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Microsoft and Telstra embark on AI ethics trial

Microsoft and Telstra embark on AI ethics trial

The creation of the AI Ethics Framework is aimed at guiding businesses and governments looking to design, develop and implement AI in Australia

Credit: Dreamstime

Microsoft and Telstra are among the local tech players set to trial a set of eight principles around artificial intelligence (AI), as part of the federal government’s new AI Ethics Framework.

The framework has been in the works since earlier this year, with the government releasing a discussion paper and conducting extensive consultations across the country. 

Broadly, the government wants to create an environment in which AI can help the nation’s economy and society thrive. To achieve this goal, it is developing guidelines to support AI development and adoption.

The creation of the AI Ethics Framework is aimed at guiding businesses and governments looking to design, develop and implement AI in Australia. 

The eight ethics principles outlined in the framework are: human, social and environmental wellbeing; human-centred values; fairness; privacy protection and security; reliability and safety; transparency and explainability; contestability and; accountability.

The government is now working to develop guidance to help businesses apply the principles in their work.

“The...government is determined to create an environment where AI helps the economy and everyday Australians to thrive,” said Australia’s Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews. “The eight AI ethics principles are just one part of this vision.

“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.

While it remains to be seen how, or even if, the framework will eventually play a role in how channel partners that operate in the AI space design and deploy solutions involving AI for end customers, there are a number of large organisations set to take part in the trial.

In addition to Microsoft and Telstra, National Australia Bank (NAB), Commonwealth Bank (CBA) and Flamingo AI have signed up to test the principles to ensure they deliver practical benefits and real world solutions with AI technology.

It should be noted that the principles are currently voluntary and designed to complement existing AI obligations and regulations.

“Agreeing on these principles with business, academia and the community is a big step forward in setting our shared expectations of each other in Australia’s AI future,” Andrews said. 

“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. 

For Telstra chief data officer Noel Jarrett, there’s little doubt that AI can improve the experiences of the telco’s customers and employees by making things simpler and easier. 

“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,” Jarrett said.

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