Managing risk vital to harnessing AI potential

17 November 2023

Watch the seminar

Artificial intelligence systems can clone a human voice from just a three second sample.

‘So for example, they call and you have a missed call and you say ‘hello, who’s there’, and then that's enough for them to do it,’ Professor Dinh Phung told a recent Parliamentary Library seminar. 

While Professor Phung said that was ‘scary’, the responsible use of artificial intelligence (AI) also has a bright side with a wide range of useful applications including for monitoring mental health and suicide prevention, as well as for locating missing children. 

Professor Phung, Research Director, Department of Data Science and AI at Monash University appeared alongside Professor Joanna Batstone, the Inaugural Director, Monash Data Futures Institute for the seminar on AI and Biometrics: Harnessing Potential, Managing Risks. 

Biometrics are widely employed in various sectors, from border control to activating smart phones. These applications primarily rely on biological traits like fingerprints and faces, but also extend to hand veins, irises, and voices.  

However, their security features make them appealing to potential attackers. While AI and data science offer promise, there are concerns about amplifying societal biases and inequalities. 

The seminar heard that governments around the world are busy exploring how to regulate AI and technology companies are also restricting the technology's use in areas where it could be abused. 

‘In about 2018 most of the major tech companies actually came up with bans on using facial recognition algorithms for use in police surveillance operations. It was viewed as a use case that was too risky,’ Professor Joanna Batstone told the seminar. 

The seminar addressed questions of public apprehensions of biometrics and AI, and some of the safeguards being developed to prevent abuse of the technology. The speakers also addressed the technology’s potential use in accelerating innovations across society, including in policing and in providing banking to millions of people who are currently excluded from financial services.

The entire event is available to watch on our YouTube channel.