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Delivering the benefits of AI to all Australians

AI-powered solutions can help overcome some of our nation’s greatest challenges. The CSIRO’s Data61 outlined how AI can help lower energy costs, improve health outcomes and protect our environment (Hajkowicz et al. 2019). New measures in this action plan will help to unlock these opportunities.

We have strong foundations to support our AI ambition. Australia possesses world-leading capabilities in AI research. As shown on Figure 3, Australian AI publications are being cited more than the world average. We can leverage our world-leading capabilities to build competitive advantage. The CSIRO’s Data61 enables collaboration between a global network of partners in government, industry and academia with an applied R&D focus in data science and engineering.

The Australian Government is committed to supporting a respected and coordinated AI ecosystem. One that can translate Australia’s capabilities and strengths into real-world solutions and create new opportunities for commercialisation and export (Industry Innovation and Science Australia 2021). Australia is already a leader in AI research, placing third in the world (following Singapore and Hong Kong, respectively) according to peer-reviewed AI publications, when citation impact is field-weighted (Figure 3; Zhang et al. 2021:24). A coordinated AI system will help Australia realise this competitive advantage, and turn that into commercial ideas, economic growth, jobs, and a better world.

Figure 2: Comparison of AI publications citations by country

Figure 2 is a scatter diagram that plots the number of academic-corporate peer-reviewed AI publications (in log scale) of different countries against the peer reviewed AI publications Field-Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI). Several countries are included in the graph. Singapore’s plot point is highest vertically in the graph while Hong Kong is second and Australia’s plot point is third highest.

Note: A Field-Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI) greater than one shows that publications have been cited more than the world average for similar publications and provides a useful way to determine the prestige and quality of a researcher’s citation performance.

Source: Zhang et al. (2021:24), used with permission


AI direct measures

The Australian Government will provide $33.7 million to establish the AI Solutions to Build a Stronger Australia program. This program will work in partnership with industry to leverage private expertise to solve national challenges. We will jointly develop and deploy AI-enabled solutions to address economic, health, social, infrastructure and environmental challenges of national scale.

The CSIRO’s Machine Learning and AI Future Science Platform is exploring questions such as how we can provide explainable AI for decision-making to protect the Great Barrier Reef. The Future Science Platforms are an investment in frontier science that underpin innovation with the potential to help reinvent and create new industries for Australia. These multidisciplinary investments are turning challenges into opportunities where innovative science and technology is breaking through seemingly impossible problems to improve Australia’s prosperity and sustainability.

The Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) is a long-term investment supporting Australian health and medical research. The MRFF aims to transform health and medical research and innovation to improve lives, build the economy and contribute to health system sustainability. Through the MRFF, the Australian Government awarded $19 million in transformative medical research projects using AI. This included projects using AI to:

  • improve mental health treatments for Australians
  • understand and optimise treatments for stress, anxiety and depression
  • understand the vital interventions or components of therapies and why they are effective for some patients and not others.

Invest in Defence AI – The Department of Defence is coordinating research and investment in AI capabilities to strengthen capability across the information and cyber, maritime, air, space and land domains. This includes a $10 million initiative to support Australian industry to develop AI applications for intelligence mission data, and virtual reality and graphics applications.

Driving the growth of technology and digital skills

The National Digital Health Strategy sets the direction for the digital health system. It supports national coordination, investment and collaboration in national health information and systems development. The aim of the strategy is to achieve better health for all Australians. This will be enabled by seamless, safe, secure digital health services and technologies that provide a range of innovative, easy to use tools for both patients and providers.

The Business Research and Innovation Initiative (BRII) aims to drive innovation that addresses Australian Government policy and service delivery challenges, with the help of startups and SMEs. The BRII challenges are set by different government agencies and have covered topics ranging across biosecurity, child protection, water markets and policy design.

Foundational policy settings

The Digital Atlas of Australia will bring together crucial datasets, allowing us to draw unique insights into the Australian economy. By combining a range of sources including infrastructure, environment, health and employment datasets, this national platform will facilitate new, detailed analyses of Australia’s demographics.

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