By Neeraj Nanda
SYDNEY/MELBOURNE, 17 November 2021: Prime Minister Scott Morrisson today launched the blueprint for 63 ‘critical technologies to counter China’s emerging capability in technologies that matter in the 21st century. These technologies include artificial intelligence, 5G/6G advanced communications, synthetic biology, and quantum technology.
In his speech, PM Scott Morrison did not mention China but it is obvious the aim of the critical technologies action plan,
and the focus on AUKUS and Quad is aimed at Beijing’s surging advance in technologies and global economic dominance changing the face of the world.
He was addressing the Sydney Dialogue, organized by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) today. The Blueprint is supported by an Action Plan, which outlines what Australia is doing to protect and promote critical technologies in pursuit of our national interest.
The Action Plan identifies a priority list of technology to focus on. One of those is Quantum technology, announcing over $100 million investment in it, including $70 million for the Quantum Commercialisation Hub to foster strategic partnerships with like-minded countries to commercialize Australia’s quantum research and help Australian businesses access new markets and investors.
The Hub will be supported by the development of a National Quantum Strategy and quantum technologies prospectus, designed to align industry and government efforts and unlock greater private sector investment.
The Blueprint sets out four key goals:
1. Ensure we have access to, and choice in, critical technologies and systems that are secure, reliable, and cost-effective.
2. Promote Australia as a trusted and secure partner for investment, research, innovation, collaboration, and adoption of critical technologies.
3. Maintain the integrity of our research, science, ideas, information and capabilities – to enable Australian industries to thrive and maximise our sovereign IP.
4. Support regional resilience and shape an international environment that enables open, diverse and competitive markets and secure and trusted technological innovation.
“The Blueprint is supported by an Action Plan, which outlines what Australia is doing to protect and promote critical technologies in pursuit of our national interest, the PM said.
The strategy will be led by Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Cathy Foley, and informed by a National Committee on Quantum, comprised of a group of industry stakeholders and experts.
It is estimated that the development, commercialization, and adoption of quantum technologies can deliver Australia $4 billion in economic value and create 16,000 new jobs by 2040
Quantum computing – New computer systems that can solve problems faster than existing computers. Applications for this include simulating chemical and biological process, revealing secret communications, machine learning;
Quantum sensors – high precision and high sensitivity measurements. Applications for this include – enhanced imaging, passive navigation, remote sensing, quantum radar and threat detection for defence
Post-quantum cryptography – Mathematical techniques for ensuring that information stays private, or is authentic, that resist attacks. Applications securing online communications from attack.
The Action Plan technology priority list (but not limited to):
There are 63 critical technologies on the list — but we’ve got an initial focus, very clearly, on just nine:
Critical minerals extraction and processing
Advanced explosives and energetic materials
Critical minerals extraction and processing
Advanced Communications (including 5G and 6G)
Advanced optical communications
Advanced radiofrequency communications (incl. 5G and 6G)
Advanced data analytics
AI algorithms and hardware accelerators
Natural Language Processing
Cyber security technologies
Protective cyber security technologies
Machine learning (also in AI)
Genomics and genetic engineering
Genome and genetic sequencing and analysis (Next Generation Sequencing)
Novel antibiotics, antivirals and vaccines
Novel antibiotics and antivirals
Vaccines and medical countermeasures
Low emission alternative fuels
Hydrogen and ammonia for power
Quantum communications (incl. quantum key distribution)
Autonomous vehicles, drones, swarming and collaborative robotics
Autonomous systems operation technology
Drones, swarming and collaborative robots
The PM said, ” As we all know, technological change has helped deliver enormous human progress – in better health, longer life expectancy, wider learning, more leisure and greater prosperity.
Yet experience has also taught us that it brings new challenges, unanticipated consequences and enhanced risks.
Our time of rapid technological change is no different.
It corresponds with profound global challenges – from the immediate threats posed by COVID-19 and related economic disruption to climate change and geostrategic competition.
Technology is at the centre of how we now respond to all these challenges.
The simple fact is that nations at the leading edge of technology have greater economic, political and military power.
And, in turn, greater capacity to influence the norms and values that will shape technological development in the years to come.
Nowhere is this more powerfully illustrated than in the Indo-Pacific region — the world’s strategic centre of gravity.”
The PM said the AUKUS is about much more than nuclear submarines.
“AUKUS will see Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States promote deeper information sharing; foster greater integration of security and defence-related science, technology, industrial bases and supply chains; and strengthen our cooperation in advanced and critical technologies and capabilities,” he said.
” We are also deepening our technology partnerships through the Quad. Together with India, Japan and the United States, Australia is working to harness our respective nations’ capabilities to enhance the resilience of Indo-Pacific supply chains and foster an open, accessible and secure technology ecosystem.
At September’s first in-person Quad Leaders Meeting in Washington DC, we agreed to strengthen lines of effort across a number of very important areas, including:
• Technical standards, with initial focus on advanced communications and AI
• 5G deployment and diversification, and
• Detailed horizon scanning and mapping, with an immediate focus on supply chain security for semiconductors and their vital components, as well as exploring opportunities for cooperation on advanced bio-technologies,” he said.
We’re also working within the Quad to bolster critical infrastructure resilience against cyber threats, benchmarking against international best practice, the PM said.
The three days Sydney Dialogue (17,18,19 November 2021) will bring together political, business, and government leaders with the world’s best strategic thinkers to debate, generate new ideas and work towards common understandings of the opportunities and challenges posed by emerging and critical technologies.
The Sydney Dialogue will be global in outlook, but with a particular focus on the Indo-Pacific. In 2021, India will be a core focus, says a media release.
Among the speakers apart from the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison are:
Scott Morrison, Australian Prime Minister
Narendra Modi, Indian Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe, former Japanese Prime Minister
Marise Payne, Australian Foreign Minister
Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India External Affairs Minister
Nanaia Mahuta, New Zealand Foreign Minister
Dr. Kailasavadivoo Sivan, Chairman & Secretary, Indian Space Research Organisation, Department of Space
Sir Nick Clegg, Vice President for Global Affairs and Communications, Facebook
Enrico Palermo, Head of Australian Space Agency
Maria Ressa, Chief Executive Officer, Rappler and 2021 Nobel Peace Prize Winner
Karen Andrews, Australian Minister for Home Affairs