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Westpac among founder members of AI consortium

Westpac among founder members of AI consortium

Westpac has joined with five other organisations to form a new consortium to drive leading-edge research into responsible adoption of artificial intelligence in the finance sector.

The FinTech AI Innovation Consortium, spearheaded by leading AI academics at the University of NSW’s faculties of Engineering and Business, brings together founding industry partners Westpac, Amazon Web Services, Databricks, BrewAI and Cognitivo Consulting.

“The aim of the consortium is to take AI out of the lab and into practice,” says Professor Fethi Rabhi of UNSW’s School of Computer Science and Engineering. “It's almost like a one stop shop for the industry - for businesses who know they want to use AI and have problems to solve, and we will work to solve those problems.”

Rabhi says PhD students specialising in AI had been recruited to tackle the “problems” brought by the consortium industry partners.

David Walker, group chief technology officer at Westpac which has made an initial investment of $230,000 over three years to fund PhD students as part of the consortium, says the work of the alliance would be ground-breaking in helping to accelerate and scale the next generation of AI for the finance sector.

“There are a lot of AI capabilities that we're really holding back until we’re confident we can let it go,” Walker said during a session at TechX, Westpac’s internal five-day technology convention.

“Currently all of the artificial intelligence applications across Westpac are ‘supervised’, but ‘unsupervised’ AI is advancing at pace. We need to understand how we put the guardrails, the controls in place to make sure that any AI is acting in a responsible, ethical way, that it's fair and there's no bias built into it.

“One of our first goals, for example, is to help organisations measure their transition to Net-Zero by developing quantitative tools and AI models that can offer more accurate and sector-specific carbon accounting estimations.”

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