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How AI will bring $200b to the Australian economy

The problem for Australia, the report found, is that such sectors weren’t embracing AI, and were leaving that to early adopters such as China, the USA and Canada, which will disproportionately reap the benefits of AI.

“If present trends continue without substantial investment by other countries, 40 per cent of the total GDP gains from AI will be shared by China and North America. Other areas predicted to gain include developed Asia, Western Europe, and Southern Europe,” the report said.

“Australia has got a reputation for being a quick adopter of technology across a range of technologies.

“But with AI, businesses all know it’s coming and that it’s going to be a big deal, but they’re still seeing it as a kind of adjunct to their business. There’s a widespread lack of realisation of the extent of change that’s going to occur,” Professor Mangan told the Australian Financial Review.

Too much focus on safety

Professor Anton Van Den Hengel, a former director of applied science at US retail giant Amazon and the director of The University of Adelaide’s Centre for Augmented Reasoning, said the country was at risk of missing out on the potential GDP growth from AI, in part because politicians have been focussed on AI safety, rather than on investing in building up AI capability.

“The feedback from politicians is that it’s not a barbecue stopper. We don’t have people in the streets saying ‘We demand an AI-enabled economy for our children’. Instead the debate is ‘Is it safe for our children?’” Professor Van Den Hengel said.

“But people should be in the streets demanding that our economy make the transition to an AI-enabled future.

“Most other nations have realised that this technology is critical to their economic future and have invested heavily. We have invested almost nothing as a nation.

“We have not identified the economic opportunity that all these other nations have identified,” he said. “The way things are going, we are not going to participate.”