Microsoft will invest A$5 billion ($3.2 billion) in expanding its artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing capabilities in Australia over two years. This investment is part of a wide-ranging effort that includes skills training and cybersecurity.
Microsoft said that it will raise its computing capacity in Australia by 250 percent, enabling the country to meet demand for cloud computing. Cloud computing is the practice of storing data on a separate network, and it is expected to double from 2022 to 2026 as AI becomes more prevalent.
In addition to the A$5 billion investment, Microsoft said that it would support training 300,000 Australians in skills needed to “succeed in the digital economy.” The company will also expand a cyber threat information-sharing agreement with the country’s cybersecurity agency, the Australian Signals Directorate.
Microsoft Vice Chairman and President Brad Smith said that the spending plan is “a testament to our commitment to the country’s growth and prosperity in the AI era.”
Microsoft’s managing director for Australia, Steven Worrall, said that the spending will “not only enable a safer and more secure digital economy, but also provide a platform to foster growth and innovation in the era of AI.”
Microsoft did not offer details on how it would spend the A$5 billion other than to say that it would grow its computing capacity significantly. The company said that it would expand its data center footprint in Australia from 20 sites to 29.
A recent report, which Microsoft co-wrote, said that generative AI, a form of automation that adapts to new data inputs, could contribute up to A$115 billion per year to Australia’s economy by 2030 if quickly adopted.
Australia has no AI-specific regulation, but copyright lawyers and human rights groups have said that the technology must have some guardrails to protect against bias, copyright infringement, and privacy breach.
Microsoft’s investment in Australia is a significant development for the country’s technology sector. The investment will help to accelerate the adoption of AI and cloud computing in Australia, which could boost the country’s economy and create new jobs.