Labor has warned against Australia relying only on commercial development of artificial intelligence, proposing a new centre of excellence to promote research and industry acceleration.
Seeking to capitalise on productivity gains that have been estimated as up to $2.2 trillion from increased automation and reduced manual work, Labor would follow national investments in AI research from countries including France and China to create a dedicated not-for-profit research facility.
With the backing of Liesl Yearsley, chief executive of Sydney and Silicon Valley-based company Akin, and corporate venture fund Reinventure, opposition spokesman for digital economy Ed Husic will use a speech to The Australian Financial Review Innovation Summit on Monday to pledge $3 million for the new institution if Labor wins the next federal election.
The new centre would bring together work by state and territory governments with a newly established advisory group and industry accelerator to guide broader application of the technology for public and commercial benefits.
The Coalition’s May budget included $29.9 million for development of the artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities of Australian businesses and workers, including a national ethics framework to address standards and codes of conduct.
Mr Husic will tell the summit Australia could become a leading force in the development of ethical AI through better collaboration between governments, universities and industry.
“It will advance the generation of new jobs and think deeply about how to help people manage the impact of technology on the world of work,” Mr Husic said. “It will encourage all levels of government to think about the evolution of AI and plan for its use to improve policy and decision making.
“It will band together the thinking and effort currently dedicated to AI development and application in different parts of the country and help provide unified direction.
“It will think about the collaboration we can strike up with ASEAN neighbours thinking deeply about how technology will affect their economies.”
Labor has secured support for the announcement from Ms Yearsley, whose company is conducting intensive research and development into the application of neuroscience into AI platforms.
Reinventure has committed to working with Akin to support the industry accelerator within the new centre.
The fund has previously helped in the establishment and operation of other local accelerators, including fintech start-up accelerator Stone & Chalk.
Mr Husic will tell the event in Sydney that in government Labor would seek to work with industry players to find agreement on how the funding can best be used to support research, advice and acceleration.
“What Labor has successfully done in the past, we seek to do again in a new time,” he said.
“Drawing on the talents of those from different backgrounds: business, unions, education, the civic. Bringing them together with common purpose, thinking and acting on common ground.”
He said Australia runs the risk of developing and applying AI too narrowly, where benefits only accrue commercially.
“Yet a breadth of vision should apply – to ensure many gain from the way we use AI, and that we prepare well in advance for impact and transition,” Mr Husic said.