The Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA), the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA), and machinery manufacturer John Deere have once again pushed back on the proposal that any right to repair changes need to be introduced in Australia. In its response to the Productivity Commission's right-to-repair draft report, IGEA knocked back support for several of the recommendations that were put forward. These include enabling the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to develop and publish estimates of the minimum expected durability for products, such as video game consoles and devices, and requiring manufacturers to include additional mandatory warranty text that state entitlements to consumer guarantees under Australian Consumer Law (ACL) do not require consumers to use authorised repair services or spare parts. It repeatedly cited in its latest submission [PDF] that making changes would "cause confusion for consumers", pointing out for instance that additional text may "erroneously cause consumers to believe that their entitlements under the voluntary warranty (as opposed to the guarantees) do not require consumers to use authorised repair services or spare parts (which may not necessarily be true)". As part of providing additional information to the Productivity Commission, IGEA added that if manufacturers were required to make additional repair information available where they could bypass Trusted Platform Modules, it would open up the potential for the information to be "weaponised" by malicious actors, particularly as there are no licensing or certification schemes for electronic repairers that would help manufacturers discern between legitimate and illegitimate repairers. IGEA also took the opportunity to defend video game console manufacturers saying that it is in the "financial interest" of console makers that customers have "well-functioning and reliable devices that last for years".
The government is wary of over-regulating new technologies such as artificial intelligence and will resist making ethics standards and codes mandatory for Australian businesses, Digital Economy minister Jane Hume says. In an address to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), Senator Hume said the federal government would play an enabling role in accelerating the growth of artificial intelligence, along with setting standards in terms of ethics. "AI, along with other digital technologies, will play an increasingly important role in our economy and society over the next decade and beyond," Senator Hume said. "As we continue to vault forward in this space, government has a pivotal role to play as an enabler, and as a standard setter – particularly in regards to ethics. "The government has a significant responsibility … to ensure that AI, as an industry as well as a technology, has every chance to flourish, making sure we have the right settings, skills and expertise in place to ensure Australia is a global forerunner." The May budget allocated $124 million to artificial intelligence initiatives, including $50 million for a National AI Intelligence Centre within CSIRO and $34 million in grants for AI projects addressing national challenges. The Coalition has also unveiled AI ethics principles, with eight guiding principles "designed to help achieve safer and more reliable outcomes for all Australians". These principles and other standards around AI are currently entirely voluntary for Australian businesses, and Senator Hume said the government will avoid making them mandatory. "I obviously would rather have a voluntary code where industry has the input to what's in the code.
Australia's Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and the Digital Economy Jane Hume has assured the country's AI ethics framework will remain voluntary for the foreseeable future. As part of her address during the virtual CEDA AI Innovation in Action event on Tuesday, Hume explained there were sufficient regulatory frameworks in place and that another one would be unnecessary. "We already have a very strong regulatory framework; we already have privacy laws, we already have consumer laws, we already have a data commissioner, we already have a privacy commissioner, we have a misconduct regulator. We have all those guardrails that already sit around the way we run our businesses," she told ZDNet. "AI is simply a technology that's being imposed upon an existing business. It's important that technology is being used to solve problems. The problems themselves haven't really changed, so our regulations certainly have to be flexible enough to accommodate technology changes … we want to make sure that there's nothing in regulations and legislation that prevents the advancement of technology. "But at the same time, building new regulations for technology, unless we can see a use case for it, is something that we would be reluctant to do, to over legislate and overprescribe." The federal government developed the national AI ethics framework in 2019, following the release of a discussion paper by Data61, the digital innovation arm of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). The discussion paper highlighted a need for development of AI in Australia to be wrapped with a sufficient framework to ensure nothing is set onto citizens without appropriate ethical consideration. Making up the framework are eight ethical principles: Human, social and environment wellbeing; human-centred values in respect to human rights, diversity, and the autonomy of individuals; fairness; privacy protection and security of data; reliability and safety in accordance with the intended purpose of the AI systems; transparency and explainability; contestability; and accountability. Hume believes the principles have been designed in a way that make them "kind of universal" and therefore industry would be willing to adopt them voluntarily. "There's nothing in there that people would feel uncomfortable with, there's nothing that's too prescriptive … these are all things that we would expect.
