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Australian Digital ID Progressing Well

Senator Katy Gallagher, who is the Minister for Finance, Minister for Women and Minister for Public Service, tried to sell digital ID to the population at the Australian Information Industry Association Luncheon on September 19 by going on about how wonderful the plan is.


The effort has been going on for about 8 years. More recently, for example, there have been trials for digital driver’s licenses at state levels.

Although a centralized system has obvious conveniences, there are obvious avenues of abuse. To be fair, since anything can be abused, that possibility on its own is not necessarily an argument.

But, given the circumstances, should one trust the government with any personal information? By the way, said personal information includes biometrics and the applications include access to services.

The system is supposed to be voluntary, of course… at least for now.

We have thought long and hard about the principles that should guide an Australian Digital ID system. And we believe it should be secure, convenient, voluntary, and inclusive. These four areas will guide the progress of the work before us.

I’d feel safer already if I’m Aussie.

But in case you don’t, it gets better: AI may be used.

Today my colleague Ed Husic and I announced that we have set up an AI Taskforce to help ensure government agencies can use AI in a safe and responsible way.

A taskforce! Rah!!!

Amongst other things, AI is expected to “empathize”:

…using artificial intelligence shouldn’t come at the expense of empathy. Design of services and use of technology needs to understand that we are dealing with individuals with their varying circumstances. While Robodebt didn’t use AI, it did use automated decision making and the lack of empathy in the application of this approach had disastrous consequences.

AI can be very smart, it can be trained to do many things, and even do it well. However, without going into a theological discussion, things like “empathy” (regardless of how one wants to define that) require discernment which requires God-given powers of the human soul: memory, intellect (or understanding) and will.

A machine lacks these powers. They can be built and programmed to imitate them, but they don’t have them and it is commonsense that to expect anything more is asking for trouble. AI can be a great tool, provided it is built well and good and competent people oversee it.

Good and competent people… right.


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