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Victoria announces all-party group for AI development

Victoria has formed a government group specifically to study the economic and social impacts of artificial intelligence, modelled on one formed in the UK last year.

Victoria has become the first Australian state to set up a special group specifically to study the social and economic impacts of artificial intelligence (AI).

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Artificial Intelligence appears to be modelled on a UK version set up last year that has already examined the impact of machine learning on human jobs.

The all-party group, announced in Melbourne on Wednesday by state Minister for Innovation Philip Dalidakis and opposition leader David Southwick, includes MPs across the political spectrum.

The Victorian Parliament paired with Committee for Melbourne and RMIT University for the announcement in front of Parliament House, with Dalidakis tweeting that "It is up to all us [sic] in the public & private sector to embrace the opportunity [and] not be fearful of it [AI]."

Federal parliamentarians Bridget McKenzie and Ed Husic said late last year that Australia needs to have a diplomatic discussion about the potential impact of advanced AI and the boundaries that need to be established to ensure it is used for good.

Speaking at the Australian Computer Society's (ACS) Reimagination Thought Leaders Summit, Senator McKenzie, chair of Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Trade Legislation Committee, said if bright minds like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk are warning of "evil AI" destroying humankind if not properly monitored and regulated, then this is something that as a nation needs to be publicly discussed.

"I think we do need to be very, very cognisant of that fact because there's not a lot of research. Everyone's so excited about the potential that they're not doing the research into the impact," McKenzie told ZDNet.

"Let's have a discussion about ... the boundaries we need to put in place. Obviously, we want people to have the creative freedom to develop and use AI in a way they can give maximum benefit to humanity, but where's the trip wire? I think we haven't really focused on that enough," Husic said during a panel discussion.

AI technologies trialed in Victoria the last couple of years include driverless buses for university campuses and in-home AI technology for elderly Australians.

With AAP

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