University of Adelaide opens new AI centre


Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

The University of Adelaide’s new artificial intelligence centre in Lot Fourteen has officially launched, aiming to train the next generation of machine learning experts and launch new startups.

The Centre for Augmented Reasoning launched on Friday and is managed by the university’s Australian Institute for Machine Learning It will be situated in Adelaide’s Lot Fourteen innovation precinct, with Professor Anton van den Hengel, an expert in parameter estimation and machine learning, to take on the role of director.

The new venture will focus on augmented reasoning, an emerging field of AI which combines machine learning pattern recognition with an ability to reason.

The new Centre for Augmented Reasoning is headquartered in the University of Adelaide Australian Institute for Machine Learning

The Centre for Augmented Reasoning has been funded with $20 million over four years from the federal government. The funding was announced in last year’s budget as part of the government’s “Jobmaker” research package, and followed lobbying by independent senator Rex Patrick.

“I am pleased to have played a part in delivering this centre for South Australia. It will be a major drawcard for the smartest young minds in the state to stay here in SA,” Senator Patrick said on Friday.

“AI is a critically important emerging technology that Australia must embrace. The jobs of the future will incorporate AI, not be replaced by it.”

The new centre will research and develop new augmented systems across a range of applications including data analysis for business processes, augmented manufacturing, customer service, and robots that can follow verbal instructions from people.

The new initiative includes a $3.5 million fund for AI commercialisation, which the university said will be used to provide startup seed funding and to develop partnerships and strategic programs.

In the run up to the new centre opening, the University of Adelaide had been recruiting for 15 grant funded researchers in augmented reasoning machine learning for 12 research projects, offering up to $141, 537 per annum.

The Centre for Augmented Reasoning was launched Friday by South Australian Premier Steven Marshall.

“Centres like this cement Lot Fourteen as the innovation centre of the nation,” Mr Marshall said.

“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.”

University of Adelaide vice-chancellor and president Peter Høj said AI was having an impact on all academic areas of the university.

“AI is already having an impact on every academic area of the University. Just as computers are now the standard tool in all workplaces, machine learning will soon become a new standard for every industry. It’s a critical part of the future,” Mr Høj said.

The federal government announced more than $124 million in new funding for AI in the May budget. But the money is yet to be released, causing frustration in the local industry.

The Centre’s director Professor van den Hengel said the impact of AI is already being felt and Australia needs to apply it widely to stay competitive.

“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,” Professor Anton said.

“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.”

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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