printer icon
Ben Reid

AI and New Zealand’s productivity conundrum

Last week, the AI Forum met with Minister Clare Curran to discuss the findings and recommendations from our recent research report Artificial Intelligence – Shaping a Future New Zealand and to hear about the Government’s initiatives relating to AI and data. It was a wide ranging conversation, including AI impacts on New Zealand jobs, the Future of Work, AI ethics and digital rights, Digital 7 nations, education and skills. Last,  but by no means least, the economic opportunities from AI to help raise New Zealand’s productivity and international competitiveness. We look forward to continuing to work closely with Government to facilitate positive outcomes for New Zealand from AI driven change.

On the topic of New Zealand’s poor, long run productivity performance conundrum, Paul Conway of the Productivity Commission recently published a landmark paper Can the kiwi fly? Achieving productivity lift off in New Zealand, which recommends more international connection, capital deepening, greater competition and more effective technology led innovation to address one of the biggest challenges we face as a nation.

Many thanks to everyone (100+ people!) who raised their hand to join the AI Forum’s new working groups.  Group allocations are now arranged and we will be communicating next steps this week, so please keep an eye on your email. We’re looking forward to gathering everyone together for a kickoff meeting in September.

Other highlights from a busy few weeks include speaking about AI at the well attended Waikato FutureTech meeting in Hamilton, alongside presentations on Blockchain and Smart Cities.  It was great to meet such a strong and vibrant tech community in Waikato, impressively organised by @JannatMaqbool, thank you. Also, theoretical neuroscientist, data scientist and entrepreneur Dr Vivienne Ming spoke in Christchurch and Auckland about the Future of Work: Human/AI Potential. Watch her Q&A here.

I’m taking time out this week with family and friends in the Mackenzie Country, ferrying teenagers up and down to the ski slopes and hoping to run on a few local trails from the awesome Wild Things New Zealand trail directory. If you are taking time off during the school holidays, have a relaxing break.  If not, enjoy the reduced traffic on the way to work!

Best Regards
Ben Reid
Executive Director

Pictured above (L-R): Brigitte Morten (New Zealand Tech Alliance), Minister Clare Curran, Stu Christie (AI Forum), Ben Reid (AI Forum), Kim Connolly-Stone (MBIE, Digital Economy)

Register for Canterbury Tech Summit!

Discover our Tech and Innovation Story


Join the AI Forum’s Connect events in Wellington on 24 July, Auckland on 7 August and Christchurch on 8 August.  Listen to three lightning talks from local AI specialists including machine learning skills pathways, Xero’s AI journey, human/robot interaction, machine vision in orchards and AI transparency.How should board directors be preparing for AI driven change?

Join Shaun Ryan, Ben Reid and Olivia Erdelyi as they discuss The Impact of AI on Governance , an Institute of Directors event on 23 July in Christchurch.  Join the next #AIHappyHour on 26 July in Auckland for the AI Showcase event. Read how AI and IoT are changing the face of local dairy farming.  Plus, the happy union of AI and humans as reported in the NZHerald.

In other news,  Co-creator of Nadia, Australian Marie Johnson shares her view on why AI is a human right. Congratulations to FaceMe on their recent win at LAUNCH Festival Sydney with $100,000 investment and the opportunity to participate in the LAUNCH Incubator in Silicon Valley.  Congratulations also to Orbica for being selected in BNZ’s SuperSize SME programme.

Primer.AI’s founder, Kiwi Sean Gourley discussed the implications of AI language generation on productivity and international security at CogX 2018 .  Watch the video here.  Meanwhile, IBM’s Watson is analysing emotions at Wimbledon to compile video highlights.

Read PwC’s latest report on automation, Will Robots really steal our jobs?  The report includes analysis of over 200,000 jobs in 29 countries.  PwC have identified three waves of automation, algorithmic (to early 2020s), augmentation (to late 2020s) and autonomy (mid 2030s).Given the current challenges with New Zealand’s prison population, watch Professor Jens Ludwig’s Talks at Google:  Machine Learning in the Criminal Justice System, which also raises AI ethics concerns as well.

Join the Call for Code Global Initiative to build global solutions for disaster preparedness including preventing, responding to and recovering from natural disasters.

Learn about the 2018 challenge here.Don’t Worry About the Robots: how to survive and thrive in the new world of work was published last week by New Zealand’s Dr Jo Cribb and David Glover.  Chapters include future of work, key technology driven trends, career planning and self management.  Profiles include Dr Michelle Dickinson and AI Forum’s Frances Valintine.Launching this month,100TechWomen featuring a collection of inspiring stories from New Zealand’s brightest tech talent.  Save the date for AI-DAY 2019 on 28 March.  Register here for event announcements.

The 31st Australasian Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence  is 11-14 December in Wellington.

The Digital Skills Forum wants to know how you work with digital tech interns. Please complete this quick survey to help the Forum determine how to better connect studying and work through internships.

If you’re not on our AI ecosystem map, please email us. Have you been forwarded this newsletter? Simply subscribe here to receive your free monthly copy.

Want to know more?  Sign up for the AI Forum NZ update, it’s free and will take less than a minute!

Ben Reid I head up the AI Forum of New Zealand - working to harness the power of AI to help bring about a prosperous and inclusive future for New Zealand and the world. The AI Forum NZ brings together technology firms, businesses, universities and the government to connect, promote and advance the national AI ecosystem.