In April 2019, Australia’s national science agency CSIRO and the Department of Industry Innovation and Science (DIIS) co-developed a discussion paper for an AI ethics framework to respond to issues associated with AI, ensuring we use ethical and inclusive values to manage the deep influence it will have on the way we live, work and play.

In conjunction with the discussion paper, we have worked with DIIS to develop this report which lays the path for how AI can boost the productivity of Australian industry, creating jobs and economic growth and improving the quality of life for current and future generations.

This report leverages CSIRO’s expertise, working in deep collaboration with our network of digital specialists, and incorporating feedback gathered through national consultation with government, academic and industry stakeholders.

Key points:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) may be defined as a collection of interrelated technologies used to solve problems autonomously and perform tasks to achieve defined objectives, in some cases without explicit guidance from a human being. Subfields of AI include machine learning, computer vision, human language technologies, robotics, knowledge representation and other scientific fields.
  • The power of AI comes from a convergence of technologies.
  • AI is a general purpose technology that can be used to increase the efficiency, safety and quality of production processes in almost every industry. AI is already being used to solve challenging problems in health, welfare, safety, environment, energy, infrastructure, transport, education and other sectors.
  • Global investment into AI continues to grow. In the past few years alone, 14 of the world’s most advanced economies have announced over $86 billion in focused AI programs and activities. This has mostly been in the form of public sector investment but does include some private sector funds. These investments are improving the capabilities and competitiveness of governments, companies and workers in the global community and world economy.
  • Australia has established world-leading capabilities in a number of core AI-related fields housed within our universities, research organisations and companies. AI is also already being widely applied and developed by Australian governments, companies and start-ups. There are untapped opportunities for Australia to develop, coordinate, consolidate and concentrate our deep, but distributed, AI capabilities on matters of national significance. We can also create new job-generating AI industries.


  • To maximise the future benefits and build the right foundations for adoption, adaptation and development of AI technologies, government, industry and community should consider taking action in the following areas:
  • Develop an AI specialist technical workforce to meet the operational needs of industry. We estimate that between 32,000 – 161,000 AI specialist workers will be needed
  • by 2030;
  • Help workers whose jobs are likely to be positively or negatively impacted by AI and related digital technologies make early and strategic career transitions;
  • Ensure effective data governance and access as AI is typically data hungry and machine learning algorithms need “training data” to be developed and tested;
  • Build trust in AI by ensuring high standards and transparency for all applications developed and applied in Australia because without trust people are unlikely to adopt AI technologies;
  • Increase the activity within the science, research and technology development pipeline to ensure advanced AI capabilities for government and industry in the future;
  • Improve digital infrastructure (for data transmission, storage, analysis and acquisition) and cybersecurity so that AI can be safely and effectively used across Australian cities and regions; and
  • Develop appropriate systems and standards to ensure safe, quality-assured, interoperable and ethical AI is developed and applied within Australia.


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