Australia’s Digital Future – Nation of Users or Leaders?

Australia risks becoming a laggard among the world’s top technologically driven nations without a stronger investment in digital technology-based research, innovation and workers, according to a new summary for policymakers published today.

While countries such as the USA, United Kingdom, France and Canada are prioritising digital technologies as a strategy to bolster competitiveness in the emerging ‘digital economy’, Australia is falling behind. Digital innovation accounts for only 7.4 per cent of Australia’s GDP compared to the 11.2 per cent average enjoyed by the OECD.

The summary, by the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, calls on the Australian Government to make emerging digital technologies a national science and innovation priority.

It says while the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the prioritisation of emerging digital technologies in Australia, they must now be recognised as an independent growth sector.

The summary also recommends research and innovation in emerging digital technologies be included in the Australian Government’s 2021 Research Infrastructure Roadmap.

It looks at emerging digital technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), augmented and virtual reality, blockchain and 5G. It also provides examples of the benefits being seen by other countries that have prioritised investment in science and technology research and development, and in particular in digital technologies.

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