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.
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 – recognises these challenges and charts 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 will also create the NSW AI Advisory Committee to guide and oversight the use of AI in government. The first of its kind in Australia, the committee will be pivotal in building community trust in the work that we do.
Our strategy is 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. However, this is just the start of the conversation. AI technology is advancing at such a rapid rate that our strategy cannot remain static: it must adapt and evolve to reflect modern technology advances and society’s expectations. We will review the policy settings annually in an ongoing, open dialogue with the community.
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 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.
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