Summary of NSW Branch Forum - 1 March 2023


  • Every month, the ACS NSW Branch Forum meets in the Barangaroo Hub. On 1 March 2023, the NSW Branch hosted its second Branch Forum of the year with a record number of registered interest in attending. The topic of the discussion was our role in the future of data and AI on home soil.

On 1 March 2023, the NSW Branch of the Australian Computer Society hosted its second Branch Forum of the year with a record number of registered interest in attending.

In another insightful installment on the significance of technology at play, a veteran lawyer and business consultant uncovered a range of factors affecting Australians’ everyday lives, headlines involving corporations, service providers, and government entities, and approaches we need as a society to take us forward.

The participants in attendance included long-time supporters of ACS including practitioners in AI; small to medium business consultants; professional services firms – forensics, audit, accountancy, legal; banking; education; and government. New members and guests actively participated in discussions over the networking part of the evening.

Here’s a brief recap of the highlights:

Use of AI is in use in our everyday lives. Facial recognition may be used to detect aggressive customers returning to stores. Retailers’ entrances could have a notice that states facial recognition is in use but not why; if the sign is noticed, most would just move on.

· Responsible AI is not just from a regulatory stance, but it should come also from the groundswell of the people. Questions need to be asked, the right questions, to the right people, at the right time.

Do not assume the technology ie data privacy, quality of data, and algorithms are trustworthy and reliable. Cases already exist that show we shouldn’t, Peter gave examples of these being examined by the Royal Commission, the ACCC, and the Australian Energy Regulator. Google itself is facing issues over AI ethics. With many experts at their exposal, the chances of other smaller entities getting this right are not promising. The attention from the groundswell of people is needed.

Peter talked about the available papers on this topic. With respect to one paper, in particular, the Artificial Intelligence Assurance Framework, issued by the NSW Government is perhaps the best there is, even globally.

The makeup of what Responsible AI looks like includes knowing what it is, the decision-making chain, and what it’s based on including algorithm, and data; why it is responsible, including fit for purpose, safety, transparency, and accountability; and how it is responsible, involves privacy regulation and the Australian Consumer Law as starters.

Addressing the Responsible AI problem is multi-faceted and the approach should not be dismissed as “the devil in the machine”. The approach needs to include recognising the right imperatives and the right incentives, transparency, culture, and standards that could help.

Those interested in a holistic view of technology around us may be aware the first Branch Forum of 2023 was Gabe Marzano’s presentation on Cyber Security. Following through this event on AI Ethics, be sure to continue the discussion on the next Branch Forum event on Data and the Digital Self, to be held at the ACS Sydney Hub on 5 April, from 7:30 AM. Registration is required.