Australia’s first artificial intelligence ethics consultancy launched in Sydney today, spearheaded by Dr Catriona Wallace. Ethical AI Advisory will guide public and private companies on how to incorporate AI ethics and human rights frameworks into their strategy and operations.

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The new advisory will offer services to senior executives and boards on the design and development of frameworks and toolkits for ethical AI and “other emerging technologies”. Ethical AI Advisory says it will also provide education and coaching on the development of AI capabilities. 

“This rise in use of AI will bring some exceptional benefits, such as improved analytical capabilities, increased productivity, reduced cost and even increased customer experience,” said Ethical AI Advisory CEO and founder, Dr Catriona Wallace.

 “However, AI could also potentially do harm if not designed and deployed ethically.” 

Room for guidance

Australia’s top scientists argue much more oversight and guidance is needed for the local development and use of AI. But there are currently few laws or regulations in Australia regarding AI and the government has signalled it does not want to play a heavy handed role in AI regulation.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews, last year said she does not want to introduce a “big stick” approach anytime soon to AI. She was also was criticised by the opposition for an “all talk no action” approach to supporting the local industry.

While the government acknowledges the global AI industry could be worth AU$22.17 trillion it has so far provided little direct investment in the local industry relative to other comparable countries.

In November the government released broad AI principles designed to reduce the risk of harm from the technology. The principles are currently being trialled by a select group of Australian enterprises to help inform the final official guidelines.

Wallace, who also founded Flamingo AI, an enterprise SaaS AI company, worked closely with the government and the Australian Human Rights Commission to develop the ethics principles.

She says there are already several examples of the risks of failing to incorporate ethics in AI.

“Artificial Intelligence will bring benefits to businesses and individuals. However, there is also scope for it to be done without consideration or knowledge of the potential harm that AI can do. 

“A pertinent example was the recent release of the Apple Card which was highly criticised for its algorithm providing vastly higher  levels of credit to males than females with the same income. We have set up Ethical AI Advisory to assist organisations avoid these problems and use this powerful technology in an ethical way so as to optimise the benefits that AI will certainly bring.”

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