New technologies offer unprecedented opportunities for economic growth and community wellbeing, but only if Australians are ready to adapt and learn, according to a new report from the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA).
Technology and Australia’s Future explores what it takes to win in the technology race and manage the human costs of disruptive technology.
Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb AC, who will launch the report in Canberra today, said decisions made today would impact generations of Australians.
“We need to be agile as a nation and we need to decide whether we want to equip ourselves with the skills and knowledge to forge our future or allow others to impose a future on us,” Professor Chubb said.
“In reality, of course, there is no choice about whether – the only choice is about how.”
ACOLA Council member and President of the Australian Academy of Science Professor Andrew Holmes said nations that did not embrace new technology would be left behind.
“Australia’s response to new technologies needs to be agile, adaptive and optimistic – new technologies can offer Australia great benefits; it is up to the nation to seize the opportunity,” Professor Holmes said.
Professor Robert Williamson, the report’s lead author, said it was vital not to underestimate the pace of technological change and its widespread impact on people and society.
“All new technologies disrupt the current way of doing things; this brings both benefits and disadvantages. The challenge is to leverage and share as many of the rewards while limiting any damage,” Professor Williamson said.
The report draws from the expertise of Australia’s four Learned Academies and considers how new technologies arise, how their impacts occur, to what extent they can be predicted, what technologies mean to people and how society’s interaction with technology influences behaviour.
The report makes 18 major findings, including the disruptive role that new information and communication technologies, especially data analytics, can have on existing business – from transportation to mining, healthcare and education.
Other findings focus on the skills that Australia needs to invent and harness new technologies and develop competitive strengths that outlive the resources boom.
ACOLA is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that supports evidence-based interdisciplinary research. ACOLA combines the strengths of the four Australian Learned Academies: Australian Academy of Science, Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, Australian Academy of the Humanities and Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.
EXPERT WORKING GROUP
Professor Rob Evans FAA, FTSE (Co-Chair)
Professor Robert C Williamson FAA (Co-Chair)
Dr Genevieve Bell
Professor Rod Broadhurst
Professor Gerard Goggin
Professor Ron Johnston FTSE, FRSN
Dr Michael Keating AC, FASSA, FIPAA
Professor Stephen King FASSA
Emeritus Professor John O’Callaghan FTSE