Artificial intelligence to boost Australian infrastructure industry

Artificial intelligence (AI) could improve the safety, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of infrastructure and the built environment, according to the Federal Government’s new AI technology roadmap.

The roadmap, developed by CSIRO, outlines the importance of swift action on the developing technology, estimated to be worth $22.17 trillion to the global economy by 2030.

The report leverages CSIRO’s data science and digital arm, Data61, and was developed for the Australian Government in consultation with industry, government and academia.

The roadmap identifies strategies to develop national AI capability to boost the productivity of Australian industry, create jobs and economic growth and improve the quality of life for current and future generations.

Data61 Senior Research Scientist Stefan Hajkowicz said the key to Australia’s AI-enabled future is technological specialisation and creating targeted areas of AI capability, to gain a comparative advantage in the global marketplace.

The roadmap identifies three key specialisations including health, ageing and disability, natural resources and the environment and cities, towns and infrastructure.

“The three AI specialisations we’ve identified are based on the opportunity to solve significant problems at home, export the solutions to the world and build on Australia’s existing strengths,” Dr. Hajkowicz said.

Of cities, town and infrastructure, Dr. Hajkowicz said AI could improve the safety, efficiency, cost-effectiveness and quality of the built environment.

“This involves the use of AI to decrease the costs and improve effectiveness of built infrastructure planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance. There are significant shortcomings in built infrastructure which are already impacting the operation of our towns and cities,” the report reads .

“Automation and sensory systems can improve our infrastructure. We have world-leading capabilities within this area and we can export the solutions to a rapidly urbanising world.”

Dr. Hajkowicz said for Australia to see the full benefits of AI by 2030, action needs to be immediate.

“AI will create more jobs than it will displace, but we’ll need to transition and upskill the existing workforce. We also need to build trust in AI and ensure it’s developed to safe and ethical standards,” Dr. Hajkowicz said.

“AI is data hungry, so we need to improve access to data and also address increasing cybersecurity privacy concerns. Greater investment in applied research and development will underpin these foundations and help us shape an AI-enabled future for the benefit of all Australians.”


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