Melbourne will be home to an international-standard artificial intelligence (AI) centre, pending a formal agreement with the next federal government.

The effort is part of the Andrews Labor Government’s plan to attract AI talent from around the country and the world, boosting employment opportunities in new and emerging tech sectors such as the healthcare industry, biomedicine, and robotics.

The Labor Government will contribute $1 million toward establishing the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence in Melbourne, funds that would be combined with the $3 million committed to reviewing AI technology announced by Labor last year.

“This centre will help turbo-charge Victoria’s innovation ecosystem – it will be great to have it in Melbourne,” Minister for Innovation Martin Pakula said in a statement.  “Artificial intelligence is becoming the defining technology that is changing the way business is done, from autonomous vehicles and healthcare robots to the latest agriculture technology.”

The state’s $1 million investment to the proposed centre would help identify and establish a location for the new national centre, bringing together a mix of established businesses, startups and tertiary institutions.

“The big philosophy behind the centre is to start getting the national consciousness around AI, both its benefits and also some of the potential drawbacks, being considered in a central point – to think ahead about maximising the benefit and sidestepping some of the problems that might emerge, specifically in the labour market area,” shadow digital economy minister Ed Husic told the publication InnovationAus.

He explained the centre would be the common ground to bring together businesses, governments, unions and the community to see how Victoria can put AI to work and do it in a much better way than what the state has got at the moment.

The new centre will build on Victoria’s technology talent pool and established successes – Victorian universities are already producing about 37 per cent of Australia’s tech graduates, more than any other state.

“The government is ready to partner with the next Federal Government because Melbourne is the natural home to a national centre for artificial intelligence, Treasurer and Minister for Economic Development Tim Pallas said in a statement. “We are already attracting significant tech investment and we want to make Melbourne the drawcard for the best and brightest talent in the world.”

In an effort to deliver on safety for patients through the establishment of protocols around AI, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR) created a working group earlier this year to determine how the technology fits into the world of radiology and healthcare.

The University of Melbourne already has an A.I. and Autonomy Lab to develop innovative approaches to high-level cognitive reasoning, such as performing collaborative tasks, assessing the cognitive states of other agents, and human-agent interaction.



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