Thursday, 28 March 2019 11:18

Lack of proper R&D tax incentive holding back tech industry: AIIA Featured

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Ron Gauci: "AI has the potential to address a number of government service delivery challenges, especially in the social services sector." Ron Gauci: "AI has the potential to address a number of government service delivery challenges, especially in the social services sector." Supplied

The Australian Information Industry Association claims a lack of relevant local skills and an effective Research and Development Taxation Incentive (R&DTI) program is holding back the local ICT industry.

In a statement on Thursday, the AIIA said government, industry peers, educators and researchers should collaborate to maximise the opportunities presented by artificial intelligence products and services in Australia, and to ensure that solutions were available for some of the anticipated challenges.

The organisation claimed that through implementation of AI technologies, consumers could benefit from personalised products that met their individual needs, online product recommendations based on assessments of consumers’ buying patterns and product preferences, and improved customer service from more efficient digital supply chain networks.

AIIA chief executive Ron Gauci said if an effective R&DTI program were in place, it would create an environment that would encourage innovation, commercialisation and export of high-quality Australian AI products and services.

“The creation of a favourable business environment where Australian industries are empowered to innovate, develop and deploy AI solutions, and contribute to Australia’s overall productivity, is essential to Australia’s continued economic growth," he said.

“AI has the potential to address a number of government service delivery challenges, especially in the social services sector, such as service provision to an ageing population and the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

“In order to harness this potential, we need to focus on AI capability and skills development now and encourage innovation and commercialisation of AI products and services through an effective R&DTI program. Without this government support, Australia will struggle to develop globally competitive AI products and services.

“Furthermore, the government should carefully assess the suitability of existing regulatory frameworks on AI products and services before creating new regulations. The AIIA would like to see a principles-based approach adopted, rather than a regulatory approach - and be included in discussions on any proposed AI policy development activities."

Citing a symposium on AI and human rights held by the Australian Human Rights Commission recently, and its submission to the AHRC, the AIIA said government regulation in AI should be three-fold:

"Government should build upon and augment existing legal and ethical frameworks and oversight bodies to support the growth of the AI industry in Australia. This approach will mitigate the risk of over regulating which can have the effect of limiting both innovation and participation by all members of Australian society in developing, implementing and using AI products and services.

"Develop AI principles and standards that build upon existing industry experience. For example, through the Information Technology Industry Council, the technology industry has already aligned itself to leverage off a set of principles and policies to guide AI developments.

"There should be an integrated approach to encouraging the development of the necessary skills for AI in Australia, with some of the skills including ethics, policy, data analytics, change management and human-centred design."

The AIIA is hosting an event named AIIA Navigating Artificial Intelligence Summit on 6 June in Canberra to discuss these issues.

It will bring together AIIA members, global and local experts in AI from industry, government agencies, research institutes and start-ups, to explore the challenges, opportunities and potential pitfalls that an AI-aligned future may present.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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