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Australia bats for tougher AI laws

Australia said on Thursday it planned to regulate artificial intelligence (AI) including a potential ban on deep fakes and realistic-looking but false content, amid concerns the technology could be misused.

The move comes on the heels of a meeting of top AI executives earlier this week when they raised the “risk of extinction from AI” and urged policymakers to equate it to risks posed by pandemics and nuclear war.

“There is clearly, in the community, a concern about whether or not the technology is getting ahead of itself,” Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic told ABC television.

A report by Australia’s National Science and Technology Council released on Thursday showed AI-generated content could be misused in parliamentary consultations by creating a flood of submissions to mislead public opinion.

“Governments have got a clear role to play in recognising the risk and … putting curbs in place,” Husic said.

Australia was among the first countries regulate AI, unveiling a voluntary ethics framework in 2018.

Husic acknowledged gaps remained in laws covering copyright, privacy and consumer protection, and said the government wanted to ensure its legal frameworks were “fit for purpose” given the rapid development of the AI sector.

European lawmakers last month inched closer to pass a law to regulate AI, potentially the world’s first comprehensive AI law that could form a precedent among advanced economies.

Husic said Australia would also consider banning high-risk elements of AI if there was strong demand for it during public consultations to frame the new laws. Reuters

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