Aussie curiosity about AI tech reaches all-time high

Working out how to use artificial intelligence technology and how to work out when it has been used is dominating Australians' online curiosity with web searches about AI reaching an all-time high.

Google revealed the trend in its latest online search data on Thursday, showing that web queries about AI technology had soared by 50 per cent in Australia during the past year. 

The news comes as Australia's first AI advisory group works to develop the riskiest uses of the technology and mandatory restrictions for its use.

Google search trends for the first three months of the year showed the technology dominated queries in Australia and abroad, with AI searches more than doubling globally and generative AI questions showing an ever steeper increase.

Google Australia and New Zealand managing director Mel Silva said AI web searches in Australia had reached an "all-time high this quarter".

Mel Silva in front of a Google logo.
Google's Mel Silva says Australians are interested in AI but wary of unintended consequences..

"Australians are fascinated by AI and are looking for opportunities to learn new skills, boost their creativity and figure out how they can embrace the technology to further their businesses and careers," she said.

"These search trends show just how curious Australians are about AI."

While 'what is AI' was the top question asked about the technology, Google data showed questions about how to create images using artificial intelligence were the most popular 'how to' queries, involving everything from art to comics, as well as how to detect when the technology had been used to create graphics.

Image-based AI was also the most popular topic among people searching for AI tools online, according to Google, followed by AI detectors, and software that could create voices, logos and writing. 

Business-related AI queries in Australia took a different look at the technology, however, asking how it could be used to make money or improve marketing, but also "how many industries will AI ruin".

Ms Silva said the results showed Australians were interested to learn how to innovate using the technology but wary about unexpected consequences. 

"These trends show that Aussies are inspired by the opportunities, while also being conscious of considerations related to detection, accuracy and the impact on industries in the future," she said.

"The fascination about AI is a positive sign for Australia."

The findings come two months after Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic appointed 12 experts to an AI expert advisory group, following recommendations from public consultation about the technology. 

The group, which includes representatives from the CSIRO, universities and law firms, is tasked with identifying the riskiest uses of the technology and developing mandatory restrictions to limit harm. 

The panel will also investigate ways to warn the public about when AI has been used, and encourage technology firms to be more transparent about the data sources used by AI models.

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