Oceania Government



How a companion robot can help children with chronic illness

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Technological advancements in the medical field are vital to improving the way patients receive care. In many cases, there is a need for more resources to be directed towards patient care. But the current reality for many patients, especially children with chronic illnesses, is that medical professionals and families are often forced to carry a heavy load in caring for them. To address this need within the healthcare sector, there has been an uptick in the size of Australia's medtech startup community, with the NSW government expecting the industry to create 28,000 jobs and add AU$18 billion in gross domestic product to Australia by 2025. Among the medtech startups in Australia is ikkiworks, which developed a companion robot that helps soothe and monitor the vital signs of children with chronic illness while they are away from the hospital.


NSW government stumps up AU$15m for Sydney Quantum Academy

ZDNet

The New South Wales government has announced funding a new initiative aimed at getting university students engaged with quantum computing. The AU$15.4 million Sydney Quantum Academy (SQA) initiative will see the University of Sydney (USyd), University of New South Wales (UNSW), Macquarie University, and University of Technology Sydney (UTS) encourage students to work with each other and train across the four universities. It is expected the funding will also be used to link students to industry through internships and research; support the development of quantum technology startup businesses; and promote Sydney as a quantum computing hub. The NSW government funding, combined with current university and future industry support, sees the total investment in the SQA pinned at around AU$35 million. "Our new investment will secure a pipeline of highly skilled quantum engineers, software experts and technicians to build and program these incredible machines as the technology becomes reality," Deputy Premier John Barilaro said.


IP Australia's Alex is more than just a chatbot

ZDNet

Falling under the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, IP Australia administers intellectual property rights and legislation relating to patents, trademarks, registered designs, and plant breeders' rights in Australia. The agency was stood up in 1904 as the Australian Patent Office. Despite its age, IP Australia started down its digital transformation path a lot earlier than its other government peers, even before the Digital Transformation Office cum Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) was formed. The government entity went from having around 12 percent digital transactions available in 2012 to 99.6 percent currently, and is now working on bringing the last possible 0.2 percent online. Speaking at Criterion Conferences' Improving the Customer Experience across Government event in Sydney on Tuesday, IP Australia director of Digital Services, Innovation and Technology Craig Stokes said that despite the abundance of digital transactions available, there is still a call centre, and it is vitally important to the business.


NSW government signs on Microsoft for help with digital transformation

ZDNet

The New South Wales government's Department of Finance, Services, and Innovation (DFSI) has announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Microsoft Australia. Reimagining business for the digital age is the number-one priority for many of today's top executives. We offer practical advice and examples of how to do it right. It is expected the MOU will "kick-start" brainstorming sessions, with the intention of progressing digital transformation across state government departments and the public service. "If we are really going to achieve our ambition of transforming the citizen's experience with government, we need to work across agencies ... across NGOs, across research organisations," NSW government chief information and digital officer Greg Wells told journalists on Tuesday.


Consultation Human Rights and Technology

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The Australian Human Rights Commission is conducting a project on Human Rights and New Technology (the Project). As part of the Project, the Commission and the World Economic Forum are working together to explore models of governance and leadership on artificial intelligence (AI) in Australia. This White Paper has been produced to support a consultation process that aims to identify how Australia can simultaneously foster innovation and protect human rights – as we see unprecedented growth in new technologies, such as AI. The White Paper complements the broader issues raised in the Commission's Human Rights and Technology Issues Paper. The consultation conducted on the Issues Paper and White Paper will inform the Commission's proposals for reform, to be released in mid-2019. The White Paper asks whether Australia needs an organisation to take a central role in promoting responsible innovation in AI and related technology and, if so, what that organisation could look like.


Auditor labels Australia's Biometric Identification Service 'deficient'

ZDNet

The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has blasted the execution of Australia's Biometric Identification Services (BIS) project, labelling it deficient in almost every way. The BIS project, awarded to NEC Australia, kicked off before the July 2016 creation of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission's (ACIC), which was formed following the merger of the CrimTrac agency, the Australian Crime Commission (ACC), and the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC). All the big questions answered on Australia's encryption laws answered. It had an initial budget of AU$52 million. The project, ANAO said, was meant to replace the existing National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS) and provide facial recognition capabilities to enhance law enforcement's biometric capabilities.


South Australia kicks off six month driverless shuttle trial

ZDNet

The South Australian government has launched a six month trail of a new autonomous bus and smart transit hub in Adelaide. The trial involves a driverless shuttle, known as Olli, and two transit hubs, called Matilda. Olli will drive from Mosely Square in Glenelg to the Broadway Kiosk, and back, with a statement from SA Minister for Transport, Infrastructure, and Local Government Stephen Knoll pointing to the trial as showing how technological developments could improve the state's transport system and customer experience. Transportation is about to get a technology-driven reboot. The details are still taking shape, but future transport systems will certainly be connected, data-driven and highly automated.


New traffic cameras to snitch on texting drivers in NSW

ZDNet

Those using a phone while driving on New South Wales roads have been put on notice by the state government, with cameras capable of catching illegal phone use set to be deployed across the state. The state government will be deploying the tech initially on Western Sydney's M4 motorway and Anzac Parade in Southeast Sydney. The three-month traffic camera pilot will be delivered by Australian firm Acusensus, which was one of the three companies that took part in an October testing operation. During the four-week test period, more than 11,000 drivers were detected using a mobile phone illegally. "Shockingly, one driver was pictured with two hands on his phone while his passenger steered the car travelling at 80 km/h, putting everyone on the road at risk," Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said of the trial.


Why Australia is quickly developing a technology-based human rights problem

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Artificial intelligence (AI) might be technology's Holy Grail, but Australia's Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow has warned about the need for responsible innovation and an understanding of the challenges new technology poses for basic human rights. "AI is enabling breakthroughs right now: Healthcare, robotics, and manufacturing; pretty soon we're told AI will bring us everything from the perfect dating algorithm to interstellar travel -- it's easy in other words to get carried away, yet we should remember AI is still in its infancy," Santow told the Human Rights & Technology conference in Sydney in July. Santow was launching the Human Rights and Technology Issues Paper, which was described as the beginning of a major project by the Human Rights Commission to protect the rights of Australians in a new era of technological change. The paper [PDF] poses questions centred on what protections are needed when AI is used in decisions that affect the basic rights of people. It asks also what is required from lawmakers, governments, researchers, developers, and tech companies big and small. Pointing to Microsoft's AI Twitter bot Tay, which in March 2016 showed the ugly side of humanity -- at least as present on social media -- Santow said it is a key example of how AI must be right before it's unleashed onto humans.