomes more prevalent and these principles encourage organisations to strive for the best outcomes for Australia and to practice the highest standards of ethical business,” she said.

“This is essential, as we build Australians’ trust that AI systems are safe, secure, reliable and will have a positive effect on their lives.”

NAB’s chief data officer Glenda Crisp said that by testing the ethics principles the bank hoped to “learn more about how we can leverage AI in an ethical way in order to help deliver new and improved experiences for our customers”.

“Collaborating with Government and across industry drives diversity of thinking which is vital in developing new ways of working and implementing new technologies safely,” he said.

Telstra’s chief data officer Noel Jarret said the telco “look[ed] forward to learning from other companies” involved.

"There’s no doubt that AI can improve the experiences of our customers and our employees by making things simpler and easier,” he said.

“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.”

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