Without trust in AI it is unlikely that Australia will receive the benefits it brings.

The benefits and promise of AI for society and business are undeniable. AI helps people make better predictions and informed decisions, it enables innovation, and can deliver productivity gains, improve efficiency, and drive lower costs. Through such measures as AI driven fraud detection it is helping protect physical and financial security – and facilitating the current global fight against COVID-19.

But there are drawbacks; the risk of codifying and reinforcing unfair biases, infringing on human rights such as privacy, spreading fake online content, technological unemployment and the dangers stemming from mass surveillance technologies, critical AI failures and autonomous weapons.

More than half (61 percent) of Australians know little about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and many are unaware we encounter it every day, in search engines, social media and even the realistic chatbot helping us with our online enquiry.

While they are hesitant to trust AI systems, Australians generally accept (42 percent) or tolerate (28 percent) AI, but few approve (16 percent) or embrace (7 percent) it.

Without trust in AI it is unlikely that Australia will receive the benefits it brings.

Our latest report with the University of Queensland, Trust in Artificial Intelligence investigates Australians’ attitudes towards AI and suggests a roadmap towards gaining their trust.

About three quarters of the survey respondents believe commercial organisations use AI to innovate for financial gain, whereas only a third believe they innovate for societal benefit. In addition, they have little confidence in the current regulatory safeguards.

Overall their mistrust stems from their lack of familiarity and understanding of the positive potential of AI and their fear of its negative impact on them and on society. Many also fear their jobs may be taken by the use of AI.

So how can we build trust in the use of AI within the community?

Live up to Australians’ expectations of trustworthy AI

Different cohorts in the workplace and community will have different expectations but a strong message was AI systems need to be developed for the benefit of humanity with high standards for data privacy, security and accountability.

Ensure its use is monitored and results are transparently communicated. Plan for and retrain employees for any unemployment that may result from automation and recognise that while most Australians are comfortable with AI use at work for organisational security and task automation and augmentation, they are less comfortable with AI for employee-focused activities, such as evaluating and monitoring performance, and recruitment and selection.

Build trust with customers, employees and the public more broadly – it is not enough to focus on only one stakeholder group.

Strengthen the regulatory framework for governing AI

Government and companies deploying AI must carefully manage the challenges associated with AI such as fake online content, surveillance, data privacy, cyber security, bias, technological unemployment and autonomous vehicles.

Strengthen the regulatory and legal framework governing AI to better protect people from the risks and support people to feel safe using AI and ensure government and existing regulators take the lead in regulating and governing AI systems, rather than leaving it to industry only.

Trust in AI can be enhanced by the development and use of independent ethics reviews and codes of conduct, perhaps in collaboration with already trusted organisations.

Strengthen Australia’s AI literacy

Familiarity and understanding of AI are key drivers of trust and acceptance of AI. There is an urgent need to educate the community about what AI is and when and how it is being used. This requires investment with responsibility shared by government and organisations using or developing AI.

Taken together these three actions form the backbone of a roadmap for building trust in AI.  A roadmap that if followed will help all Australians to experience the benefits that AI can bring.

Read the full report

Definition of Artificial Intelligence

For the purposes of the survey, Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to computer systems that can perform tasks or make predictions, recommendations or decisions that usually require human intelligence. AI systems can perform these tasks and make these decisions based on objectives set by humans but without explicit human instructions.

Survey Methodology

The University of Queensland/KPMG Australia “Trust in Artificial Intelligence” national survey is the first of its kind to take a deep look at community trust and expectations in relation to AI. The survey involved a nationally representative sample of over 2,500 Australian citizens and was conducted in June to July 2020.


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