‘Tech will accelerate in dark times, says CSIRO’s Data61 boss’

By Simon Evans, Senior Reporter for Australian Financial Review September 8th, 2020

Jon Whittle AFRJon Whittle, the new boss of CSIRO’s Data61, the national science agency’s data and digital specialist division, believes some serious innovation will emerge from the dark economic times induced by the coronavirus.

He believes technology will be at the core of Australia’s economic revival on the way out of the pandemic. “History shows that economic recessions are a driver for innovation in the tech sector,” he says.

He points to a long list of tech giants established when the global economy was in a hole at various times over the past decades.

“Companies like IBM, HP, Microsoft, WhatsApp, Instagram and Uber all started business during a recession,” he says.

“The digital economy is booming and it has the potential to bring companies out of the greatest financial crisis many of them have ever faced. We’ve already seen this in certain sectors like telework, telehealth, online retail, online education, online entertainment,” he said.

“Online services in general have been booming during COVID-19, and we’ve seen 10 years’ worth of digital transformation in the space of a few months,” he said.

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