The Academy has responded to the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science’s consultation on ‘Artificial Intelligence: Australia’s Ethics Framework’, welcoming the comprehensive ethical framework outlined within the consultation discussion paper, which we believe lays the groundwork for the ethical implementation of AI in Australia. Application of AI-driven technologies in health is one area that demands especially careful consideration – inappropriate use of these technologies can put patients at risk, jeopardise privacy and deteriorate public trust.

A fundamental principle of AI in health, as it currently stands, is that it supports augmented decision making – enhancing a function currently undertaken by humans, but those humans remain critical to the development, implementation, monitoring and oversight of the AI. Health and healthcare could benefit considerably from the introduction of these sorts of AI, but we must work through the complexities and move forward based on a thorough understanding of the opportunities, challenges, benefits and risks. To achieve this, meaningful public and patient engagement will be required and we fully support the paper’s conclusion that investing in avenues for public feedback and dialogue on AI will be key to developing and implementing valuable technologies.

Our response noted that the framework would benefit from the inclusion of greater detail on the challenges around patient (or more broadly, user) consent and data sovereignty across all populations. There are unique opportunities and challenges associated with collecting, storing, using and sharing health data, which often demand careful consideration.

The Academy is contributing to debate in this area through policy work within our ‘Shaping the Future’ series and further detail on this work will be published in our policy pages shortly. In the meantime, further detail on our submission to this consultation is available from the relevant policy project page and the full response can be downloaded below.