Closer to the Machine: Free AI e-book

The Office of the Victorian Information Commissioner has published a new e-book analysing the field of artificial intelligence (AI). The e-book brings together eight experts from different disciplines to explore the technical, social and legal aspects of AI, particularly in a public sector context.

The public sector is increasingly turning to AI technologies to carry out its functions, develop and inform policy and deliver services to its citizens.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a key focus for OVIC over the last two years, given its growing prominence within the public sector and the broader community and the implications for privacy and other human rights.

Some of the key themes explored in the book include:

  • It is debatable if all the ways in which AI can be used are ‘good’. Predictive policing, jail sentencing and welfare distribution are all things that we can delegate to AI, but what are the implications of doing this?
  • AI systems make decisions based on statistical predictions from algorithms that are usually complex to the point of being incomprehensible to humans. This is a critical issue for government use of AI – government is expected to be transparent, and if the rationale behind an AI decision cannot be explained, that decision can hardly be described as transparent.
  • The information that is used to power AI generally comes from the real world, but that information reflects the unavoidable biases and imperfections that come with real people. AI systems, and all the decisions and predictions made by them are influenced by the unavoidable bias that is in all data. Making unbiased and fair AI is as hard as making unbiased and fair people.

Co-authors of Closer to the Machine include Professor Toby Walsh (University of New South Wales and CSIRO’s Data61), Professor Richard Nock (Australian National University and CSIRO’s Data61), Associate Professor Ben Rubinstein (University of Melbourne), Katie Miller (International Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission), Professor Margaret Jackson (RMIT), Dr Jake Goldenfein (Cornell Tech, Cornell University), Professor Fang Chen (University of Technology Sydney) and Dr Jianlong Zhou (University of Technology Sydney).

Read or download your free copy of Closer to the machine here.