Hospitals in Victoria's South West, including public health agencies under the South West Alliance of Rural Health and Barwon Health in Geelong, are set to roll out a data platform capable of real-time analysis using AI, machine learning, as well as business and clinical intelligence. The health organisations will be deploying the IRIS for Health platform by global tech provider InterSystems. The data platform, according to InterSystems's website, is specifically engineered to extract value from healthcare data. It is a standards-based platform that is able to read and write Health Level 7's Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (HL7 FHIR) for developing healthcare applications. It is also capable of ingesting, processing and storing transaction data "at high rates" while simultaneously processing high volume analytic workloads involving historical and real-time data. While the health providers have interconnected systems, including clinical and patient administration systems, specialist healthcare applications and data analytics solutions, they don't have a single data repository supporting real-time data analysis.
Volcanologists can predict when volcanos are going to erupt if they have a full detail of its eruptions. But for potentially apocalyptic supervolcanoes, such as the one bubbling under Yellowstone National Park, it's nearly impossible, given how varied their known eruptions have been, according to a new study. Researchers at Cardiff University noted there is not a'single model' that can help scientists understand how eruptions from supervolcanoes happen, making it difficult to understand when they might occur in the future. The researchers looked at geochemical and petrological evidence of 13 supereruptions that have happened over the past 2 million years, including the most recent one, Taupō volcano in New Zealand, which happened more than 24,000 years ago. Experts said there is not a'single model' that can help them understand how eruptions from supervolcanoes happen There was no'single, unified mode' that showed how each of the 13 played out, with some starting gradually over a period of weeks to months, while others exploded suddenly and violently. The researchers also found that the eruptions lasted for varying times, some as short as a period of days or weeks, while others lasted decades.
Wildfires across the world have been increasing in frequency and severity over the last five years. A number of records were broken in 2020 thanks to Australia's brush fires as well as wildfires in Spain and the Western United States. Due to the increase in devastation from fires, firefighters are also facing greater health risks after battling against blazes. To help with this problem, the Linux Foundation has announced that it will host Pyrrha -- a solution created by AI-platform Prometeo that uses artificial intelligence and the internet of things to guard the safety of firefighters. Prometeo won IBM's 2019 Call for Code Global Challenge after designing their platform, which monitors and acts on firefighter health and safety in real-time and over the long-term.
Backpacks to track bees, bushfire modelling and sensors to detect broken water pipes are some of the technologies being developed in Australia as part of an artificial intelligence boom. Digital Economy Minister Jane Hume says artificial intelligence has the capacity to improve the lives of all Australians. Senator Hume will tell a Committee for Economic Development of Australia event on Tuesday the government had two roles to play in terms of AI: an enabler and a standards setter, especially in terms of ethics. Earlier this year the government announced a $1.2 billion digital economic strategy which included an additional $124 million commitment to the AI initiatives. The CSIRO estimates AI technology will contribute $22 trillion into the global economy by 2030.
The one glaring gap in the Commonwealth government's AI strategy and action plan is a process to develop a coordinated governance framework around the development, use and procurement of AI services within commonwealth government agencies. This is where the NSW Government has taken a clear lead, setting out a mandatory customer service circular which all NSW Government agencies need to adhere to. There is practical guidance on adhering to principles, assessing risk, managing data, sourcing AI solutions, meeting legal obligations and more.
Earlier this year, Australia's Productivity Commission released an interim report that looked into vulnerable supply chains, focusing on imports. A final report is now sitting with the government and expected to focus on exports. The purpose of the work led by the Productivity Commission is explained as examining the nature and source of risks to the effective functioning of the Australian economy and Australians' wellbeing associated with disruptions to global supply chains, and to identify any significant vulnerabilities and possible approaches to managing them. "Improvements in technology and trade liberalisation have made it easier and cheaper to source many goods and services from overseas. This has brought benefits from specialisation and economies of scale. It has also lifted the complexity of supply chains -- modern supply chains often rely on inputs from across the globe and can consist of thousands of firms," the report [PDF] said, using the Toyota supply chain as an example, which consists of over 2,100 suppliers.
Single Australians looking for sex or love will soon stand out from the competition if they've been vaccinated against Covid-19. Dating app Bumble announced it will roll out a new feature this week enabling users in Australia and New Zealand to add a "vaccination badge" to their profile if they've received a Covid-19 jab. Competitor Tinder says it looks forward to "making [vaccine] badges available soon" in Australia too. A Bumble representative says it will not independently verify the vaccination status of those who claim the badge, meaning the system will rely on user honesty. The dating app says it decided to launch the feature after a recent survey revealed a "45% increase in users asking potential dates if they had the vaccine or have Covid symptoms". It's not just in Australia that dating apps are encouraging users to boast about their vaccination status.