Challenges & Opportunities: DARE Response to Australia’s Science and Research Priorities

Australia’s Department of Industry, Science and Resources have been seeking input in order to refresh the National Science and Research priorities to reflect the country’s ambitions and challenges.

DARE Director, Willem Vervoort, along with several DARE CIs provided a detailed response outlining challenges which can be addressed through science, future opportunities for research, as well as strengths that Australia can build upon. DARE’s full response can be found here.

We live in extraordinary times. Never before has the world been able to collect so much data about so many different things in so many different locations, using a multitude of sensors – from the nano scale to the satellites observing the total earth. However, collecting data is only one part of the puzzle. The major challenge is to use this exponentially growing amount of data to improve policy and management on local and international scales.

There are several opportunities to strengthen Australia’s capacity in this area:

  • Interest and recognition: Due to global developments in AI, there is increasing interest in Data Science, and increased recognition by business and the public of the value of Data and Data Science in a multitude of disciplines.
  • Scenario capable models: There is a strong trend towards “interpretable” and “physics based” AI and machine learning, which promises to be more adaptable to complex and changing challenges in real world systems. Such approaches can be queried under changing conditions and can be used for scenario analyses. Making AI more human interaction friendly can be seen as part of this trend.
  • Emerging investment: The emerging developments and investments in computing potentially provide increased computing capacity for large AI and Machine Learning models.
  • Automation potential: With Australia’s economy more and more underpinned by the service industry and lacking real opportunities for productivity gains, AI and Machine Learning open new avenues for automation of tasks (and thus, productivity gains). Using interpretable Data Science to solve complex multi-disciplinary problems will strengthen gains that are currently unachievable.
  • Training: to ensure that data science remains responsive to emerging challenges and opportunities, it is important to prioritise ongoing education and training for researchers and creating the next generation of data science graduates.

The DARE Training Centre is already leveraging the benefits of data science methodologies applied to natural resource and environmental challenges in recent simulation and modelling reports, with the NSW Smart Sensing Network “Where is The Water?” and The Minderoo Foundations Flourishing Oceans initiative, the Global Fishing Index. Including a National Research Priority based on multi-disciplinary applications of Data Science will strengthen these emerging trends.

You can read DARE’s full response here.