Interview with David Koch, Sunrise, Seven Network

David Koch
Regulation of artificial intelligence.

DAVID KOCH: Well, some of the world's top artificial intelligence experts have issued a stark warning to global leaders. In a joint statement, they say "mitigating the risk of extinction from AI," yes, extinction, "should be a global priority alongside other societal scale risks, such as pandemics and nuclear war." Wow, that's serious. The warning comes as the Federal Government releases two discussion papers today starting a conversation around regulating artificial intelligence in Australia. Joining me now, Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic. 

Minister, this is a brave new world. What regulation do you think we need?

ED HUSIC, MINISTER FOR INDUSTRY AND SCIENCE: I think that's what we're opening up the discussion around, Kochie. I think a lot of people understand that AI has become a part of their lives in either ways that they do know or it's just in the background. But there's clearly a community concern about whether or not the technology is getting ahead of itself and what curbs are there to make sure that we recognise the risk and deal with it. And that's what we're trying to do in terms of reshaping some of our laws that are currently in place, making sure they're fit for purpose.

DAVID KOCH: All right, tell us about the risk, run us through it, because we see all this science fiction stuff in movies in the past and going, "yeah, but it's really not that good in real life." Has AI made a massive leap forward? Is that the concern? What could it do?

ED HUSIC: Well, I think we've seen over the course of the last six months, some of the versions of ChatGPT that have been released, generative AI that's come out, that has made people think, "wow, this is advanced in terms of its development beyond what we appreciated". And when it comes to things like automated decision-making, we've seen this play out in ways that have really impacted people. The most recent example being Robodebt. And if you don't have deep thought applied to the way in which all that is set up, and if it does impact people's lives in the way that, for example, Robodebt did, that's a real issue. And we don't want to have those repetitions.

DAVID KOCH: Because it can do great stuff in medicine can't it? There's a really good side to AI - 


DAVID KOCH: - but then there's the dark side to AI; scams and things like that.

ED HUSIC: Yeah. And that point that you just made is really crucial because AI, if used correctly, can make a difference. For example, detecting cancers way quicker and being able to get that decision or that diagnosis made. But you also want a person at the other end, once that diagnosis has been made, to walk you through the treatments and walk you through what you need to do next. That's great. And it can add to the economy, too. But people clearly - and I've had people say to me that they're not necessarily concerned about technology normally, but what they're seeing now is making them think, "okay, how do we keep this in check and make it work for us?"

DAVID KOCH: Well, good to hear. Can you keep us up to date? Because usually government regulation lags technology by a long time. Looks as though we're right onto it here. So, appreciate your time and we'll talk again in the future. Thank you.

ED HUSIC: And before I go, hang on, and I just want to say thank you, too. I know a lot of people have been surprised by the news, but thank you very much for being a face that we've been so accustomed to for so long. And thanks for everything you've done.

DAVID KOCH: That's very kind of you. Thank you for that.