Why it’s important for Australia to build sovereign capacity in AI

Artificial intelligence is already pervasive in our lives and will be essential to our future prosperity. In Australia, the Prime Minister and Cabinet Department has identified AI and machine learning as critical technologies of national interest. The applications of AI are broad and span many sectors, including agriculture, education, energy, finance, healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, and telecommunications.

As a general-purpose technology, AI applications in these areas may also have implications for defense and security. Indeed, the Australian Defense Force’s ability to understand the operating environment, maneuver and project force will be transformed through advances in AI and human-machine partnerships, using dual-purpose and defense-specific AI applications.

Innovation in AI is accelerating, creating opportunities to grow the economy, solve tough problems, accelerate discovery and strengthen national security. It is valued that AI could represent more than $20 trillion for the global economy by 2030. This potential for transformative impact and the competitive advantages offered by AI are actively pursued around the world. More than 30 countries and regions had published AI strategies or similar documents as of December 2020; the world’s top universities are increasing their investment in AI education; and private investment in AI continues to grow. This continued expansion of AI activity will drive accelerated progress in the field.

With increasing global investment in AI, Australia will need to remain globally competitive in a world of growing AI capabilities and AI-enabled operations. For the defense, AI will be critical in achieving strategic objectives and maintaining a capable, agile and powerful defense force. Reflecting this importance and the need for increased autonomy, AI is among the new “sovereign industry capability priorities” critical to defence. A sovereign AI capability secures Australia’s participation in a key 21st century industry and underpins the defense organization’s future operational and training capabilities.

Australia has cutting-edge AI capabilities in universities, research organizations and industry. To grow from this base, we need to focus on AI and broader STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) initiatives to build the skilled workforce required by Australian industry. Building human capacity in AI will be essential, as demand already outstrips supply and the need for specialized AI skills is expected to increase significantly. For sovereign activities, including sensitive work supporting the country’s defense and security sector, the ability to bring in a skilled Australian AI workforce will be fundamental.

The capability of the Australian workforce will ensure that we can maintain an effective defense force and develop the capabilities needed to face and overcome the disruptions that AI will introduce to current methods of warfare. This will require sustained investment in professional training at all levels to increase managers’ understanding of AI and to further expand degrees and higher degrees in AI through research programs to attract and train specialists. Australian AI.

Increased research and technology development, supported by long-term, sustained investments in data, tools, and critical digital infrastructure, will support our national AI competitiveness. Through sovereign investments in AI research and development, the benefits of AI will be fully exploited and potential risks mitigated. The investment should include creating access to sufficient computing capacity and the fast networking needed to obtain those capacities.

Additionally, data holdings should be established and managed to support the development of AI applications and tools, backed by appropriate access and privacy protections. Issues of safety, security and bias should be understood and actively researched to support and inform responsible AI practices and build trust in AI systems to build confidence in continued development of AI. This will require the development of AI systems that are aligned with Australian values ​​and are trusted partners across all AI applications. The continuous development of AI Standardsinvolving a wide range of stakeholders, will enable the widespread use of responsible AI and increase the competitiveness of Australian industry.

Through government leadership, a strong and vibrant AI ecosystem should be established to bring together partnerships with industry and academia to drive innovation, address national priorities and increase AI exports . This will ensure strong stakeholder engagement and dialogue to inform policy considerations and connect industry and academia to new business opportunities. Efforts are already being made in this direction. In the defense sector, this includes setting up the Defense Artificial Intelligence Research Network. DAIRNet will work to build a research community in Australia supporting Defence, bringing together multi-disciplinary teams to tackle large-scale AI challenges. Beyond research and innovation, sovereign capability involves the adoption and continuous upgrading of AI technologies to improve productivity, which requires industry engagement throughout the life cycle. life of AI products.

This article is an excerpt from a new report, Artificial intelligence: your questions answeredproduced by ASPI in conjunction with the Australian Machine Learning Institute at the University of Adelaide.

Leave a Comment