Australia at Artificial Intelligence (AI) inflection point, report finds
Australia is at a crossroads with developing AI technologies, with the potential to become a leader or laggard in technical and regulatory innovation.
In a new report by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) and the University of Adelaide’s Australian Institute for Machine Learning (AIML), 13 of Australia’s top AI experts find that AI has the potential to augment, simplify and improve the way we live our lives.
However, to reach that point the nation urgently needs to build social license and public understanding, as well as spearhead new AI research and development activity to ensure AI technology is responsibly deployed and regulated.
Responsible AI: Your questions answered provides essential guidance to aid the development of AI technologies in Australia.
The current AI moment the world is experiencing is a golden opportunity for Australia to invest in its people and its technology, said ATSE CEO Kylie Walker.
“Our strong institutions, innovation ecosystem, effective governance and high rate of technology adoption position Australia to lead the world in the development of Responsible AI.
“The authors in this report are unanimous. Australia needs to invest in AI research and coordination between academia and industry to foster a culture of research, innovation and risk-taking.
“This culture of innovation needs to be backed by a laser focus on the science and technology skills we urgently need in the Australian workforce.
“Support for STEM education and teacher development are fundamental to create literacy about AI impacts and how it works across the wider community,” said Kylie Walker.
Professor Simon Lucey, director of the Australian Institute for Machine Learning (AIML), said that Australia should aim to be at the forefront of Responsible AI creation, but that industry needed to prioritise AI-enabled innovation to do so.
“Our key industry sectors are at crucial juncture where embracing AI is no longer just an option, but a necessity. That means being AI creators, not just AI users,” Professor Lucey said.
“AI capability is really centred around talented people, so Australia’s university sector has a leading role to play here. AI’s rapid growth means we need to ramp up to meet demand, but we also need new kinds of university-industry partnerships for the future.
The essay collection contributes independent analysis to the national AI conversation following the government’s efforts to outline appropriate safeguards. In March 2023, ATSE helped deliver a Rapid Response Information Report on Generative AI for the National Science and Technology Council, to outline risk and opportunities.
Australia also recently signed the Bletchley Declaration on AI safety alongside 27 other countries and the European Union.
Published during National AI Month, the Responsible AI collection of essays makes clear that AI can help us solve big national problems in new ways.
Managing and mitigating well-known risks to data and information, decision-making and workforces will allow Australia to implement the significant benefits of AI. Education, discovery, collaboration, governance and diversification will all be key to delivering on the promise and potential of this new technology.
This collection of short papers developed by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) and the Australian Institute for Machine Learning (AIML) at The University of Adelaide offers an insight into the world of responsible artificial intelligence and the opportunities this presents for Australia. Read Responsible AI: Your questions answered, and the Report Summary.
Each essay and the Foreword can also be downloaded individually as a PDF by clicking the links below.
Elanor Huntington FTSE — ATSE Board Member; Executive Director, Digital, National Facilities & Collections, CSIRO
SECTION 1: INTRODUCTION
What is responsible AI anyway?
Professor Jon Whittle — Director, CSIRO’s Data61
10 examples of AI that are here now and have been embraced by the general public
Stela Solar — Director, National Artificial Intelligence Centre
SECTION 2: WHAT DO WE NEED TO BE TALKING ABOUT?
A unique opportunity for Australia: bridging the divide between fundamental AI research and usable, embodied AI
Professor Michael Milford FTSE — ARC Laureate Fellow, Joint Director QUT Centre for Robotics
Responsible AI means keeping humans in the loop: what are other social implications of the mainstream adoption of this technology.
Associate Professor Carolyn Semmler – School of Psychology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, The University of Adelaide Lana Tikhomirov — Australian Institute for Machine Learning (AIML), The University of Adelaide
AI is changing the way people work: how do we skill our future workforce to ensure these new jobs stay on shore?
Professor Katrina Falkner FTSE — Executive Dean of the Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology,The University of Adelaide
Responsible data management: a precursor to responsible AI
Dr Rocky Chen, Associate Professor Gianluca Demartini, Professor Guido Zuccon, and Professor Shazia Sadiq FTSE — School of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, The University of Queensland
Open the pod bay doors please, HAL
Andrew Dettmer — National President, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union
Innovation needs to create value: how do we tool universities to remain relevant to industry needs?
Professor Simon Lucey — Director, Australian Institute for Machine Learning, The University of Adelaide
An AI-literate community will be essential for the continuity of social democracy.
Kylie Walker — Chief Executive Officer, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
SECTION 3: WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS?
What are the limits of current AI, and what opportunities does this create for Australian research?
Professor Anton van den Hengel FTSE — Director, Centre for Augmented Reasoning, Australian Institute for Machine Learning, The University of Adelaide
Australia’s unfair advantage in the new global wave of AI innovation.
Professor Mary-Anne Williams FTSE — Michael J Crouch, Chair for Innovation, UNSW Business School
The $1 billion dollar question: What should Australia’s responsible AI future look like?
Kingston AI Group
Contributors to this article: Professor Joanna Batstone FTSE, Professor Stephen Gould, Professor Anton van den Hengel FTSE, Adjunct Professor Sue Keay FTSE, Professor Dana Kulić, Professor Jie Lu, Professor Simon Lucey, Professor Michael Milford FTSE. Professor Ben Rubinstein, Professor Svetha Venkatesh FTSE, Professor Toby Walsh
What are we doing now to ensure that Australia is recognised as a global leader in responsible AI, and what else should we be doing now and into the future?
Dr Ian Opperman FTSE — NSW Government’s Chief Data Scientist, Department of Customer Service