Labor’s AI Regulation Plan Scrutinised Amidst Calls for Local AI Industry Development

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Top artificial intelligence (AI) academics in Australia have voiced concerns over Labor’s plan to regulate AI use in the country, highlighting the absence of a substantial domestic AI industry to handle. 

In their submission to the government’s consultation on safe and responsible AI regulations, twelve AI professors from leading universities, including ANU, UNSW, Melbourne University, and Adelaide University, emphasised the need to build local AI software and expertise rather than relying solely on international sources.

Professor Anton van den Hengel from the University of Adelaide stressed the importance of developing an Australian AI model similar to the GPT-style models. Kingston AI Group emphasised that while regulating AI usage is important, research into AI should be unrestricted. They highlighted the risk of hindering innovation through excessive regulation and noted that sufficient research rules, such as the Australian Code for Responsible Research Conduct, are already in place.

“The potential implications of AI research are so broad-based that regulating AI research specifically may simply serve to stall innovation without addressing legitimate issues of concern,” the Kingston AI Group said.

The academics pointed out that Australia’s current approach represents a sovereign risk as the nation becomes increasingly dependent on foreign technology and regulations. They advocated for the government to focus on building a local AI industry to ensure that the country can influence its technological future effectively.

Labor’s AI policy aims to balance fostering an AI-based economy and protecting jobs. However, Professor Anton van den Hengel urged the government to focus on the potential benefits of AI adoption rather than concentrating solely on the potential harms.

One of the academics’ key recommendations is the urgent development of an Australian Large Language Model (LLM). They suggested that such a model could leverage the nation’s data resources, particularly in the healthcare sector, where comprehensive data, like that collected by Medicare, could be utilised to develop applications with global appeal. They stressed that Australia should rely more on international LLMs due to data privacy concerns.

The academics’ submission highlights the need for Australia to invest in developing a local AI industry and capabilities. They believe that building domestic AI expertise will benefit the nation’s technological sovereignty and contribute to economic growth and innovation.


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