‘Rules of the road’ needed to better regulate AI

Australia could play a key role in regulating artificial intelligence as Europe flags collaboration to keep the advanced technology out of the hands of terrorists.

The European Union’s digital envoy to the US is pushing to regulate the emerging technology, saying rules of the road are needed despite risks they won’t be followed.

Gerard De Graaf said Australia had an important role to play in the regulation as Europe moves forward with its own framework, pointing to the key role Canberra played in developing the international initiative on ransomware.

“There are bad actors in the world – it always helps to say this is what is allowed,” he said.

“Of course, terrorists are breaking lots of rules but it’s important to have a framework in place … it’s still important to define what is legal and what is not legal.

“We need to have enforceable rules in place, we need to ensure that the private sector follows these rules and if they don’t … there should be consequences.”

Mr De Graaf said regulation would allow the world to collaborate to prevent the technology falling into the wrong hands and put collective safeguards in place to prevent it from being used in nefarious ways.

“It’s like a parable when the nuclear bomb was developed,” he said.

“There was the non-proliferation treaty and a lot of efforts to ensure that very important, very powerful technology would not end up in the hands of people who would do harm.”

Risk assessments arising from regulation also help mitigate the risk of negative consequences, with TikTok becoming a focus of concern for western governments.

The popular social media app is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, sparking concern it could be used to siphon sensitive information – something TikTok denies.

Australia has banned the app on government devices.

European regulations mean TikTok cannot send information back to nations where personal data protections are inadequate nor target users with disinformation.

It also cannot profile young people or target minors with advertising.

Consequences include fines ranging from six per cent to 20 per cent of a company’s global turnover.

Such regulation meant technology companies needed to give assurances they were playing by the rules and had an obligation to reduce risk, Mr De Graaf said.

While regulation needed to be balanced to ensure it didn’t stifle innovation, any product hitting the market had to be safe, he said.

Australian eSafety commissioner Julie Inman Grant said there were shared goals with the EU to ensure technology was transparent and accountable to ensure the online realm was safe and could be trusted.


Dominic Giannini
(Australian Associated Press)


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