Discussion paper

During 2020–21, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) completed research exploring how emerging technologies could benefit regulatory decision-making. This included what role, if any, emerging technologies may have for the sectors the ACMA regulates over the medium to long term.

This paper considers technology applications that include ‘natural language processing’ (NLP) as a central feature. NLP is a subset of artificial intelligence (AI) that analyses and processes text and speech.

This paper explores the use of NLP, some of the main use-cases from compliance, regulatory design and review processes, and monitoring and issue identification. The paper identifies the benefits and challenges of NLP and the areas where it is likely to offer the greatest benefit – in particular, where topics and risks need to be extracted from large amounts of data to inform regulatory activities. NLP provides further benefits by analysing regulatory instruments for outdated rules. However, NLP can raise challenges across several areas, including data handling and training and development, which need to be considered to ensure NLP applications perform as expected.

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