Labor to spend $3 million to establish National Centre of AI Excellence if elected

- July 31, 2018 2 MIN READ

Labor will put $3 million towards the development of a National Centre of AI Excellence if elected, with Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy Ed Husic yesterday saying Australia “can’t stumble or scramble our way to success” on artificial intelligence.

Speaking at the AFR Innovation Summit in Sydney, Husic said the Centre will include, among other things, an AI Lab, which will be tasked with championing the development of “ethical AI” and an AI accelerator for industry.

At its core, however, the goal of the centre will be to provide a unified direction for AI development, with Husic adding that the Centre would encourage all levels of government to think about AI and its use in improving policy and decision making.

“At the moment we run the risk we develop and apply AI within a limited frame of view, where benefit accrues commercially. Yet a breadth of vision is what is needed most – to ensure many gain from the way we use AI, and that we prepare well in advance for impact and transition,” Husic said.

“At a time where the narrative of the day levers off division and dispute, we think the Centre provides the perfect ground to think and act together for broader benefit.”

The Centre would also, Husic said, advance the generation of new jobs and think deeply about how to help people manage the impact of technology on the world of work.

With this in mind, Husic said that while the debate around automation tends to lean towards “the negative and fear”, he believes both sides of the political spectrum can work together on this issue.

“Our current public climate is dominated by division, yet on this issue – the impact of tech in our workplaces, in our personal lives, in broader society – we have the chance to work together,” he said.

“And this is ground on which our side of politics works best – drawing together different viewpoints and different players from different backgrounds and putting them to work.”

The government committed funding towards AI in its May Budget, allocating $30 million over four years to support development in AI and machine learning,

Additional funding was also allocated to the Cooperative Research Centres Program to support projects focused on these areas, funding for PhD scholarships focused on AI and ML and school programs to address skills gaps, and the development of a tech roadmap, standards framework, and a national ‘AI ethics framework’ to “identify global opportunities and guide future investments”.