Our vision is to establish Australia as a global leader in developing and adopting trusted, secure and responsible AI.
Artificial intelligence is having an impact on how we work, live and play. AI technologies already enable our phones and power our online searches. Farmers use AI solutions to inform how to tend to their crops. Small businesses use AI to better understand their customers. Builders use it to monitor compliance. AI helps us to screen for cancer, detect COVID19 and treat anxiety disorders. On a national level, AI is keeping us safe and secure by helping counter national security threats.
This is just the beginning. We’re in the early stages of a major technological transformation. If Australia captures the benefits of this transformation, the opportunities are immense. Innovations driven by digital technologies, including AI, could add up to $315 billion to our economy by 2028 (Alpha Beta 2018). AI will continue to bolster other digital technologies and elevate human knowledge and capability to new levels. New jobs can flow from this growth, with estimates that by 2034, there could be 1.2 million new technology jobs realised (Faethm 2020:11).
Australia is well placed to seize these opportunities and achieve our vision. Australia is already a leader in strategic fields of AI like computer vision, deep learning, field robotics, neural networks and machine learning. Globally, Australia is a leader in AI research with our academic publications having more impact in terms of frequency of citation than research from many other countries (Zhang et al. 2021). These strengths provide a solid foundation for an increasingly AI-enabled economy.
Australia also has the right whole-of-economy settings in place. We have the right foundations for growing our digital economy. Australia has a competitive, market driven economy with free and open trade, strong digital infrastructure and a pipeline of skills that creates the right environment for firms to adopt AI as more products come on to market.
This suite of policies provide support for business adoption of emerging technologies. These broader policies, whether specific or more structural, are supporting adoption of emerging technology like AI in Australia.
The new measures announced in the 2021–22 Budget and outlined in this Action Plan build on these existing policies by providing targeted assistance to specifically support the adoption and development of AI in Australia, to drive a range of desired outcomes.
The time for further action is now. We are not alone in recognising the enormous economic, scientific, social, and environmental benefits AI provides, with global investment in AI continuing to increase, and the pace of AI product development accelerating. To capture these benefits, the AI Action Plan will coordinate the efforts and focus of government, businesses, researchers and the community.
What is artificial intelligence (AI)?
AI is a collection of interrelated technologies that can be used to solve problems autonomously and perform tasks to achieve defined objectives. In some cases, it can do this without explicit guidance from a human being (Hajkowicz et al. 2019:15). AI is more than just the mathematical algorithms that enable a computer to learn from text, images or sounds. It is the ability for a computational system to sense its environment, learn, predict and take independent action to control virtual or physical infrastructure.