November 17, 2023

Australian Government Partners with Microsoft to Explore Safe and Responsible Use of AI

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The Australian Government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, has announced an exciting collaboration with Microsoft to explore the safe and responsible use of generative artificial intelligence (AI) in the public service. This partnership aims to leverage AI technology to enhance productivity, drive innovation, and deliver better government services to the Australian people. Let's delve into the details of this groundbreaking collaboration.

Exploring the Potential of Generative AI

The Australian Government plans to conduct a six-month trial of Microsoft 365 Copilot, positioning itself as one of the first governments worldwide to deploy generative AI at scale. This trial, which will take place from January to June 2024, aims to empower Australian Public Service (APS) staff to trial new ways of innovation and enhance productivity. Participating agencies will receive support from Microsoft, including training, onboarding, and implementation assistance. By providing digital training, Microsoft aims to help APS staff to develop their AI skills and literacy.

Leadership and Evaluation

The trial will be evaluated by the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA), which will assess the experiences and gather feedback to identify opportunities for improvement. The DTA, in consultation with the AI Taskforce, established by the Department of Industry, Science, and Resources, will ensure the trial aligns with the guidance for the public service on the use of generative AI. This evaluation process will provide crucial insights for the Australian Government to make informed decisions regarding the future deployment of AI in the public sector.

Microsoft's Commitment to Australia

This collaboration follows Microsoft's substantial investment of $5 billion in Australia, which includes expanding its hyperscale cloud computing and AI infrastructure, increasing the number of data centers across Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne. The establishment of the Microsoft Data Centre Academy in partnership with TAFE NSW will provide further training opportunities to enhance the digital skills of 300,000 Australians through their global skills program. Additionally, Microsoft's collaboration with the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) on the Microsoft-ASD Cyber Shield aims to bolster capabilities in identifying, preventing, and responding to cyber threats.

Responsible and Ethical AI Adoption

The Australian Government remains committed to ensuring the safe, ethical, and responsible use of technology and data. This collaboration signifies a strong emphasis on transparency, risk management, and governance of emerging technologies within the public service. By fostering an innovative culture and setting high standards, the government aims to meet community expectations regarding security, fairness, and privacy.

Looking Towards the Future

As the Australian Government pioneers the adoption of generative AI in the public service, it is positioning the nation as a leader in leveraging technology to drive productivity and deliver improved government services. This collaboration with Microsoft highlights the government's commitment to equipping the APS with the necessary skills and tools required to navigate the evolving digital landscape and meet the challenges and opportunities of the future.

In conclusion, the Australian Government's collaboration with Microsoft marks an exciting milestone in the realm of AI adoption in the public sector. With a focus on safety, productivity, and innovation, this partnership will pave the way for more efficient and effective government services. As the trial progresses and experiences are evaluated, the Australian public can look forward to a future where AI technology plays a crucial role in enhancing the public service delivery and meeting the evolving needs of the Australian community.

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