The NSW government has promised it will create “thousands” of new jobs for IT professionals, cyber security experts, data scientists and engineers as part of its first-ever AI strategy.

Announcing the new strategy on Friday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said it was a roadmap for the future.

“We know how important AI is and this strategy puts us at the forefront of this emerging space,” Berejiklian said.

“Science, technology, engineering and mathematics will play a pivotal role in shaping our state’s future economy and we cannot be spectators on the sidelines. We must lead and be the engine room for future jobs.”

The NSW government has been working on the strategy since last year and had originally planned to launch it in March.

Under the new strategy, the government will seek to build public trust, build data capability, improve public sector digital skills, update procurement frameworks and improve collaboration between industry and academia.

The government will look to build the maturity of the AI sector over the next 12 to 18 months, before again reviewing the strategy.

The government said it will measure the success of the strategy based on whether the services have delivered value and by gauging agency confidence in procuring and using AI solutions.

It follows the state government’s recent commitment to spend $1.6 billion on digital infrastructure as part of the Digital Restart Fund.

The new AI strategy is secured by the $240 million government investment into cyber security, which was delivered as part of the Digital Restart Fund.

Building capability and trust

Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said the strategy would be created “within the prism of ethics”.

“Whether it’s at home, online, on the road or at the supermarket, the use of AI is becoming more prevalent in day-to-day life and is often deployed in subtle ways to make customer interactions and services more seamless.”

The strategy builds on existing government AI projects, including NSW Health’s use of AI to detect sepsis and Transport for NSW using AI-powered road cameras to detect drivers using their phone while driving.

According to the strategy, it is the responsibility of the government to build the public’s trust in future projects.

After consulting stakeholders, the NSW government said it found there is a low level of awareness of what AI is and a growing desire for “explainability” around AI solutions.

To address this, the government has created an AI User Guide, which provides agencies with clear guidelines on how to use AI solutions safely and securely.

“The [AI User] Guide sends a strong message that NSW Government use of AI will always put the customer first, be outcomes-focused, fair and transparent, and that decision-making remains the responsibility of agencies and project leaders,” the NSW government states on its website.

There will also be an AI Review Committee created to review initial AI project plans and ensure they are consistent with ethical requirements.

The committee will be chaired by NSW Government Chief Data Scientist and ACS President Dr Ian Oppermann.

The government is yet to confirm the remaining members of this committee.