Australia: AI regulatory developments – Year in Review (2023)

A Year of Policy and Regulatory Milestones

Australia’s AI month concluded on December 15, 2023, marking a pivotal moment in the ongoing discussions around the country’s national AI strategy. Amidst global initiatives like the US Executive Order on AI and Europe’s groundbreaking Artificial Intelligence Act, Australia has witnessed significant policy and regulatory developments in the AI space throughout 2023.

One of the year’s key highlights was Australia’s commitment to implementing Responsible AI across various sectors, including industry, the military, and the public sector. This commitment culminated in the signing of the 2023 Bletchley Declaration on AI Safety at the UK AI Summit, underlining Australia’s dedication to collaborating internationally for the development of AI with appropriate safeguards.

In February, the National Science and Technology Council commissioned a Rapid Response Information Report on Generative AI, exploring the opportunities and risks associated with language and multimodal foundation models. The resulting Chief Scientist’s report in March delved into international strategies addressing the potential impacts of AI.

The Australian Government’s May 2023-24 Budget allocated A$101.2 million to support businesses integrating quantum and AI technologies, emphasizing its commitment to fostering local AI innovation. The Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) released in December prioritized themes such as sustainability, digitization, cybersecurity, and digital skills.

June witnessed the release of the CSIRO’s National Artificial Intelligence Centre (NAIC) report on implementing Australia’s AI Ethics Principles, offering guidance on Responsible AI practices. Simultaneously, the Department of Industry, Science, and Resources initiated a consultation on safe and responsible AI practices, attracting 510 submissions from government and industry organizations.

In August, the eSafety Commissioner published a Position Statement on Generative AI, evaluating its landscape and informing regulatory approaches. September saw the establishment of the Artificial Intelligence in Government Taskforce (AIGT) by the Digital Transformation Agency and the Department of Industry, Science, and Resources, aiming to create an integrated regulatory framework for responsible AI use in the Australian Public Service.

The pinnacle moment arrived in November at the AI Safety Summit, where Australia, the EU, and other major nations signed the Bletchley Declaration, emphasizing safe, human-centric, trustworthy, and responsible AI practices. In December, the Australian Government announced the formation of a copyright and AI reference group to address emerging copyright challenges from AI.

As 2023 draws to a close, Australia stands at the forefront of shaping responsible AI practices, engaging in international collaborations, and ensuring that its policies and regulations align with the evolving landscape of artificial intelligence.

Source: Lexology



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