The ACS Technical Advisory Board and its committees tackle the nation’s top technology challenges with a global outlook for making Australia a world-leading knowledge economy through the development of its Artificial Intelligence capabilities.

For the past two years, the Federal government has commissioned various reports to look at the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as an enabler to solving major challenges in the national context.

We have also seen the commissioning of a framework for AI Ethics, which contains non-binding principles for business to utilise responsible AI.

The NSW government held its AI Summit last year to formulate a comprehensive and beneficial AI strategy for the state.

And in Queensland, the State government via its Advance Queensland initiative, launched an AI Hub to develop and attract the best AI talent.

However, despite these commendable initiatives, a concrete national position on AI that speaks to the real issues for engaging our industries, leveraging our world-class research and building our economic prosperity, still eludes Australia.

A national agenda for artificial intelligence

As we enter the 4th Industrial Revolution, AI will be the essence that binds all the technology elements to drive business and innovation for a promising digital future.

Australia is a world-leading OECD economy in the creation of high-value AI (machine learning) R&D, estimated to be a $US15.7 trillion economy by 2030.

However, Australia has been unable to develop a successful artificial intelligence economy from its local R&D strengths, as Australia’s ability to convert this high-value R&D into commercial outcomes is poor, with Australia ranked 88 out of 129 countries for knowledge diffusion (business translation).

Australia is one of the few global economies that can benefit from the adoption of AI services and automation for productivity gains, as we have high-minimum wages, a large geographic area and limited skilled workers in regional and metro communities.

Nevertheless, all efforts to date to try and address the evolving nature of AI at a national level have not been successful in mapping out a practical way to harness its opportunities, including to translate and export these high-value assets.

Whilst governments overseas invest billions of dollars in AI to develop a concrete plan for the future, Australia has decided to put up a more modest investment.

Therefore, organisations such as ACS need to drive a step change to enable Australia to be a top 10 global innovation economy.

Australia has top talent and research, a stable and strong economy and is a trusted partner in the Asian market.

Supporting Australia’s AI economy requires governments, industry and research organisations to do things differently, and set up the digital tools for businesses to scale and grow to be globally competitive.

Governments have traditionally supported mining, agriculture and construction, but have not focused on supporting business to compete in the new knowledge economy through a similar model.

Hence, there needs to be a way that they revise their support for innovation, because the pace of change is too rapid.

Innovation economies around the world are emerging, and those countries that manage the transition to the innovation economy will achieve greater socio-economic benefit.

To be at the forefront of the AI curve, Australia needs to position itself to not only consume, regulate, evaluate or certify AI, but actually develop new-to-world, ‘Deep Tech’ solutions, which can be exported globally.

In Australia we have one of the largest per capita concentrations of cutting-edge research in the world.

However, as a country, we have the worst record of translation of this research into commercial outcomes.

Given the tremendous IP that exists within our Universities and research institutes, we must devise a National plan to harness Australia’s potential.

Despite numerous guidelines, reports and proposals, we now need to formulate a concrete national plan, which considers the practical implementation of AI to grow Australian businesses and provide pragmatic guidance pertaining to AI’s responsible use to grow the economy and create jobs.

Thus in 2020, the ACS Technical Advisory Board (TAB) will take on the challenge to build on the largely theoretical conversations about AI and work towards developing a national AI agenda which will include:

· A roadmap for creating home-grown AI innovations to be competitive in the global landscape

· A guide for practical implementation of AI within Australian businesses

· A plan for leveraging Australian R&D capability to support startups and SMEs with their AI requirements

With the AI vision at the heart of the ACS TAB’s strategy for 2020 and beyond, ACS will enable the implementation of one of the Nation’s most challenging and important initiatives of the new decade.