In May 2019, the Academy responded to the public consultation by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science on ‘Artificial Intelligence: Australia’s Ethics Framework’.

The consultation discussion paper, prepared by CSIRO’s Data61, provided an ethical framework and a set of principles, intended to lay 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. Our response welcomed the framework and noted its value as a basis for developing more targeted approaches in areas such as health.

In our response, we highlighted 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. There is also a need for a mechanism for consumer reporting of issues (by patients and clinicians) and empowering authorities to act in a timely manner in the event of suspected breaches will be important.

The Academy expressed support for the paper’s conclusion that investing in avenues for patient and public feedback and dialogue on AI will be key to developing and implementing valuable technologies.