Industry associations invited to ‘observe’ AI Expert Group

James Riley
Editorial Director

The federal government has invited at least three industry associations to participate as ‘observers’ in the work on AI regulation being done by a newly-created Artificial Intelligence Expert Group.

Unveiled by Industry minister Ed Husic last week, the AI Expert Group has been given until June 30 to provide advice to the department on immediate work on transparency, testing and accountability – including options for so-called AI guardrails for ‘high-risk’ applications to ensure AI systems are safe.

The 12 eminent persons appointed to the group cover a broad set of skills and background, from the national science agency CSIRO’s chief scientist to Professor Simon Lucey from the Australian Institute for Machine Learning and global AI leader from UNSW Professor Toby Walsh.

What the AI Expert Group seemed to be missing were industry voices that could bring strictly commercial understanding to the discussion, or industry people with direct service delivery experience that could bring real-world engagement on risk to the table. has now learned that the Business Council of Australia, the Technology Council of Australia, and the Australian Information Industry Association have been asked to participate in the AI Expert Group as observers.

Parliament House
Parliament House, Canberra

It is understood the Business Council of Australia’s director of Digital, Cyber and Future Industries Chris Louie and Tech Council of Australia acting CEO Ryan Black attended the first meeting the group, and that the AIIA has also been told it has been given observer status.

It is understood that the Industry department, which put together the composition of the AI Expert Group had always intended that the peak industry bodies were able to participate in the process.

What is unclear is whether or not the professional association – the Australian Computer Society – will also sit in on meetings as observers. It is understood that at least three of the eminent experts appointed to the group are ACS members, although this was not the basis for their appointment.

The participation of the industry groups was not announced as part of the expert groups announcement.

The AI Expert Group has been given a tight deadline to complete its work advising the department on transparency and accountability, particularly as it relates to high-risk use cases.

At its launch last week, Minister Husic said he wants the work completed by June 30.

“Setting a deadline is important, to bring focus to the group’s work and also to send a signal as well about the imperative – which is moving as quickly as we can,” Mr Husic said.

The middle of the year is a hard deadline, but he said would work with the group, and if they come back and say they need additional time, then there is flexibility “given the complexity of what we’re trying to deal with here.”

“But we’re sending a very clear signal. Our preference is to get moving on this as quickly as we can, and we’re confident that they should be able to do that work in that [allotted] time,” the minister said.

What happens once that process is complete is not clear. While the AI Expert Group has been given a clear direction, and a tight deadline that brings the group to an end at the middle of the year, it is understood that an ongoing and recalibrated AI advisory may be established to provide advice on AI regulatory issues.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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