Australia can become a world-leader in the AI race, if we implement a regulatory system that protects consumers and attracts developers.

That’s the view of Australian Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel, who spoke at the Creative Innovation Global conference in Melbourne last week.

As Australia’s chief scientist, Dr Finkel’s role is to provide leading and independent advice to Australia in topics of innovation and technology.

And his advice was simple – start developing attractive regulatory frameworks around AI, and start doing it soon.

“Let’s get ahead of the world and develop regulatory systems that make us a destination of choice for ethical AI developers.”

Under Finkel’s frameworks, appropriate regulation will ensure consumer trust by acknowledging the risks these rapidly-developing technologies pose, while also developing market conditions conducive to innovation and growth.

“Put yourself in the position of a CEO of an AI 2.0 company,” he said.

“You don’t want a total ban. You don’t want a free-for-all.

“You want a forward-looking regulatory regime, with clear expectations, that gives consumers confidence that you can roll out the technology safely.

“So obviously, the rules have to change. The rules have to evolve for all AI.”

He compared the proposed regulation to the Fairtrade stamp – as a way for consumers to be informed of the ethical consequences of their choices.

His calls echoed those of the World Economic Forum, who earlier this year released the 12th Edition of its Global Risks Report.

“How to govern fast-developing technologies is a complex question,” it states.

“Regulating too heavily too quickly can hold back progress, but a lack of governance can exacerbate risks as well as creating unhelpful uncertainty for potential investors and innovators.”

The report highlighted AI as one of the technologies that requires the most regulatory attention.

“To ensure that AI stays within the boundaries that we set for it, we must continue to grapple with building trust in systems that will transform our social, political and business environments, make decisions for us, and become an indispensable faculty for interpreting the world around us.”

Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy and the Future of Work, Ed Husic, called on the Turnbull government to begin implementing appropriate regulation around AI.

“While AI has begun to be applied in a wide variety of beneficial ways, very few people are thinking about boundary setting for the tech that thinks for itself,” he said in a statement.

“The Federal Opposition continues to urge the Turnbull government to use Australia’s traditionally trusted voice to encourage governments begin to collaborate and cooperate on this vital issue.”