Debate on ethics in AI called by leading experts

  • By Kate Weber

Ahead of an artificial intelligence (AI) forum in February, business, academic, technology and government leaders are calling for a national debate on the ethics of artificial intelligence including a governing body to set standards and guidelines.

As the application of artificial intelligence grows so does the need for clear rules and ethical standards to ensure consumer protection and regulation, according to James Mabbott, national leader at KPMG Innovate.

Mabbott said discussions on the “very real concerns” in the community about AI must be addressed despite the impressive innovations.

“The opportunities and benefits presented by technologies like AI, big data and IOT at scale in industries such as banking health, transport, education, energy, and social services is unprecedented,

“It is important to recognise that questions about the ethics of the technology don’t just relate to its application and this is because we are talking about mass adoption that has the potential to touch many aspects of our lives.” Mabbott said.

AI adoption remains solid in banking

The debate comes at a pivotal time as banks continue to explore and create new technologies as they embrace change in the industry.


The Australian Payments Network (AusPayNet) recently shifted its focus to the impact of emerging technologies including the application of AI in the payments system.

Westpac is also joining in on the emerging AI industry and tackling technological solutions.


Last year the bank announced AI company Daisee as the winner of the fifth annual Westpac Innovation Challenge.

Daisee created and pitched a product called ‘Lisa’ which uses natural language processing to improve call centre compliance through an automated quality assurance scorecard, as well as other customer experience and performance insights and recommendations.

Teachers Mutual Bank is also introducing AI process automation through its back office as it aims to boost productivity and deliver cost savings.

The mutual bank believes such innovation could extend to chats bots plus front-line customer facing roles.

A team within their human resource department has been created to drive organisational change management.

Facebook is another example of AI and data being used to assist the company reshape its thinking.

The application of data and AI allowed Facebook to streamline posts and measures around engagement, the tracking of daily monthly active users and understanding how much its users were spending on content.

Regulations that will address the ethics around AI will be discussed at the forum which will pose questions regarding human right challenges, trust and if Australia needs a governing body for setting standards.


“Neither industry nor government can afford to wait for the other. The opportunity is there now and all sides have to work together so Australia can grab it with both hands.” Mabbott said.