AI could replace millions of jobs: report

Angus Livingston
(Australian Associated Press)


Artificial intelligence could put 3.5 million Australians out of a job over the next decade, leading experts to warn of the need for greater retraining and income support.

They also say Australia will need laws to measure happiness and wellbeing as more artificial intelligence takes over.

A new report from the Australian Council of Learned Academies says the future of the nation will be made by the decisions taken on artificial intelligence in coming years.

“With careful planning, AI offers great opportunities for Australia, provided we ensure that the use of the technology does not compromise our human values,” Professor Toby Walsh said on Tuesday.

The report quoted a Google Australia estimate that 3.5 million Australian workers are at high-risk of being displaced by automation by 2030.

“There may be a need to rethink the context of work itself. People will need to be meaningfully engaged in activities and roles independently of work,” the ACOLA report says.

“Income support could be considered for those displaced if they cannot be appropriately re-skilled.”

The report says traditional measures of success such as economic growth and income inequality can mask problems, so something else will be needed.

“Such measures could include the OECD Better Life Index or other indicators such as the Australian Digital Inclusion Index,” the report says.

“Measures like the triple bottom line may need to be adapted to measure success in a way that makes the wellbeing of all citizens central.”

The ACOLA panel recommends targeting skilled AI developers from overseas and bringing them to Australia to bolster the industry.

“What kind of society do we want to be? That is the crucial question for all Australians, and for governments as our elected representatives,” Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel said.

The report said Australia needed a national strategy for AI, a community awareness campaign, safe and accessible digital infrastructure, a responsive regulatory system; and a diverse and highly skilled workforce.

That includes digital infrastructure to allow personal data to be safely and privately transferred between digital providers.


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