Digital tech is now at the heart of our everyday lives, as anyone who has swapped their office for a videoconferencing screen or downloaded a contact-tracing app, knows only too well.

Australia May left behind in Race of Digital Future

This trend is set to continue even in a post-COVID world. Australia is at a crossroads in developing a strong digital economy to meet this changing world head-on.

In the words of the computing pioneer Alan Kay, “the best way to predict the future is to create it”.

Australia too needs to grab the opportunity to leverage its research and development strengths in emerging digital technologies and create a “digital future” by amplifying the opportunities for growth in this important sector and strengthen our sovereign capabilities.

But Australia is lagging behind many other nations in shaping this digital future.

In a new report released today, the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering have jointly issued an urgent call to action, asking the government and industry to recognize the importance of emerging digital technologies.

The report makes several key recommendations:

  1. elevate emerging digital technologies as a national science and innovation priority
  2. include research and innovation in emerging digital technologies in the 2021 Research Infrastructure Roadmap
  3. recognize emerging digital technologies as an independent growth sector.

What technologies should be encouraged?

The report focuses on emerging digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), augmented and virtual reality, blockchain, and 5G networks.

These innovations are already starting to transform industries such as manufacturing, agriculture, waste management, transport, finance, education and health. But they are still considered “emerging technologies” because they have not yet realized their full commercial potential, unlike more established technologies such as 3D printing, mobile computing, or GPS.

The next wave of emerging digital technologies, such as self-driving vehicles, smart microgrids, 6G networks, and quantum computing, will further disrupt and transform many sectors of the economy.

Of course, it is hard to predict exactly what innovations will arise in the future. But by ensuring a strong national focus on fundamental science and engineering in this fast-evolving area, Australia can ensure it stays ahead of the curve, no matter what the future brings.

What are other nations doing?

The problem is that Australia is currently doing the opposite. It is falling behind countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, France, Canada, and China, all of which are prioritizing digital technologies as a strategy to bolster their global competitiveness.

Digital innovation accounts for only 7.4% of Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP), compared with an OECD average of 11.2%.

Originally Published By TechWire

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