AI could boost productivity: Research
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New research shows the opportunity AI has for boosting productivity

by Freya Lucas

February 02, 2024

New research from the Productivity Commission has found that artificial intelligence could significantly boost Australia’s productivity if governments implement well-directed policy and regulation.


With a variety of AI solutions emerging for the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, and with educators and operators considering the practical and ethical implications of introducing such technology into ECEC space, the findings will be of interest to the sector. 


The series of three papers follows a variety of businesses from many sectors and industries and  places Australia’s AI opportunity in a global context, to consider how our governments can help to maximise the potential economic benefits of this evolving technology.


Paper one outlines how Australia stands to benefit most from AI technology, and consequently, where governments should focus their policy efforts.


“Australian business is already adopting AI through its integration with existing software and services – but to get the big productivity dividends we need business to transform core systems and adopt new tools as they emerge. Governments can support this by investing in skills and digital infrastructure and modelling best practice,” Commissioner Stephen King said.


Paper two provides the government with a playbook for developing AI protections in the context of the emerging AI regulatory landscape. It outlines a stepped, gradual approach to regulation that’s focused on addressing harms as they emerge.


“Australia’s robust regulatory frameworks are one of our biggest strengths,” Commissioner King added. 


“Many uses of AI technology are already covered by this regulation. Before jumping to new AI-specific laws, we should examine existing regulations and better explain how they apply to the uses of AI.” 


“AI will likely highlight gaps in current laws and regulations that we will need to address. But pre-empting these gaps with overzealous lawmaking could put local policy out of step with global norms, limiting the potential productivity gains of this new technology.”


The research finds the challenges presented by AI are particularly acute in the case of data.


Paper three considers how AI raises the stakes for data policy, and what Australian policymakers should do to address the new questions about data rights and incentives that AI presents.


“Advances in AI highlight that data is an increasingly valuable resource that is underutilised in Australia,” the Commissioner said. 


“Key challenges for governments will be to improve protections and public confidence in data sharing, and to establish clear and consistent arrangements for training AI models.”


“The new wave of AI innovation may finally pull productivity growth out of the shallows – judicious policy interventions and a practical approach to regulation would put the Australian economy in the best position to ride that wave.”


The Making the most of the AI opportunity research papers are available from the Commission’s website:

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