Australia should become “the sandbox for innovation” that will disrupt the world as we know it, says Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Craig Laundy.
In a Q&A discussion about the future of artificial intelligence (AI) and how it will impact our working lives, Mr Laundy suggested the nation embrace the changes.
“I would argue with 24 million people here we are the perfect test bed for the world’s technology. We could be a sandbox, they call it, and let overseas companies come here play and innovate,” he told the audience.
“But we can only do that if we have a good vision of what’s on the horizon not just now but what’s coming at us. It’s not to be feared. It’s to be embraced. As one door closes, another will open.
“Australia has been touted as the perfect sandbox for futuristic technology, Australians could be early adopters of new technology.”
His response came after the panel failed to reach a consensus on how the “inevitably dominant rise of AI” will effect the world as a whole.
Watch Craig Laundy’s response below:
The future workforce, humans v robots
Panic around Australian jobs being taken by robots governed conversation from the panel, with talk of call centres, factory workers and even lawyers losing work to technology.
“There’s no doubt at all the digital revolution, robotics and AI, will have massive impacts on employment. Whether it is five years, 20 years, but it will,” broadcaster and self-described maths geek Adam Spencer warned.
“For the next few years you’ll keep hearing the scary statistics that 40 per cent of our jobs are going to disappear. That’s been in Australia for quite a while now. Statistics coming out of the UK, 15 million jobs will disappear everywhere.
“That’s nothing compared to a call centre of 600 people replaced by a single smart server. That sort of stuff will at some stage happen.
“The jury’s out as to whether that means millions of people never work again but I think the potential impact is substantial.”
Mr Laundy said the answer to people’s fears was education, specifically coding to the younger generations.
“We now have 880-odd early learning centres engaging with coding, 1800 early learning teachers have done coding seminars to teach in those schools. Starting from that age in early learning,” he said.
“We shouldn’t be scared of teaching that in schools.
“Because risk-takers, investors industry-led disruption will create profitability and jobs.”
Technology can improve human relationships
Drone and entrepreneur specialist Catherine Ball said the implementation of greater technology will improve people’s lives and human relationships, despite reports of adverse affects.
“I have a really big passion that robotics and AI and this fourth industrial revolution is going to allow us to be more human,” she said.
“So we are going to not have to work 9-5 Monday to Friday. We’re not going to have to do unpaid overtime anymore.
“We’re going to be able to do a three-day or a four-day working week where we can spend more time with our grandmothers, help our neighbours and get involved in things that mean things to us.
“How we take these technologies and make the world a better place is our choice.”