Productivity Commission Report on AI highlights the need for investment in digital infrastructure and skills

2 February 2024

The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) has welcomed today’s release of the Productivity Commission Report, Making the most of the AI opportunity.  

ATSE agrees with the report’s finding that Australia has the potential to be a world leader in AI, with adoption possibly boosting productivity for 90% of the workforce and filling vital skills gaps and labour shortages.  

To tap into this potential, the Australian Government should take a leadership role in AI and make immediate investment in Australia’s AI capacity. This investment is essential to building the digital literacy and skills of Australian workers,  developing Australia’s digital infrastructure, and preparing the Australia’s future STEM workforce. 

ATSE CEO, Kylie Walker, says that investment is needed in innovation across the board. 

“Investment into research and development (R&D) is at record lows – just 1.68% of GDP. If Australia wants to take its place as a leader in AI innovation, we need to meet our international partners who are spending around 3% of their GDP on R&D,” she said. 

“It’s also crucial that we invest in the education and career pathways initiatives that will equip the workforce of today and of the future to critically and meaningfully engage with rapidly evolving technologies, and put them to their best use.” 

However, the Productivity Commission’s report further suggests that regulatory measures should be held off until harms are better understood and other nations have developed their own frameworks.  

ATSE CEO, Kylie Walker, says that action is needed now to solidify Australia’s role in the development of responsible AI.  

“Technology is only as good as its users, and potential risks of misusing AI systems are already emerging. The establishment of the expert advisory group is a good start in building appropriate boundaries for this technology and in building trust in the AI systems that are already vital to our way of life: the Australian Government needs to act now to bring in appropriate and responsible guard rails for high-risk AI systems .” 

The importance of responsible artificial intelligence and the opportunities this presents to Australia is further outlined in ATSE’s recent report with the Australian Institute for Machine Learning.  

“We commend the government for taking the lead in AI risk management through its ongoing safe and responsible AI consultations. ATSE stands ready to work with the government to ensure that Australia has a well-balanced regulatory framework for AI – balancing the innovation with mitigating the risk of harm.” 


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Alexandra Horvat, Communications Manager | | 0458 892 825 

For more information: 

ATSE’s Responsible AI report: