Australia should fund a $1 billion national artificial intelligence initiative and prepare for the automation of up to 46 per cent of jobs by the end of the decade, a group of leading AI experts says. In the first report to present recommendations from Australia's AI thought leaders, researchers document the ways AI is already changing the way we work and play. From vending machines in Newcastle and remote monitoring of sick people's vitals in Perth to pothole maintenance and fruit sorting in Queensland, generative AI is among us. But we should be doing more - and fast - Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) chief executive Kylie Walker said. "Our moment to seize the day for driving responsible AI has arrived here in Australia - and globally - and we need to make sure that we don't miss that train," she said. Australia needed an additional 100,000 digitally-skilled workers over the next year as the country prepared for between 25 and 46 per cent of existing jobs to be automated by 2030. "That's not too far away," Ms Walker said. "But currently around 7000 students are leaving university with the right skills to take on these digital jobs. So getting from 7000 to 100,000 is going to need a coordinated, national investment bringing universities and industries together through a national AI initiative." The Kingston AI Group, which includes 14 leading AI professors from eight universities, has called for a $1 billion investment in research centres across the country in a new report released on Thursday, November 23. Entitled Responsible AI: Your questions answered, the report addresses the challenges and opportunities at home. Australia could lead the way in responsible AI, Australian Institute for Machine Learning director Professor Simon Lucey said. "Australian needs to complexify its economy and a real silver bullet for this is, potentially, AI," he said. "Responsible AI is something that Australia could really own, that we could really kind of lean into." Professor Lucey said Australia needed "a seat at the table" to decide its AI future. "If we sit back and wait for AI to be invented in other countries and play it safe - where we tend to with technologies in Australia - our values, our ideas about what the type of AI future that we want to see - won't come to fruition," he said. Microsoft's announcement of a $5 billion investment in AI and cloud computing did not go far enough. "In terms of computing, in terms of the data centres, we're already lacking in Australia in comparison to international competition," ATSE's Ms Walker said. "So it's going to need a much larger push from all stakeholders in terms of investment." She said in the past two decades just 752 AI projects had been funded in Australia, totaling about $323 million across various research centres. But last year alone, the US allocated $1.7 billion outside defence programs. Stela Solar, the director of the National AI Centre at the CSIRO, said artificial intelligence had already made its way into our daily lives. "One of the most familiar ones is our mobile phones. A lot of you know that unlocking your phone - whether it be with facial recognition, thumbprint, voice - all of that is being powered by AI technologies," she said. Virtual assistants like Siri, Google and Alexa were also powered by AI technologies. "They can understand and find the information we need. And also navigation - a lot of us as we're driving, as we're walking, getting to the places we want to get to, AI is helping us get there every day," Ms Solar said. AI is the steam engine of today and will fundamentally change how we live, work, play and care, ATSE chief executive Kylie Walker said. And Australians needed the literacy and understanding to face the coming changes. "We need to help people understand not just the fundamentals of how it works, but how to interact with it, embrace it, and meet it with an analytical mindset. We also need a culture of research and risk-taking," she said.