Media Release: Urgent Review on the risks that artificial intelligence pose to our civil liberties & human rights

Today marks the first day of the Artificial Intelligence Safety Summit.

We have signed an open letter that will be delivered at the Summit on the urgent need for the risks that AI poses to our civil liberties and human rights to be considered when developing policies and regulations on the use and proliferation of AI. 

You can view the open letter here.

Comments from Lydia Shelly, President, NSW Council for Civil Liberties.

“We are living through the age of a “technological revolution” that is changing the way we work, live and how we develop and maintain our relationships with each other.”

“Artificial intelligence (“AI”) is already playing a role in this technological revolution, and it is already impacting our social, political, and economic systems – including in Australia.”

“There is no doubt that the use of AI can be of enormous benefit; but it also poses substantial risks to our civil liberties and human rights. These risks must be mitigated and curtailed.”

“The Council has consistently raised concerns regarding the lack of regulations for the proliferation and use of AI technology. We are concerned that the extent of the risk and the steps that governments need to take to mitigate these risks are not occurring at the same speed in which the proliferation of AI is occurring.”

“We recently made submissions to the Department of Industry, Science and Resources regarding the Australian Government’s role in mitigating the potential risks that AI poses to our civil liberties and our human rights.”

“AI poses substantial risk to our civil liberties and human rights. This technology could be used to stifle dissent in communities, undermine a person’s right to privacy and movement, deepen inequalities, as well as automate the decision-making process that could result in unjust and unlawful outcomes. These risks are not mere speculation or ‘science fiction’. “

“Australians are all too familiar with the impact that can be caused when technology is misused. We have seen the pain caused by the Robodebt scandal that disproportionately targeted the most vulnerable in our communities.” 

“Only recently, Services Australia has been forced to pause Centrelink repayments for 86,000 people over concerns the welfare debts may be unlawful, without any commitment that these debts will be waived. The extent of how this impacted the most vulnerable in our community remains to be seen.”

“We urge the federal Government to take urgent steps to address the substantial risks posed by AI technology to our civil liberties and:

  1. Establish a statutory office of an AI Safety Commissioner to undertake urgent research of AI risks and to coordinate responses of different government agencies and bodies.
  2. Reform the existing patchwork of legislation that covers current AI regulation.
  3. Protect the privacy of Australians.
  4. Consider a legislative response that adopts a risk-based approach to AI, with graduated obligations for AI developers, deployers and users of AI according to risk.”

“We appreciate that AI technology can greatly improve our way of life – but we must ensure that we do not allow our civil liberties and human rights to be the ultimate price that we pay for such improvements.”

Our submission can be viewed here.