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Scott Morrison Wants Australia to Develop Its Own ‘Critical Tech’

Gizmodo Australia logo Gizmodo Australia 17/11/2021 Asha Barbaschow

Prime Minister Scott Morrison reckons quantum technology, autonomous cars, robotics, 5G (and 6G), cybersecurity and artificial intelligence are the future. So much so that on Wednesday he’s announced a ‘critical technologies’ plan that includes funding for quantum computing to the tune of $70 million. But this Blueprint for Critical Technologies is mostly to keep production of these goods on Aussie turf OR done in partnership with ‘like-minded’ countries.

During a speech to ASPI’s The Sydney Dialogue on Wednesday, the PM announced the Blueprint for Critical Technologies, which he said “sets out a vision for protecting and promoting critical technologies in our national interests”.

Basically, he said, the blueprint will provide somewhat of a framework to work domestically and with other countries to develop these critical technologies.

Within the 32-page Blueprint for Critical Technologies document, there are four priority areas for Morrison. One is ensuring we have access to, and choice in, critical technologies and systems that are secure, reliable and cost effective. Really, he wants to promote Australia as a trusted and secure partner for investment, research and collaboration.

He also wants the integrity of our research, science, ideas and capabilities to be harnessed (hopefully this means no more cuts to the CSIRO) aaaaand to build trust in what Aussies can develop.

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There are 63 things classed as critical technologies under the blueprint, but initially, the government is focusing on nine: quantum tech, cybersecurity, advanced communications (5G and 6G), artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and robotics, antibiotics and antiviral vaccines, low-emission alternative fuels, genomics and genetic engineering and critical minerals.

While we don’t yet have much on eight of the initial lucky nine critical technologies contained within the blueprint, the PM made a pretty decent announcement where quantum is concerned.

He announced an investment of $70 million over the next decade in a Quantum Commercialisation Hub, which, as the name suggests, is designed to commercialise Australia's quantum research and forge links with global markets and supply chains.

“This is about capitalising on our competitive advantage and taking our research to the world,” Morrison said. “The Hub will be designed to attract private co-investment and to partner with equivalent bodies among like-minded nations.”

Fresh from appearing yesterday alongside Google Australia MD Mel Silva while her company announced a $1 billion Digital Future Initiative, Morrison took the opportunity to talk a little more about technology.

“Ladies and gentlemen, technology isn't developed in a vacuum. It reflects the values of the society that creates it and how they use it … we are guided by our values, as a liberal, democratic nation, based on respect for the rule of law, human rights, economic and religious freedom, gender equality and independent institutions,” he said.

“We want technology to protect our citizens’ autonomy, privacy and data."

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