Scott Morrison warns countries like Australia must help prevent emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence from being used against citizens.
The prime minister detailed to an Australian Strategic Policy Institute forum on Wednesday his government’s blueprint for what is known as critical technologies.
These refer to current and emerging trends — including artificial intelligence and quantum technologies — with the potential to enhance or put at risk economic prosperity, social cohesion and national security.
The Morrison government is focusing on nine key areas including quantum technologies to be the focus of a $70 million hub aimed at commercialising Australian research under an agreement with the United States.
The hub forms the bulk of a $111 million quantum technologies investment the government hopes will amount to a $4 billion economic boom and create 16,000 jobs by 2040.
“This is about capitalising on our competitive advantage and taking our research to the world,” Mr Morrison told the Sydney Dialogue forum on Wednesday.
The prime minister framed Australia’s AUKUS pact with the United States and United Kingdom as a way to address technological disruption.
He sought to promote Australia as a trusted and secure partner for like-minded countries to collaborate on technologies including artificial intelligence.
“We want technology to protect our citizens’ autonomy, privacy and data,” Mr Morrison said.
“Not all governments see technology that way.”
He quoted US President Joe Biden as saying it was up to the world to determine “whether these technologies are a force to empower people or to deepen repression”.
The prime minister stressed Australia was committed to ensuring emerging technologies are governed in ways that “reflect the values of our open societies”.
“We cannot shy away from the ethical implications,” Mr Morrison said.
“We need to be asking ourselves what should be done with this technology, not just what can be done.”
Meanwhile, Labor has announced a $2.4 billion NBN upgrade including giving 1.5 million homes and businesses access to higher quality internet.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has pledged to keep the NBN in public hands should Labor win power at the election due by May 2022.
The proposal would give households and businesses relying on copper wire for an internet connection the option to switch to a fibre connection to their premise.