Oceania Government


Why Australia is quickly developing a technology-based human rights problem

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Artificial intelligence (AI) might be technology's Holy Grail, but Australia's Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow has warned about the need for responsible innovation and an understanding of the challenges new technology poses for basic human rights. "AI is enabling breakthroughs right now: Healthcare, robotics, and manufacturing; pretty soon we're told AI will bring us everything from the perfect dating algorithm to interstellar travel -- it's easy in other words to get carried away, yet we should remember AI is still in its infancy," Santow told the Human Rights & Technology conference in Sydney in July. Santow was launching the Human Rights and Technology Issues Paper, which was described as the beginning of a major project by the Human Rights Commission to protect the rights of Australians in a new era of technological change. The paper [PDF] poses questions centred on what protections are needed when AI is used in decisions that affect the basic rights of people. It asks also what is required from lawmakers, governments, researchers, developers, and tech companies big and small. Pointing to Microsoft's AI Twitter bot Tay, which in March 2016 showed the ugly side of humanity -- at least as present on social media -- Santow said it is a key example of how AI must be right before it's unleashed onto humans.


Piracy site-block expansion to search engines passes Parliament

ZDNet

Australia's Parliament has passed the Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill 2018, with the federal government saying it will enable rights holders to better fight copyright infringement. The Australian government introduced the new legislation in October, proposing to expand piracy site-block laws from carriage service providers to online search engine providers. The Bill will also allow faster blocks of mirror sites, reduce the burden of proving that a site is hosted outside of Australia, and expand the legislation to sites that not only have the "primary purpose", but also to those that have the "primary effect" of infringing copyright. "The government has zero tolerance for online piracy. It is theft, and damaging to our creative economy and local creators. We are committed to protecting Australia's creative industries and the world-class content we produce every year," Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said.


Autonomous car trial on city streets gives technology the edge over human drivers - PACE

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Cohda Wireless has demonstrated the ability of its driverless car technology to see around corners and locate other vehicles in an'urban canyon' as part of a world-first trial in South Australia. The trial, conducted in a two-block section in the centre of the Adelaide CBD, revealed how smart connected vehicles can detect and respond to risky situations more effectively than a human in a scenario thought to be commonplace in built-up city areas. During the trial, two vehicles approached a four-way intersection at right angles to each other. Tall buildings on each corner of the intersection obstructed the view of the other approaching car. Car 2, driven by a human, fails to adhere to the red-light signal and approaches the intersection at speed, intending to'run' the red light.


Australian government invests AU$6m in EV charging network

ZDNet

The Australian government has announced a AU$6 million investment in an "ultra-rapid" electric vehicle (EV) charging network powered by renewable energy across the nation under the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). According to the federal government, the EV charging network will be deployed around Sydney and Melbourne; between Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, and Adelaide; and across Western Australia. Euroa, in Victoria, and Barnawartha North, outside Albury Wodonga on the New South Wales-Victorian border, will be the first sites to gain charging areas thanks to a grant from the Victorian government. The AU$15 million EV charging network is being built by Chargefox, with plans to develop 21 charging stations across the nation, each around 200km apart. The charging stations are designed to provide a range of 400km or up to 80 percent capacity within 15 minutes of charging, with the network to be worth AU$15 million.


Australia's Crime Stoppers to digitise crime reporting through the cloud

ZDNet

Australia's criminal information reporting service Crime Stoppers has announced it will be implementing a new online reporting tool, extending to members of the public additional ways to report crimes. The organisation has appointed Citadel Group to build out its safety management platform, Keep Us Safe vResponder, specifically around the needs of Crime Stoppers and its network. Citadel's Keep Us Safe application is hosted on Microsoft Azure, which received accreditation in April for its "government-configured" clouds to be used for Australian government data classified up to protected level. Crime Stoppers gathers information supplied by the community to assist police agencies with solving and preventing crime. "In the last two years we've seen an increase in cybercrime and victim reporting from the general public," Crime Stoppers director Peter Price said previously.


