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Navigating the Future: Australia's Endeavours in AI Governance

This article examines the challenges and opportunities associated with governance of Artificial Intelligence, and the impacts of emerging technologies on Australian organisations.
AI, governance
Published on
February 28, 2024

In the vast landscape of technological evolution, Australia has emerged as a key player in embracing and regulating artificial intelligence (AI). As AI continues to reshape industries and societies, Australia recognises the importance of fostering innovation while addressing this transformative technology's ethical, legal, and social implications. Australia's initiatives and approaches to AI governance will be critical in the coming months and years as we try to manage the rapid rise of AI-driven technologies with high-risk consequences.

Australia's AI Landscape:

Australia's commitment to becoming a global leader in AI is reflected in its National Artificial Intelligence Strategy. Launched in 2019, this strategy outlines a comprehensive roadmap to ensure that Australia harnesses the benefits of AI while upholding ethical standards and safeguarding citizen interests. For example, the federal government has recently outlined a proposal to respond to the rapid rise in AI technologies by introducing mandatory safeguards for high-risk AI, including self-driving vehicle software, employment and healthcare tools, and voluntary standards for low-risk AI. The government is also working with the industry to identify appropriate labelling, testing, and training requirements.

What safeguards must be considered when identifying AI technology for your digital advancement?

Ethical AI Principles:

A commitment to ethical considerations is at the heart of Australia's AI governance. In collaboration with industry stakeholders, the government has established Australia’s Artificial Intelligence Ethics Framework, 2019, to provide voluntary principles that guide the responsible development and deployment of AI technologies. These principles emphasise transparency, fairness, accountability, and privacy protection. Defining the ethical use of AI technologies will be a core component of an organisation’s values as we integrate these technologies into everyday practice.

How will you define your ethical expectations and responsibility?

Regulatory Framework:

Australia recognises the need for a regulatory framework that can adapt to the dynamic nature of AI. The government is actively working towards creating a regulatory environment that fosters innovation while addressing risks associated with deploying AI systems. Striking this delicate balance will be crucial to an organisation’s role and function, defining ethical and social expectations and providing guidance to safeguard from misuse.

How will you establish a framework that protects against this dual-use application?


Given the global nature of AI, Australia is actively engaged in international collaborations to shape global AI governance standards. The nation participates in forums and initiatives that facilitate the exchange of knowledge, experiences, and best practices.  Identifying industry-specific forums, working groups, or technical support teams will be invaluable in creating a more cohesive industry approach.

Public Engagement and Consultation:

Shaping AI governance requires input and consultation from a cross-section of the community. The Australian government has now published its interim response to the safe and responsible AI consultation, conducted in 2023. The consultation made it clear that AI systems and applications are helping to improve wellbeing and quality of life and growing our economy. However, current regulatory frameworks do not fully address the risks of AI. (Published 17 January 2024)

This inclusive consultative approach aims to build public trust in AI technologies and the regulatory processes surrounding them.

How will your organisation actively engaged with partners, customers, and broader stakeholders to ensure adequate and ongoing consultation and evaluation?

AI Education and Workforce Development:

Australia acknowledges the need for a skilled workforce capable of navigating the complexities of AI. According to the AIIA Digital State of the Nation 2023, IT skill shortages remain the country’s biggest inhibitor to business growth, with 56% of organizations outsourcing AI roles due to a lack of local skills. Australia is taking the initiative by promoting AI education and training programs and making amendments to the skilled migration program. Organisations must work with the education sector, including public/ private entities, to identify the knowledge and skills required to equip the current and future workforce with the knowledge and skills required to contribute to and benefit from the AI-driven economy.

How will skills development and acquisition be described in your strategic plan?

Investment in Research and Development:

Australia is investing significantly in research and development to remain at the forefront of AI innovation. Government initiatives, such as the Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) program, provide funding for collaborative research projects that advance AI technologies while addressing ethical and societal concerns. Innovation, review, and research should be a financial consideration of executives and boards to ensure organisational resilience in a technological revolution.

What current and future investments will be required to maintain currency in this digital expansion?

Challenges and Future Considerations:

While Australia has made significant strides in AI governance, challenges remain. Striking the right balance between innovation and regulation, addressing potential biases in AI systems, and ensuring accessibility to the benefits of AI across diverse communities are ongoing considerations for policymakers.

Australian organisations must also commit to early intervention through governance, training, innovation, or engagement. By fostering collaboration, engaging the public/private sector, and investing in education and research today, Australian organisations can become leaders in shaping the global AI landscape of tomorrow.

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