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Ben Reid

AI: Automation, Skills and Inequality

This week, I have been digesting the profound concepts in a recent paper by preeminent UK Economist Adair Turner, Capitalism in the Age of Robots. The paper considers the possible long term impacts of rapid technological progress and in particular, of work automation and artificial intelligence.  It’s a long read, but asks challenging questions about how policy settings – particularly the current focus on GDP as a measure of productivity – may need to be adjusted to handle work, productivity, income and wealth distribution in the future. Here’s a helpful New Zealand focused summary from’s David Chaston.

In a similar vein, UK futurist Azeem Azhar has a very accessible slide deck on Automation: Inequality, Skills and Jobs, which outlines current thinking about future scenarios for work. As discussed at last week’s Tech Leaders’ Executive meeting with Finance Minister Grant Robertson, we need to better understand the impact emerging technologies will have on jobs and society, both in New Zealand and worldwide. While there is broad agreement that technology changes will be disruptive, there is no quick fix and we need to enable people to gain new skills now.

To this end, the AI Forum is focused on building strong partnerships between key players in the New Zealand AI Ecosystem: Government, global technology platform providers, universities and our many AI innovators and end users. This month we are hugely excited to be holding the AI Forum’s inaugural Working Groups Summit on 14 September. The summit brings together members from many diverse backgrounds to move forward on six AI related work streams of major importance to New Zealand. The groups are now formalised and collaboration has already begun (busy Slack channels!).  However, if you missed the call for participation and are still keen, there is still the opportunity to get involved.

Welcome to our new members including IAG New Zealand, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Social Development, CORE Education. A special thank you to IAG who join us as principal research partners for our next 2018-2019 project, Towards Our Intelligent Future: New Zealand’s AI Roadmap. We are also privileged to have IAG Head of Analytics Dr Ratneesh Suri leading Working Group 3: Assisting AI Adoption.

“The desire to contribute towards the advancement of New Zealand’s AI strategy, ethical and trusted capabilities, knowledge and AI talent pool, has driven IAG to join the AI Forum as principal research partner,” says IAG’s Billy Miller, General Manager Data Analytics, AI and Digital Innovation. Read more about IAG’s AI journey here.

Last week we rolled out an upgrade to the AI Forum website with improvements in site design, usability and performance. Let us know what you think.

Finally I hope to see many of you at this year’s Canterbury Tech Summit on 12 September!

Best regards

Ben Reid
Executive Director

Canterbury Tech Summit tickets selling fast!

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Attend The Waikato Dialogue: The Implications of Emerging Disruptive Technologies for International Security and New Zealand on 20 September at the University of Waikato.

Register to attend Oracle’s Impact event on 11 September in Auckland. Join AIMCOM, an AI event for marketers on 5 September and the monthly AI Show on 13 September, in Auckland.

Attend the Robotic Process Automation Summit on 14 September in Auckland. For a $65 early bird discount use promo code: 121_SPL.  Attend the New Zealand Cyber Security Summit on 18 October in Wellington.  

The 31st Australasian Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence  is 11-14 December in Wellington. The conference fosters research communication and collaboration among the Australasian AI community.

Stop Killer Robots! This week, New Zealand is attending the sixth Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) Meeting of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems at the United Nations in Geneva. Read more.

Attend New Frontiers in Analytics on 11 September in Auckland. Watch the documentary This is AI at 9.25pm on 2 September on Sky’s Discovery Channel. Will my job be taken by a robot? Read this extract from The Big Questions: What is New Zealand’s Future?

In local news, congratulations to AI Forum members Prefer for launching New Zealand’s first public platform to manage a swarm of conversational robots to improve customer engagement. It’s aptly called Zwerm, which is Dutch for swarm!   

In international news, read this timely report on the Canadian AI ecosystem. Meanwhile, in Europe, Norway’s largest companies join forces to develop national strategy on AI. The industry led approach aims to improve the quality and capacity for research, education and innovation.

The Warehouse Group is using AI for it’s ‘Snap and shop’ mobile app. Learn how Imagr is helping change the global retail landscape. In other news, is New Zealand prepared for AI on its roads and infrastructure

Digital Catapult, the UK’s digital innovation centre has appointed the country’s first applied AI ethics committee. According to a new report by the World Economic Forum, AI may destabilize world financial markets.

AI is making waves in healthcare, with DeepMind’s AI on par with top human experts, recommending treatment for many than 50 eye diseases with 94 percent accuracy. AI is also helping make treatment for cancer more bearable! Alin Ungueranu ponders the ethical challenges of AI in healthcare.

Algorithms fundamental to AI have immense potential to benefit business, government and society. How can we ensure transparency and accountability for important decision making? EY Law’s Frith Tweedie writes about steps to help manage algorithmic risk in both the public and private sectors. Read the full article.

New Zealand’s longest running inventor competition, Bright Sparks calls for brightest young minds.  Students can register their interest now but entries don’t open until 10 September.

Register your internship listing with Summer of Tech now.  Applications for the Edmund Hillary Fellowship (EHF) four cohort close on 2 September.  The Flux Accelerator is also accepting applications.

Register for the New Zealand FinTech Summit on 29 November in Auckland. Save the date for the Tech Marketers conference, 28 February, AI-Day  28 March and Techweek’19, 20-26 May, 2019.

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

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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.