Lockheed Martin partners with Uni of Adelaide on machine learning

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Technology and innovation company Lockheed Martin Australia has become the first Foundation Partner with the University of Adelaide's new Australian Institute for Machine Learning. The strategic partnership will deliver world-leading machine learning research for national security, the space industry, business, and the broader community. Machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence that enables computers and machines to learn how to do complex tasks without being programmed by humans. This technology is driving what is known as the "fourth industrial revolution". The University's new Australian Institute for Machine Learning (AIML) – which builds on decades of expertise in artificial intelligence and computer vision – will be based in the South Australian Government's new innovation precinct at Lot Fourteen (the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site).


Canberra stands up AU$9.7m Transport Office to prep for autonomous vehicles

ZDNet

Transportation is about to get a technology-driven reboot. The details are still taking shape, but future transport systems will certainly be connected, data-driven and highly automated. The federal government has announced it will be establishing an Office of Future Transport Technologies, charged with the responsibility of preparing for the arrival of automated vehicles. For a cost of AU$9.7 million, the new office will sit underneath the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, which is headed up by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack. "Automated vehicles are on the verge of becoming commercially available here and the Australian government is taking proactive steps to manage the associated challenges and opportunities within that evolving and future transport landscape," McCormack said in a statement, noting the Australian future transport and mobility industry is expected generate more than AU$16 billion in revenue by 2025.


Microsoft has high hopes for Australian government's big data

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Microsoft wants the Australian government to close loopholes in proposed data sharing-and-release legislation that it believes could be used to shut down or limit access to data without explanation. The software giant used a submission [pdf] to a Prime Minister & Cabinet-led consultation to outline concerns that data could be too easily withheld or not offered in the first place, despite assertions that "much of the Australian government's data is not personal or sensitive". Microsoft suggested that Australian laws should, in part, mimic the EU's reuse of public sector information directive, which requires agencies to explain why they deny access to data. "We note that the proposed process for sharing data does not appear to require Commonwealth data custodians to provide an explanation either when denying a data access request, or if they decide not to provide open access to data in the first instance," Microsoft said. "[We] suggest that the bill require data custodians to provide such an explanation.


NSW driverless shuttle completes first passenger trip

ZDNet

The New South Wales government has welcomed the first passengers on its Driverless Smart Shuttle at Sydney Olympic Park, with the service set to officially start next week, marking stage two of the state's driverless trial. Through its Smart Innovation Centre -- a hub for the "collaborative" research and development of safe and efficient emerging transport technology -- the NSW government in August last year partnered with HMI Technologies, NRMA, Telstra, IAG, and the Sydney Olympic Park Authority to conduct a two-year trial of the shuttle. Legislation was passed alongside the formation of the hub to approve trials of automated vehicles. The hub has since added the University of Technology Sydney, to enable the NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight. The legislation allows government to partner with industry, researchers, and universities to be a testing ground for automated vehicles, with the trial touted as bringing driverless cars a step closer to reality in Australia.


La Trobe University completes driverless Autonobus trial

ZDNet

Melbourne's La Trobe University has detailed findings of what it called successful on-campus trials of Navya's driverless "Autonobus" shuttle, which uses 360-degree cameras and sensor systems to detect objects and runs a set route based on map coordinates. A report on the trial by La Trobe and its project partners includes a number of recommendations, including further trials of the technology; considering autonomous vehicles in future infrastructure planning and investment decisions; and education and engagement of communities on autonomous vehicles. The Autonobus -- which drove students around La Trobe's Bundoora campus as part of a trial until July -- passed every test it went through, including safety, technical, operational, and passenger testing on a pre-programmed route, and interacting with pedestrians, cars, buses, and cyclists, according to Dean Zabrieszach, CEO of project partner HMI Technologies. "No other trial in Australia has tested an autonomous vehicle of this type in such a dense urban location," Zabrieszach said. "We have demonstrated that it can be done safely, without incident, and in compliance with road safety laws."