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Microsoft invests $3.2 billion to expand AI and cloud infrastructure in Australia

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Microsoft has announced plans to invest A$5 billion ($3.2 billion) over two years to expand its artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing capabilities in Australia. This is part of a broader effort that includes skills training and cybersecurity initiatives.

The spending is expected to increase Microsoft's cloud computing services capacity by 250% to meet rapidly growing demand. Cloud computing usage in Australia is expected to double between 2022 and 2026 as the adoption of AI increases.

Microsoft's vice president, Brad Smith, said the investment is "a testament to our commitment to the country's growth and prosperity in the AI era."

This is our largest investment in Microsoft's 40-year history in Australia and a testament to our commitment to the country's growth and prosperity in the AI era. We're coupling this A$5 billion in computing capacity and capabilities with AI and engineering to strengthen the nation's cyber defense, including a deeper collaboration with the Australian Signals Directorate.

In addition, Microsoft will support the training of 300,000 Australians in skills needed to "succeed in the digital economy." This appears to be an effort to develop a local workforce equipped to realize the potential of AI and automation technologies.

Specifically, the A$5 billion investment will be used to expand Microsoft's data center footprint in Australia from the current 20 locations to 29. In a similar move, the company previously announced plans to build a new data center in Denmark that will run entirely on renewable energy and create approximately 200,000 jobs.

The company will also expand its cyber threat information sharing agreement with Australia's cybersecurity agency, the Australian Signals Directorate. This is aimed at strengthening cybersecurity protections amid rapid technological change.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese welcomed the investment, saying, "We must provide the skills that will enable Australians to succeed in the jobs of the future."

This is a major investment in the skills and workers of the future, which will help Australia to strengthen our position as a world-leading economy.

The announcement comes as Australia has launched a public consultation on the potential regulation of AI. This relates to concerns about bias, privacy breaches, and copyright infringement of this technology.

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