Business Maverick

Business Maverick

Australian regulators tout AI as key tool to protect consumers

Australian regulators tout AI as key tool to protect consumers
The OpenAI website ChatGPT pictured on a laptop in the Brooklyn borough of New York, US, on 12 January 2023. (Photo: Gabby Jones / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Australian regulators are exploring ways that artificial intelligence can aid efforts to police markets and the wider finance industry.

That’s according to a slew of senior executives who spoke on Wednesday at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission annual conference in Melbourne. The chief of the country’s markets watchdog said it’s looking at a pilot project where the technology allows submission documents — often thousands of words long — to be read far faster than is possible by humans.

“I see lots of benefits,” said ASIC Chair Joe Longo. “But, I do worry that this technology is going to cause a lot of harm if we’re not careful,” he said, adding the pilot was designed to help staff at the regulator save time. 

Businesses and regulators around the world are grappling with opportunities and risks emanating from the swift pace of change for the emerging technology. Heads of Australia’s three main watch dogs across banking and financial markets discussed on Wednesday how they were managing the tech, citing ways they were using it, and highlighting what to watch out for.  

For Gina Cass-Gottlieb, chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, AI has the potential to help detect some anti-competitive conduct. 

“We have started to use data and in effect algorithms across the data to detect behavior that looks different structurally and behaviorally in sectors of the economy, to then focus there in terms of potential cartel behavior,” she said. 

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority said businesses should be cautious using AI and ensure appropriate high standards of risk management. 

“We’re saying to regulated entities, if you use it, make sure you’ve got the risks covered,” APRA Chair John Lonsdale said at the conference. “Make sure you understand what the risks are and make sure you’ve got the appropriate controls.”

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