This week, the Australian Government published its interim response to community feedback on its Safe and responsible AI in Australia discussion paper.

The aim of the consultation by the Department of Industry, Science and Resources was to seek views on how the Australian Government might mitigate the potential risks of AI and support safe and responsible AI practices.

AAAiH made a submission with policy recommendations focusing on Safety, Quality Ethics and Security governance; developing the healthcare AI industry; and building the capabilities of the healthcare workforce and consumers to be effective users of AI. These recommendations were amplified by AAAIH members who participated in Ministerial roundtables late last year, and were a feature of the launch of the AAAiH National Policy Roadmap for AI in Healthcare. In the Roadmap, the importance of safety governance for AI in healthcare was identified as the highest priority focus for the nation.

The Government’s interim response endorses a risk-based approach to AI, focused on setting up guardrails to reduce the likelihood of harms occurring in high-risk settings like healthcare. This recognises that many applications of AI do not present risks requiring regulatory response, but that the current regulatory framework does not sufficiently address known risks presented by AI in high-risk settings.

Guardrails for the safe and responsible use of AI may introduce obligations for proactive steps to ensure safety through testing, transparency, and accountability. Specific risks were noted with newer, more powerful AI ‘frontier’ models. It was also highlighted that AI services are being developed and deployed at a speed and scale that may outpace the capacity of legislative frameworks. The government is considering different legislative vehicles, introducing such mandatory safety guardrails in close consultation with industry and the community. At least 10 legislative frameworks may require amendment. Work is being undertaken to strengthen existing laws, such as a review of the Online Safety Act 2021, as well as the introduction of new laws relating to misinformation and disinformation.

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