Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the new Blueprint for Critical Technologies last week, which features blockchain as one of the country’s key areas of interest.
What is the Blueprint for Critical Technologies?
With technological progress happening in real-time at an accelerating rate, you’d expect governments to have all sorts of secret plans and development programs up their sleeves. And you are right for assuming that, as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced just that last week.
He presented the Blueprint for Critical Technologies, an action plan that will set out a vision for “protecting and promoting critical technologies in our national interest.” Morrison added that the plan aims to balance the economic opportunities of critical technologies with their national security risks. It would give the government the right framework to work domestically and with “like-minded countries” to support its further development.
“Australia is already a global leader in several aspects of quantum technology. We have some world-class research capabilities and scientists, and strong foundations for a thriving quantum industry. Now, we need to take it to the next level,” Morrison is quoted.
What are the blueprint’s goals?
The blueprint sets out four goals for Australia:
- Have access to critical technologies and secure systems.
- Be recognised as a trusted and secure partner in relation to critical technologies.
- Preserve the integrity of local research in order to maximise its sovereign IP.
- Support regional resilience and shape an international environment that enables open, diverse, and competitive markets and secure and trusted technological innovation.
The action plan attached to the blueprint sees the government prioritise a list of critical technologies, which features 5G and 6G, advanced imaging systems, AI and machine learning, high-performance computing, protective cybersecurity technologies, robotics, various areas of quantum, and, most interestingly, blockchain.
What does this blueprint mean for blockchain?
While the plan details $111 million AUD to be spent on building out the country’s quantum sector and $70 million AUD to be allocated to a quantum commercialisation hub, it does not specify any sum that would go to blockchain technology.
However, in light of the recent developments around blockchain in Australia, one can expect that a significant amount of money will also be dedicated to researching blockchain. One possible course of action could be to follow the Senate committee’s recommendations on crypto regulation and spend money accordingly. Another option is to support green crypto mining and make a decisive push to position Australia as a green crypto mining hub.
Either way, crypto proponents will observe the government’s next steps with a healthy amount of suspicion, as meddling by the public sector usually does not sit well with regulation-abhorring crypto bulls. Considering the blueprint puts blockchain in the vicinity of “national interests,” those wary of government intervention will become even more so. Although CBDCs are not yet on the cards in Australia, they would also fit the bill when it comes to blockchain technology and national interests. The Australian blockchain community is yet to comment on the government’s announcement.