My last couple of articles provided you with an insight into artificial intelligence, robotics, and machine learning. While all those new innovations and developments are meant to assist us humans, they also come with big risks.

I assumed that we have set laws regarding the above, however I was surprised with my research results. If I would like to find out any Council regulations regarding street signage, I can get the information in just a couple of clicks on my keyboard. If I need any information on commercial law, or import/export laws in Australia, Google will provide me with pages full of information on my chosen topic.

Researching Australian A.I. law left me puzzled as I was not able to find a specific section of the law outlining regulations and acts covering this topic in detail, which I found scary when you think of what kind of technology we are already using.

Most of the information I was able to track down were ‘Discussion Papers’ send by well respected tertiary education institutions and top tier law firms to our government. Most of them are covering the privacy act, in other words, are putting suggestions forward on how to protect us when we use technology, which contains artificial intelligence. I am pleased that those organisations are working closely with our government to keep us safe.

The closest I came in finding something useful was at the Library of Congress, ‘Regulation of Artificial Intelligence: East/South Asia and the Pacific’. According to a news article published in January 2018, a survey of Australian senior executives and IT decision-makers found that “almost nine in 10 business leaders at large Australian businesses having deployed artificial intelligence (AI) technologies within their organisations in some form,” with fifty-one percent of Australian organisations deploying AI in the context of machine learning, 48 percent looking at automated reasoning, 47 percent at robotics, 44 percent at knowledge representation, and 39 percent Natural Language Processing.

In terms of the public sector, the Australian government signed a deal with IBM in July 2018 for the company to provide a $1 billion five-year technology service to accelerate the uptake of block-chain, artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing in the public sector. The deal was led by the Digital Transformation Agency, which was formally established as a separate agency in October 2016 to guide, oversee and drive the Government’s ambitious digital and ICT agendas. The federal government aims to be one of the top three digital governments in the world by 2025.

The 2018–19 Australian federal government budget included an AU$29.9 million (about US$21.7 million) funding package over four years to develop the artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities of Australian businesses and workers. The package is comprised of four elements: development of AI skills through the funding of postgraduate scholarships and the development of online resources to engage students and support teachers to deliver AI content in the Australian curriculum; development of a Technology Road map to inform government investment in artificial intelligence by identifying global opportunities in both artificial intelligence and machine learning, and any barriers to adoption in Australia; development of a national AI Ethics Framework and Standards Framework to address ethics for adopting such technologies in Australia; and AU$25 million in funding for a Cooperative Research Centers Program project area, which will focus specifically on AI.

In the area of ethics and human rights implications of AI, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner published the Guide to Data Analytics and the Australian Privacy Principles in March 2018. In addition, the Australian Human Rights Commission discussed AI in a July 2018 issues paper on human rights and technology that asks how Australian law should protect human rights in the development and use of new technologies.

The issues paper was published at the commencement of a major three-year project on this topic, which will see a discussion paper published in early 2019 and final recommendations delivered in late 2019. A website has been established in order to provide information on the project and engage the public through consultation processes.

I have managed to find some information on autonomous vehicles. In May 2017, the National Transport Commission (NTC) published the Guidelines for Trials of Automated Vehicles in Australia. It subsequently also developed national enforcement guidelines to clarify how the concepts, contained in the Australian Road Rules, of “control” and “proper control” should apply to vehicles with automated functions.

To date, three Australian states have enacted legislation related to enabling trials of autonomous vehicles. Although each of the laws differ in approach, they include approval processes and insurance requirements related to conducting trials, as well as covering safety management plans and data collection. Other jurisdictions also have projects or initiatives associated with testing cooperative and automated vehicles.

In May 2018, the NTC published a policy paper that recommended national legislative reform to

  • provide clarity about the situations when an automated driving system (ADS), rather than a human driver, may drive a vehicle
  • ensure there is a legal entity that can be held responsible for the ADS when it is operating and
  • establish any new legal obligations that may be required  for  users  of  automated vehicles.

The reforms are part of a broader national reform program that aims to put end-to-end regulation in place by 2020 to support the safe commercial deployment and operation of automated vehicles at all levels of automation. As part of this work, in 2018 the NTC also published a Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) that details the legislative options to underpin the safety assurance system to support the safe, commercial deployment and operation of automated vehicles at all levels of automation. It has also released discussion papers on regulating government access to C-ITS (Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems) and automated vehicle data, and on motor accident injury insurance and automated vehicles.

I have also found some information on autonomous weapons systems, which utilise A.I. & machine learning. A 2015 inquiry by the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee on the potential use by the Australian Defence Force of unmanned air, maritime, and land platforms resulted in recommendations that included that the Australian Defence Force acquire armed unmanned platforms when the capability requirement exists and the Australian Government make a policy statement regarding their use. This policy statement will:

  • affirm that armed unmanned platforms will be used in accordance with international law;
  • commit that armed unmanned platforms will only be operated by the Australian Defence Force personnel; and
  • include appropriate transparency measures governing the use of armed unmanned platforms.

The government’s response to this recommendation included a statement that, if the Government decides to acquire armed unmanned systems, Defence will develop policy and doctrine concerning their use. All Australian Defence capabilities, including unmanned platforms, will continue to be operated in accordance with Australian domestic law and consistent with Australia’s international legal obligations. For more info:

On the upside, Standards Australia ( created a ‘Discussion Paper’ in June 2019 about Developing Standard for Artificial Intelligence: Hearing Australia’s Voice. A round table was held during June & July 2019 which covered A.I. at home, work, community, credit card fraud, booking healthcare appointments, Human resource management, etc. Special attention was given to A.I. Standardisation Roadmap, an A.I. Ethics Framework, an A.I. Technology Road map. Furthermore, the Australian Human Rights Commission is also conducting a wide-ranging project on Human right and technology.

Unfortunately, I am still not satisfied with my research outcome and can clearly see how technology is evolving at light speed, but the law, which should go hand in hand with those new inventions lacks substance or is not existing. Currently Australia is still in the early stages of A.I. standardisation, which is a problem taking into consideration the huge amount of money the Australian government is putting towards space exploration and STEM education. Let’s hope that slow developing government regulations will not hold us back in embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

I hope you enjoyed this article and if you’d like to learn more about this topic, just give us a call.

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Synergy Consulting Australia is led by Ilona Solinska. Ilona has over 19 years of international business consulting experience.  She is a successful Business Growth Strategist, Educator, Keynote speaker, and Writer. Ilona has coached hundreds of businesses in the area of Marketing, Finance, Legal, Compliance, Operation, Change & Project Management and is a highly sought-after presenter on a wide variety of business topics.