AUSTRALIA ON TRACK TO MISS OUR AI OPPORTUNITY

CLARE O’NEIL MP.
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8 months ago
AUSTRALIA ON TRACK TO MISS OUR AI OPPORTUNITY
CLARE O’NEIL MP
This Government’s approach to AI is symptomatic of the neglect, complacency and vague disinterest which has characterised their thinking and investment on innovation since they shoved Malcolm Turnbull out of office. 
 
According to a report from Data61 released today, digital technologies, including artificial intelligence, could be worth $315b to the Australian economy by 2028.
 
PWC estimates that AI will deliver $22.9 trillion to the global economy by 2030.
 
The Morrison Government thinks Australia’s share of this AI windfall will magically appear without any meaningful support or investment.
 
China is seeking to invest more than $30 billion in AI and related technologies. Stanford University has recommended the US government invest $120 billion in AI initiatives over the next decade. 
 
Other developed nations are also stepping up. France has committed $2.4 billion to AI over five years; the South Korean government has committed $2.7 billion. 
 
In Australia, the Morrison Government has committed to $29.9 million over four years. That is just 0.1% of what is being invested by China.
 
The Coalition’s abandonment of innovation is evidenced by a 19% decline in real terms of government funding for research and development since 2015-16.
 
Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg have been conspicuously absent on anything to do with innovation, which has clearly become a dirty word since Mr Turnbull was rolled.
 
Apart from research funding, Australia is also approaching a critical shortage of skilled workers to meet the demands of digital industry.
 
According to the Data 61 report, Australian industry will need up to 161,000 new specialist AI workers by 2030.
 
But we are not on track to meet that demand.
 
Last year, just 6,302 Australian domestic students completed undergraduate or postgraduate degrees in IT-related fields. On this trajectory, we’ll produce about 75,600 graduates by 2030 - a projected shortfall of around 85,000 qualified applicants for high-skill, high-paid jobs. 
 
In fact, the overall proportion of Australia’s population aged 20-64 with post-school qualifications in STEM areas has fallen over the past decade.
  
AI and digital technology presents a huge opportunity for Australia, but not without the funding, support and skills to capture that opportunity.
 
Under this Government, we are well and truly on track to be left behind by the digital revolution. 
 
Industry, Innovation and Science