Monday, 19 April 2021 17:10

AIIA urges Morrison Government to fully fund a National AI Strategy


The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) is calling on the Federal Government to allocate $250 million in the May budget to ensure Australia becomes a global leader in AI (artificial intelligence) research and commercialisation and doesn’t fall behind its international peers.

When the Government does announce its National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy it must come with significant funding over the $29.9 million it currently contributes over four years. The Australian Government commissioned the Artificial Intelligence: Solving problems, growing the economy and improving our quality of life, in November 2019 to assist its AI Roadmap which outlines the many opportunities and benefits available from investing in a National AI Strategy.

The AIIA is urging the Federal Government to support AI efforts, and focus on supporting R&D through to commercialisation of innovative products and services.

This will help to maximise the return for Australian businesses and boost the AI sector and ensure our traditional industries remain internationally competitive including in agriculture, finance, health and manufacturing.

AIIA CEO, Ron Gauci said: “Australia must prepare our economy for the coming decade. We are increasingly seeing ICT and AI at the heart of every industry. The Federal Government has the opportunity to show their commitment and invest in the Australian economy. The AIIA has provided feedback and advice on the proposed National AI Strategy, now is the time for the Federal Government to step up and commit their support.

“To fully fund and support the National AI Strategy, the Federal Government needs to provide funding of around $250 million over the next four years to ensure Australia doesn’t fall even further behind the rest of the world. This investment will provide an incredible return in the long term as AI and the ICT sectors continue to expand, growing the economy and providing jobs.

“Australia’s ongoing prosperity depends on its ability to innovate requiring leadership, clear policies and a national innovation strategy. As a nation, we have the opportunity to support our innovators and ensure Australia can retain ownership of our brilliant creations. The Federal government must support the commercialisation of our AI innovations and secure our economic independence for years to come.”

With Digital technologies, including AI, potentially worth AU$315 billion to the Australian economy by 2028 and 758,700 workers involved in the Australian ICT sector related to AI by 2023, the significant impact AI has on the Australian economy must be maximised.

“A national integrated approach will support Australia’s economic strengths in sectors such as agriculture, mining and health. ICT and AI is increasingly involved in every sector, the Federal Government must show their commitment to the National AI Strategy by committing funding towards this in the 2021 Federal Budget,” concluded Gauci.

The AIIA is a not-for-profit organisation aimed at fuelling Australia’s future social and economic prosperity through technology innovation, and recently released a white paper titled ‘Building Australia’s Digital Future in a Post-COVID World’, which emphasised the need to look beyond traditional infrastructure investment by government with more focus on technology infrastructure.

Artificial Intelligence: Solving problems, growing the economy and improving our quality of life’ was published by the Australian Government in November 2019, and co developed by CSIRO’s Data61 and the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. The report identifies strategies to help develop a national AI capability to boost the productivity of Australian industry, create jobs and economic growth, and improve the quality of life for current and future generations.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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