A new research centre that focuses on next-generation artificial intelligence (AI) technology will develop the high-calibre expertise Australia needs to compete in the coming machine learning-enabled global economy.

Launched on Friday 19 November by the Hon. Steven Marshall, Premier of South Australia, the Centre for Augmented Reasoning – funded with $20 million from the Australian government – is based at the University of Adelaide.

The new centre is headquartered within the internationally regarded Australian Institute for Machine Learning (AIML) at the University of Adelaide, which was jointly established with the Government of South Australia at Adelaide’s Lot Fourteen innovation precinct.

“Centres like this cement Lot Fourteen as the innovation centre of the nation.

“Nowhere else can you find a site which presents collaborative opportunities for so many high-tech and high-growth sectors, creating jobs and boosting the economy,” said Premier Marshall.

Augmented reasoning is a new and emerging field of AI that combines an advanced ability to learn patterns using traditional machine learning with an ability to reason.

The 4-year investment by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment in people and research will train a new generation of experts in machine learning – which is the AI technology driving real economic effects today – and support the growth of new high-tech jobs at the University and Lot Fourteen.

A $3.5m innovation fund for AI commercialisation will provide seed funding to launch new start-ups, as well as support local collaboration opportunities, strategic development programs, and new business ventures.

The centre will lead the research and development of new augmented systems, and improve machine learning technology across a range of applications, which might include:

  • machines that continually learn new things while interacting with the environment
  • machines that work with data analysts to optimise business processes
  • machines that can ask people questions in ways that are more natural and easier than filling in forms
  • robots that can understand and follow instructions from people
  • factories where people and machines work seamlessly together without the need for constant reprogramming of software.

Professor Anton van den Hengel, Director of the Centre for Augmented Reasoning, University of Adelaide said: “Artificial Intelligence is right now being used to improve the productivity of every industry sector. If Australia wants to participate in a future AI-enabled global economy, we need to be applying AI to improve our productivity. That's the way that we maintain Australian jobs.

“In every industry, the jobs that AI supports aren't AI jobs. They’re jobs in mining, agriculture, building and service industries. All of those industries will be impacted by the productivity gains from AI.

“By using AI to improve their efficiency, productivity and quality, Australian businesses will remain competitive in an increasingly automated global economy.

“If Australia is too slow in adopting new technology, then our industries will not be able to compete against regions that have already embraced the changes brought about by AI.”

Sourced from The University of Adelaide’s website: Adelaide at the centre of next generation AI research