When it comes to technology, some prefer to hit the brake on progress. Others prefer to press the accelerator on oversight. I am in communion with the latter. Time does not change everything. It is merely the canvas upon which change can be seen. The greatest determinant of change is our dreams, our thoughts, our words, our actions.
Artificial Intelligence will change everything. If we want that change to be positive, then we need a strategy to create that pathway. I am proud to say that the work we have done over the past 12 months under this strategy has laid the foundational paving stones on this pathway.
By 2020, we were promised a world of flying cars and robot assistants. On the surface, our ancestors may be underwhelmed by our progress, but dive beneath and you will find society has made huge leaps of technological advancement that go further and faster than Hollywood’s greatest technology tropes.
Nowhere is this truer than AI. We each may not have our own C-3PO, but we live in a world where AI and machine learning are commonplace, whether in voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google, in recommendations for the next show on Netflix, or in the safety systems of our cars. AI is making our lives easier, safer, and more enjoyable.
The same is true in government. In NSW, we are already using AI to help maintain our trains, protect our endangered species, keep patients safe from sepsis in our hospitals, and to bolster our cyber defences. As we go beyond digital and digitise more government services for our communities, we have a huge opportunity for AI to make these services even simpler, personalised, and secure.
As we embrace the use of AI in government, we must remember this: behind every algorithm is the human who created it. AI is not infallible, and far from it. When unchecked, AI can magnify the biases we deal with every day and cause unintended harm at scale. Government cannot shy away from these issues.
This strategy – the first AI strategy for the NSW Government – has recognised these challenges and charted a course for AI to be used safely across government with the right safeguards in place. This includes thorough consideration of the ethics of any AI use, a recognition of the challenges in buying third-party AI products, and the need to build up our own expert AI skills inside government.
We have created the NSW AI Advisory Committee to guide and oversight the use of AI in government. The first of its kind in Australia, the Committee has been pivotal in building community trust in the work that we do and has been instrumental in developing the AI Assurance Framework, which will enable us to assure our AI projects against the NSW AI Ethics Framework.
Our strategy was the result of an extensive period of consultation with the community, academic leaders, ethics experts, industry partners, and more than 1000 members of the public. Furthermore, the accomplishments we have made under the strategy have been a continuing product of innovative partnerships between government agencies as well as with representatives from industry and academia. However, this is just the start of the conversation. AI technology is advancing at such a rapid rate that we must not believe that the pathway set by this strategy is complete. It is imperative that we continue our open dialogue with stakeholders and the public to ensure that the NSW Government continues to recognise and respond to the challenges of AI now and in the future.
By getting this right, we will turbocharge a new wave of government services that will make lives easier and safer for the people of NSW.
I am grateful to everyone who gave their invaluable insights to the development and implementation of the strategy. I hope you will keep the conversation going as we continue into our AI-informed future.
The Hon. Victor Dominello MP
Minister for Customer Service
Minister for Digital
There are three key components of the Government’s overarching approach to AI:
Sets out a way forward for AI adoption by Government, to help deliver world-class services for the people of NSW
Requires all public servants to implement AI in a way that is consistent with key ethical principles and the AI User Guide