NSW holds AI Thought Leaders Summit

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Wednesday, 04 December, 2019

NSW holds AI Thought Leaders Summit

The NSW Government held a summit last week to help shape the development of the state's planned AI Strategy.

The AI Thought Leaders Summit was chaired by NSW Government Chief Data Scientist and Chief Executive of the NSW Data Analytics Centre Dr Ian Oppermann.

The event was hosted by the NSW Government Chief Information and Digital Officer Greg Wells, and was opened by Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello and Secretary of the Department of Customer Service Emma Hogan. Attendees included representatives from government and academia as well as legal experts.

As part of the summit, attendees were given an opportunity to comment on the seven draft NSW Government principles for the use of AI.

The first principle covers community benefit, and states that AI should deliver the best outcome for the citizen, and key insights into decision-making. The second covers fairness, and stipulates that the use of AI should include safeguards to manage data bias or data quality risks.

The third covers privacy and security, stating that AI will include the highest levels of assurance, and that “NSW citizens must have confidence that data used for AI projects is used safely and securely, and in a way that is consistent with privacy and data sharing requirements”.

The fourth covers transparency, mandating that review mechanisms must be in place to ensure citizens can question and challenge AI-based outcomes.

The final principle is accountability, stipulating that AI-based functions and decisions must always be subject to human review and intervention, and final decision-making should always remain the responsibility of organisations and individuals.

Attendees generally expressed agreements with the principles and the overall policy approach, but emphasised that a principles-based approach will require careful application, and the presence of an assurance and review mechanism.

The summit also agreed that accountability must remain with agencies and government, and recommended that the application of the AI principles should be clearly articulated across an in-development AI User Guide for NSW Government agencies.

Attendees also highlighted the importance of building the required digital skills in government.

Public servants must also develop an awareness of where AI is the right solution — and when it is not — as well as how to ensure the right questions are being asked and that the outcome is ethical and based on quality data.

The summit also considered issues related to the building of public trust in AI and digital technologies.

Attendees emphasised the critical need for privacy considerations, as well as the presence of speedy redress mechanisms for the public to review AI-based decisions. They also recommended that a commitment be made that no-one should be any worse off after a technology-informed decision.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Siarhei

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