CSIRO - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation

11/18/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/17/2019 20:01

AI for health, infrastructure and natural resources key to Australia’s future prosperity

The Australian Government released its artificial intelligence (AI) technology roadmap, developed by CSIRO, Australia's national science agency, at Australia's inaugural AI summit Techtonic, in Canberra on 15 November.

The roadmap, Artificial Intelligence: Solving problems, growing the economy and improving our quality of life, outlines the importance of action for Australia to capture the benefits of AI, estimated to be worth AU$22.17 trillion to the global economy by 2030.

The roadmap leverages the expertise of CSIRO's data science and digital arm, Data61, and was developed for the Australian Government in consultation with industry, government and academia.

It identifies strategies to help develop a national AI capability to boost the productivity of Australian industry, create jobs and economic growth, and improve the quality of life for current and future generations.

Dr Stefan Hajkowicz, senior research scientist at CSIRO's Data61 and lead author of the roadmap said the key to Australia's AI-enabled future is through technological specialisation, creating targeted areas of AI capability to gain a comparative advantage in the global marketplace.

'The three AI specialisations we've identified are based on the opportunity to solve significant problems at home, export the solutions to the world and build on Australia's existing strengths,' Dr Hajkowicz said.

Australia's three possible AI specialisations:

  • Health, ageing and disability. AI for health, ageing and disability support can reduce costs, improve wellbeing and make quality care accessible for all Australians.
  • Cities, towns and infrastructure. AI for better towns, cities and infrastructure can improve the safety, efficiency, cost-effectiveness and quality of the built environment.
  • Natural resources and environment. AI for enhanced natural resource management can reduce the costs and improve the productivity of agriculture, mining, fisheries, forestry and environmental management.

CSIRO's Chief Executive, Dr Larry Marshall, said AI accelerated the pace and scale of solving the greatest challenges through innovative science and technology.

'AI represents a significant opportunity to deliver social, environmental and economic benefits. It can boost productivity through its strong potential to enable industry to make better products, deliver better services, faster, cheaper and safer,' Dr Marshall said.

'AI is central to our increasingly data-driven world and, when combined with other digital technologies, could grow Australia's economy by $315 billion if we coordinate our AI activities nationally to accelerate research and drive scale.'

AI technologies have already been used to restore sight to the vision impaired with a bionic eye and to model the spread of bushfires in real time to support firefighters in their tactical response.

Dr Hajkowicz said that Australia needs to act now to get the full benefits of AI by 2030 and beyond.

'AI will create more jobs than it will displace, but we'll need to transition and upskill the existing workforce. We also need to build trust in AI and ensure it's developed to safe and ethical standards.

'AI is data hungry, so we need to improve access to data and also address increasing cybersecurity privacy concerns. Greater investment in applied research and development will underpin these foundations and help us shape an AI-enabled future for the benefit of all Australians,' Dr Hajkowicz said.

In November 2018, CSIRO announced an AU$19 million Future Science Platform on AI and machine learning to target AI-driven solutions for areas including food security and quality, health and wellbeing, sustainable energy and resources, resilient and valuable environments, and Australian and regional security.

The roadmap is intended to help guide future investment in AI and machine learning, and accompanies Artificial Intelligence: Australia's Ethics Framework, a discussion paper prepared by CSIRO's Data61 and published by the Australian Government in April 2019.

The AI Roadmap can be downloaded at www.data61.csiro.au/airoadmap