Tom Burton: fake news and Canberra’s alternative reality

14 Mar 2017

The challenge of what to do about fake news reveals a paucity of policy and regulatory smarts across the wider digital economy.

The widespread debate about fake news and what to do about it exposes a large gap in Australia’s regulatory and policy machinery, and points to a broader issue around the lack of concentrated and deep digital policy and technical capability in the Australian government.

In front of the government there are major national policy questions around data integrity, sovereignty and ownership, privacy and security, algorithmic oversight and a dozen challenging issues ranging from fake news, tax and custom collection, cyber-bullying and digital identity. Each are complex challenges in their own right, but come to a government where there are precious few expert skills and experience in systems, technical execution or the marketplace to guide policy.

And that is just today’s issues. Coming like a fast train is cognitive computing and the whole artificial intelligence phenomenon, intelligent bots, nano and quantum computing, and just as we grapple with fake news, the arrival of augmented reality and everything that goes with it.

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