‘Hey Siri! Why is Deakin investing $33 million in AI?’

News / Pauline Braniff / April 12, 2019

Deakin University is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible between human interactions and artificial intelligence with an investment of almost $33 million into its new Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute (A²I²).

Deakin Vice Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander AO today joined Victorian Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade Martin Pakula to launch the Institute at the University’s Burwood Campus.

A²I² (pronounced A squared, I squared) merges the capabilities of the University’s Centre for Pattern Recognition and Data Analysis (PRaDA) and the Deakin Software and Technology Laboratory (DSTIL), bringing together all aspects of AI research and development from fundamental science to how it translates into commercial products for real-world application.

Professor den Hollander said A²I² had a particular emphasis on developing the partnership between the human user and the artificial intelligence (AI) system, and would explore how AI can present information that builds trust, is easily comprehensible, useful and timely.

“The ability of machines to imitate intelligent human behaviour is already part of our lives. Just ask Siri, Alexa or Google. AI is helping hospital trauma centres make faster, better decisions, and researchers develop improved materials for manufacturing,” Professor den Hollander said.

“Much is made of the potential for AI to replace human intelligence, but AI’s true potential lies in its capacity to enhance human abilities rather than replace them. We’re not building robots to take the place of humans, but we are creating technology that will work alongside people to help them make more informed and better decisions.

“Deakin is committed to supporting the communities we serve and we know there will be an increased demand for AI technology by business, industry and in the wider community.

“Through this sustained commitment to AI with a $32.7 million investment, we will also help ensure our local and global communities are prepared for the jobs of the future.”

Mr Pakula welcomed the work of the institute and Deakin’s commitment to AI research.

“Victoria is proudly leading the way as Australia’s home of tech and innovation and our success is supported by world-class universities such as Deakin,” Mr Pakula said.

Professor den Hollander said A²I² had almost 100 staff on board including several who had been working in the field for more than 25 years, long before the current interest in AI.

“Equally, A²I² has a long history in software development, with senior staff designing and building software systems for more than 27 years,” she said.

“This depth of knowledge allows the Institute to construct new AI concepts then build and test these concepts in real world environments to determine their actual value.

“A²I² will partner with industry to drive development of AI and help transform local communities and train the next generation for the jobs of the future.”

Projects currently underway from A²I² include:

  • The redevelopment of the Trauma Reception and Resuscitation decision support system for The Alfred Emergency and Trauma Centre which assists the trauma teams with their decision making processes and protocol compliance, as well as reducing errors for better patient care.
  • Working with Dementia Australia developing new approaches to health training including Educational Dementia Immersive Experience (EDIE) using VR as a tool in workshops to build empathy by allowing people to experience what it is like living with dementia through their own eyes and The Dementia-Friendly Home using interactive 3D game technology to provide carers with information and ideas to make their home more accessible for people living with dementia.