NSW Govt backs AI inquiry

NSW Govt backs AI inquiry

Will cover facial recognition, biometric surveillance, algorithmic programming and similar technology following next year’s state elections.

Victor Dominello (NSW Govt)

Victor Dominello (NSW Govt)

Credit: Supplied

The NSW Government has agreed to back an inquiry into the use of artificial intelligent technology in the state and whether NSW’s legislative framework is “fit-for-purpose". 

The proposed inquiry will explore areas such as transport, health and cyber security, alongside technology including facial recognition, biometric surveillance, and algorithmic programming. 

The inquiry will be launched pending the results of the next state elections in March and will be conducted by the Committee of Law and Safety in 2023. 

 "While no committee can ever seek to bind its successor, the Committee considers that the first inquiry of the next Law and Safety Committee should focus on a fulsome review of AI,” said committee chair Ray Williams. 

“In particular, looking at the opportunities and potential uses of such emerging technologies and the surrounding policies and legislative frameworks for managing those technologies and any associated risks." 

The inquiry follows a CHOICE investigation which revealed that Kmart, Bunnings Warehouse and The Good Guys, were using facial recognition technology, largely without customers' knowledge or consent. 

An ensuring public uproar saw the retailer "pause" their use of the technology as the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) investigates the legality of its use. 

Despite the controversy, Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government Victor Dominello said the NSW inquiry will explore ways in which AI can be used more broadly throughout NSW. 

“AI has the potential to significantly improve service delivery and quality of life in a host of areas, including transport, health and cyber security. It is imperative that we remain at the forefront of this ever-emerging space,” Dominello said. 

“Whether it’s facial recognition, use of biometrics to enable digital identity, or use of AI and algorithms for data analysis, we must strike the right balance between advancing technology and safeguarding privacy and security.” 

On a global level, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) presented a global standard on the ethics of artificial intelligence (AI) to be adopted by almost 200 member states.

The standard defines common values and principles that will guide the construction of the necessary legal infrastructure to ensure the healthy development of AI. 

This year, spending on AI was predicted to grow 21.3 per cent to US$62 billion, according to analyst firm Gartner. 

Knowledge management, virtual assistants, autonomous vehicles, digital workplaces and crowdsourced data are now said to make up the top five use cases for AI software spending in 2022. 

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