Commission calls for accountable AI

The Australian Human Rights Commission has set out a template for change for how artificial intelligence (AI) and emerging technologies are developed and used in Australia.

In its Human Rights and Technology Discussion Paper, released today, the Commission makes wide-ranging proposals for safeguarding human rights and encouraging accessible, equal and accountable use of new technology in Australia.

The proposals for discussion range from a moratorium on potentially harmful use of facial recognition technology in Australia, and more accessible technology for people with disability. Where AI is used to make a significant decision, any affected individual should be able to understand the basis of the decision and, if necessary, challenge it.

The Discussion Paper draws on the Commission’s extensive community and expert consultation. It proposes practical improvements in applying existing human rights and consumer protections to the development and use of new technologies.

“Accountability and the rule of law are fundamental to Australia’s democracy. We need to uphold these principles more effectively in how AI is developed and used,” said Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow.

“Emerging technologies can bring great societal benefits, but people are starting to realise their personal information can also be used against them.

“In the last year we’ve seen troubling examples of emerging technology being ‘beta tested’ on vulnerable members of our community, and we’ve seen AI used to make high-stakes decisions that have had serious human rights impacts on individuals both in Australia and overseas.

“In releasing this Discussion Paper, the Commission is setting out a template for change in how we develop and use AI and emerging technologies.

“As AI becomes central to everything from service delivery to healthcare, we’re inviting everyone to have their say on the proposals in this discussion paper. The decisions we make now will be critical in defining how we live in the immediate future.”

The Commission proposes the development of a National Strategy on New and Emerging Technologies to help Australia seize AI’s economic and other opportunities, while guarding against the very real threats to equality and human rights.

The Discussion Paper also calls for government to comply with accessibility standards for goods and services such as WCAG 2.1 and Australian Standard EN 301 549, and to conduct an inquiry into compliance by industry with these standards.

The deadline for submissions is 10 March 2020.

You can download the Human Rights and Technology Discussion Paper and make a submission at

tech.humanrights.gov.au

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