Leading the way in AI

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Friday, 30 July, 2021

Leading the way in AI

The federal government’s $124 million commitment to AI initiatives as part of the Digital Economy Strategy is aimed at improving the lives and experiences of all Australians, according to Minister for Services and the Digital Economy Senator Jane Hume.

During an address to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, Hume said AI has the potential to improve government services by enhancing evidence-based decision-making, leading to better outcomes for citizens.

“AI truly has the capacity to improve the lives and experiences of all Australians across the board. And while society will benefit from AI, the private sector will profit from AI and academia will advance new technologies and use cases, the Government has a significant responsibility too,” Hume said.

“To ensure that AI — as an industry as well as a technology — has every chance to flourish, making sure we have the right settings, skills and expertise in place to ensure Australia is a global forerunner.”

The federal government’s AI Action Plan will focus on four pillars, including lifting the development and adoption of AI to create jobs and improve productivity.

The plan will also aim to grow and attract world-class AI talent, harness AI capabilities to solve national challenges, and ensure AI technologies are responsible, inclusive and reflect Australian values.

“We want to connect researchers with industry and talent to increase business adoption of AI technologies — achieving increased productivity and revenue gains. Which is why the government is investing $53.8 million to create a National AI Centre and four Digital Capability Centres,” she said.

The action plan also includes $24.7 million allocated for co-funding the Next Generation of AI Graduates Program, $33.7 million for AI-based solutions to solve national challenges, and $12 million to create AI solutions to solve challenges specific to regional Australia.

To ensure AI is ethical, responsive and inclusive, the action plan also seeks to implement the eight Australian AI Ethics Principles.

This will seek to ensure AI systems respect human rights including privacy and autonomy, that AI is used transparently, and that there is human oversight behind AI-driven decisions, Hume said.

“We want to maximise the opportunities that AI presents to us — to improve our daily lives. But equally we do not want to subsume the intangible but fundamental things that make our human lives rich today with the technology to make life easier,” she said.

According to Hume, the $124 million commitment will bring the total amount the federal government will have invested in AI since 2018 to nearly half a billion dollars.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/peshkova

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