NSW government pledges increased transparency in its AI agenda

The state government said it will launch its artificial intelligence strategy early March next year.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

New South Wales Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello has pledged that transparency will be the focus for the state government when it formally launches its artificial intelligence (AI) strategy early March next year.

"As a citizen, the biggest question in the next five to 10 years is transparency. Who is ultimately making that decision … and if I can see that, then again, I can be informed of my rights, informed of the outcome, and I can then choose a certain pathway," he said.

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"For AI, I think the keyword is transparency. Otherwise it's just over there, and we've delegated authority to make everything over there and we're just sheep over here. AI requires a lot of transparency and I'm proud we're really driving the agenda."

NSW government chief information and digital officer Greg Wells has revealed how, for instance, Revenue NSW has already applied AI to ensure that the department is not "targeting vulnerable people around fines where debt has built up because you've got on a train because you're homeless".

"How do you stratify that and not hit those people? We're automating those decisions, it's at the end of the analytics for a bit of learning … it's those really good use cases because that's real the value. There's a bit of stigma around it's scary, but there's really great use cases for customers," he said.

See also: How AI will impact Australian labor market, and how many jobs will die because of it (TechRepublic)

Speaking to a room of media and members of the local startup community last Friday, Dominello added from next year, there are plans to consolidate the number of state government websites because "I'm a Marie Kondo nut".

"My frustration is there are a whole lot of websites in government that's frankly just digital clutter and how is that a good experience for anyone trying to navigate their way through government, which is hard enough at the best of times," he said.

"When you look at the websites some were built five, six, 10 years ago. God knows ... what the traffic is, do people like it … All we just need to do is standardise it or consolidate as much as we can so it's one experience."

These initiatives will form part of the state government's "Beyond Digital" strategy that was launched at the end of last month. At the time Dominello touted it will build on top of the work the state government has already done but refocuses the shift on to citizens.

"The reason we're talking 'beyond digital' is because when this government was elected in March this year, we fundamentally changed the way the government works. We don't just have a Department of Customer Service, we've got a committee inside of government, you could call them the specialist performance committee, that basically puts people first," he told ZDNet at the time.

"Whether you're having an experience in education and then you need to move across to health, then you need to move across to the communities, we want to make sure as people move across, it is a seamless experience, rather than having disjointed and sub-optimal engagements with various agencies."

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