Microsoft to invest A$5bn to help Australia boost AI future

Microsoft and Australia are set to capitalise on opportunities in the latest AI technology, extending its global skills programme to boost economic growth

Although AI has existed in the academic and scientific field since the 1950s, the recent advancements of this technology has caused it to gain a significant amount of traction. The surge in AI, caused mainly by the development of deep learning techniques and the rise of large-scale neural networks, has meant that industries all over the world are being transformed by AI. 

From healthcare and manufacturing to transportation and retail, it seems that everyone wants to be a part of AI digital transformation.

Expanding Australia’s digital capacity

Recently, global giant Microsoft announced that it is to make a significant investment in Australia, focusing on digital infrastructure, skilling, and cybersecurity. The company are injecting A$5bn (US$3.17bn) into expanding its cloud computing and AI capabilities, which is the single largest investment in its 40-year history in Australia. This expansion will add nine new data centres across Canberra, Melbourne, and Sydney.

In order to realise the full potential of this investment, Microsoft is partnering with TAFE NSW to establish a Microsoft Datacentre Academy, extending skills programs to help over 300,000 Australians gain the experience they need to succeed in the cloud and AI-driven economy. 

In a statement issued by Microsoft, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, says: "This is a major investment in the skills and workers of the future. We need to provide the skills to enable Australians to succeed in the jobs of the future."

Furthermore, Microsoft is collaborating with the Australian Signals Directorate on the Microsoft-Australian Signals Directorate Cyber Shield (MACS) in order to enhance cybersecurity defences for residents, businesses, and government entities. 

An AI-powered future

Microsoft's investment aims to significantly increase Australia's digital capacity by 250%. This will provide the 13th-largest global economy with the ability to harness the potential of AI and meet the growing cloud computing demand, which is expected to almost double from A$12.2bn (US$7.72bn) in 2022, to A$22.4bn (US$14.2bn) in 2026. On top of this, Microsoft’s investment is set to drive economic growth, enabling Australia to capitalise on opportunities that are presented by the latest in AI technology, as mentioned in a recent report by the Tech Council of Australia and Microsoft.

Additionally, Microsoft is in the process of preparing to launch its first Datacentre Academy in Australia in 2024, in collaboration with TAFE NSW. The academy's curriculum will be tailored to align with core operational positions, such as data centre technicians, critical environment specialists, inventory and asset management professionals, and IT operations personnel.

The move is aligned with Microsoft's sustainability goals and incorporates eco-friendly construction materials and renewable energy sources. Microsoft ensures that its new data centres will help meet the company’s sustainability goals of being carbon-negative, water-positive and zero waste by 2030. 

Microsoft’s Vice Chairman and President, Brad Smith, says that the spending plan was "a testament to our commitment to the country's growth and prosperity in the AI era".

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