Google made founding partner of CSIRO’s National AI Centre

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

Tech behemoth Google is the first founding partner of Australia’s new CSIRO-run National Artificial Intelligence Centre, with the two organisations set to share skills in a bid to build an economy-wide network around “AI for humans”.

Announced Tuesday by CSIRO boss Larry Marshall and Google ANZ managing director Melanie Silva, the new partnership will deepen ties between the organisations which last year signed a five-year, multi-million-dollar deal on clean energy and AI research.

Mel Silva
Google ANZ managing director Melanie Silva

“We’re going to bring the people together,” Ms Silva said at the AFR Business Summit on Tuesday.

“We’ve obviously got a lot of engineers and researchers as well as experts [at Google] who are going to come together and work with the team at CSIRO to take this out to industry.” understands CSIRO is in discussions with a number of other interested parties and hope to announce more foundation partners in the coming months.

The National Artificial Intelligence Centre was announced in the lead up to last year’s budget with CSIRO allocated nearly $45 million to operate the centre and a scholarship program for AI graduates.

The centre opened this year within CSIRO’s Data61 and is led by Microsoft’s former AI sales and strategy chief Stela Solar. It aims to lay the foundations for an Australian AI and digital ecosystem by “coordinating Australia’s AI activity, expertise and capabilities to improve productivity and lift competitiveness”.

On Tuesday, Dr Marshall said adding Google as a founding partner would help build out Australia’s emerging AI network, which already has a strong research base.

“[The National AI Centre will] network them together with amazing industry partners, like Mel to really try and drive AI for purpose. In fact, we’re calling it AI for humans…Because a differentiation is the ethics, the diversity, the connection to real world problems that Australians care about,” Dr Marshall said.

Ms Silva agreed the emerging technology is rising quickly and bringing new risks that need to be addressed by businesses from the start.

“It’s very fraught. There’s a lot of responsible responsibility issues, there’s ethical issues. But if you think about the next wave of innovation for your organizations — you’ve probably heard it 20 times today, that AI is going to be the big breakthrough, we’ve all got to be investing,” Ms Silva told the business summit

“But who’s setting your agenda and how can you really unlock it in your organisation? So, I think that us coming together to help accelerate this from an industry appreciation point of view is a super important unlock.”

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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