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Australia Is Betting Big On Artificial Intelligence

Digital Economy Minister will address policy think tank to set out the government's artificial intelligence plan on July 27.

CANBERRA, Australia — Backpacks to track bees, bushfire modeling, and sensors to detect broken water pipes are some of the technologies being developed in Australia as part of an artificial intelligence boom.

Digital Economy Minister Jane Hume said artificial intelligence can improve the lives of all Australians.

Senator Hume will say at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia event on July 27 the government had two roles to play in terms of AI: an enabler and a standards setter, especially in terms of ethics.

Earlier this year, the government announced an AU$1.2 billion ($883.15 million) digital economic strategy, which included an additional AU$124 million ($91.25 million) commitment to the artificial intelligence initiatives.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization estimates artificial intelligence technology will contribute AU$22 trillion ($16.18 trillion) to the global economy by 2030.

“From a Government services perspective, AI can lead to improved modeling, better policies, programs, and outcomes for citizens,” the senator said.

Earlier this year the government announced an AU$1.2 billion digital economic strategies which included an additional AU$124 million commitment to the AI initiatives. (Joel Carrett/AAP Image)

“We do not want Australia to simply keep up; we want to lead and show others the way.”

The artificial intelligence action plan covers four areas: lifting the development and adoption of artificial intelligence to create jobs and boost productivity, growing and attracting world-class talent and expertise, solving national challenges, and ensuring artificial intelligence technologies are ethical.

“While we adopt and adapt to new technology, we must vigilantly protect our democratic values, our privacy rights, and our expectations of honesty, transparency, and accountability,” Hume said.

Australia established an Artificial Intelligence Ethics Framework to guide businesses and governments to responsibly develop, integrate and implement artificial intelligence. Part of the framework is an ethics code made of eight Artificial Intelligence Ethics Principles to make artificial intelligence fair, inclusive and reliable for everyone. These include a principle of transparency, respect for human privacy and security, and a principle for fairness and accessibility.

“With accelerating growth, we must lead in setting the right standards,” Hume said.

“We must ensure that AI is ethical, responsible, and inclusive.”

The federal government plans to set up a national artificial intelligence facility, a graduates program, a pool of funding for projects such as bushfire modeling, and a fund for regional projects, especially in agriculture and minerals.

The minister cited a number of projects already underway, including attaching micro-sensor backpacks to bees to understand the risks to their population and sensors to detect water pipe failures which could save millions of dollars in maintenance costs.

The global artificial intelligence (AI) software market is forecast to grow rapidly in the coming years, reaching around $126 billion by 2025, as per reports by Statista.

“The overall Artificial Intelligence market includes a wide array of applications such as natural language processing, robotic process automation, and machine learning,” states the report.

Edited by Saptak Datta and Krishna Kakani

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