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Ben Reid

Artificial Intelligence Strategy for New Zealand – #GSD

You can’t have missed the continued uncertainty surrounding the appointment of a national Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for New Zealand – a role designed to “help develop a digital strategy for New Zealand, drive our digital agenda and respond to the opportunities and challenges of our changing digital world”, intended to be filled by now.

Leaving political party positions aside, it’s worth reviewing last year’s New Zealand’s Digital Future 2017 Manifesto of which 20 tech sector bodies (including the AI Forum) were signatories:

“It is our strongly held belief that the prosperity of New Zealand is inextricably linked to how we embrace our future as a digital nation…  As a country, we need to wholeheartedly embrace [technology] change, installing a dedicated Ministry of the Future, and Chief Technology Officer, to consider the implications of change across social, economic, educational and all other areas of policy.”

Technology commentator Sarah Putt noted on RNZ that there remains broad industry support for an increased voice for technology in Government and policy making circles.  Technology not only underpins our productive economy but also the growing tech sector itself is one of our largest export contributors.  Our Government representatives need a clear understanding of technology’s impacts, opportunities and in particular, the new levers to pull.  The  CTO, or better perhaps, a Chief Technology Advisor, able to draw on a broad range of inputs is still urgently needed.

Meanwhile, worldwide AI technology investment continues to advance rapidly and the delay of New Zealand’s CTO appointment should not hold up the work that needs to be done.  After our call earlier this year for a coordinated national strategy for  artificial intelligence, the AI Forum’s members begin this work in earnest at this Friday’s Working Groups Summit. #GSD.  We look forward to engaging with the CTO when s/he are in the role.

This week’s required reading is the recent McKinsey Global Institute report: Notes from the Frontier: Modeling the Impact of AI on the World Economy.  Comprehensive insights on AI’s large potential to contribute to global economic activity – but highlighting the challenges of widening gaps among countries, companies and workers.  New Zealand is positioned well in McKinsey’s model; in the same group as the United Kingdom, South Korea, Canada and Singapore.  Together we are described as, “economies with strong comparative strengths”.

There’s a busy fortnight of events coming up including the Data Analytics Summit, Canterbury Tech Summit and the Waikato Dialogue on Emerging Technology and International Security.  This week I am also attending a workshop in Christchurch with MBIE and regional Economic Development Agencies to explore ways to enable more adoption of AI by New Zealand businesses.

Best regards

Ben Reid
Executive Director

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If you missed it on television last week, watch This is AI on demand.  Attend The Waikato Dialogue:  The Implications of Emerging Disruptive Technologies for International Security and New Zealand on 20 September at the University of Waikato.

Join the monthly AI Show on Thursday in Auckland.  Attend the Robotic Process Automation Summit on 14 September in Auckland.  The 31st Australasian Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence  is 11-14 December in Wellington.  

Executive Council member, Frances Valintine’s Tech Futures Lab has launched the global education platform, Digital Suitcase.  Its aim is to help those whose careers are being disrupted by emerging technologies.  Learn how AI is improving student learning and providing support for teachers.  

Enter the Inclusive Images Competition here.  Help TechWomen thrive in the digital ecosystem.  Join the discussion on 25 September in Wellington. Speakers include Brooke Roberts, Elise Wei, Pearl Robbin and Ezel Kokcu.  Details here.  

In local news, machine learning improves forecasting of aftershocks following large quakes.  AUT researchers have developed an AI model, which can predict a person’s choices.  Check out this awesome school project!  Here is Karl, a local intermediate student, showing how to use machine learning to identify endangered animals from pictures.  Thanks to our friends @MBIEdigital for spotting this article on job creation from self-driving cars.

In international news, the California State Legislature passed a resolution officially endorsing the Asilomar AI Principles.  New research from McKinsey models the impact of AI on the world economy.   Meanwhile, Australian tech anthropologist, Genevieve Bell  asks critical questions about AI.  Watch how award winning SharkSpotter AI software combined with drones is saving Australian surfers and swimmers.  

The MIT Technology Review reports on future elections, chatbots and propaganda.  Read The World Economic Forum’s overview on AI in the financial ecosystem.  Meanwhile, pilot studies show that automation of mundane office tasks is saving thousands of human hours per year.

Helping to combat misinformation, algorithms trained to detect fake news report a 76 percent success rate.  Other fake news vigilantes like SurfSafe are using AI to perform reverse image searches to detect if an image has been altered.

Is your company ready to scale up with international growth? Enter the inaugural #TechRocketshipANZ Awards.  Categories include AI, clean growth, creativity, data, food, mobility, security and tech for change.  Entries close 23 November.

Meet Edmund Hillary Fellow and AI guru, Faisal Zahid who will be working in New Zealand on an open platform for intelligent insights in the areas of food security, health and education to improve social outcomes.  Read his story here.

Attend Blockworks 2018, 12 October in Auckland, showcasing the practical applications of Blockchain Technology.   Register for the New Zealand FinTech Summit on 29 November in Auckland.  

Entries for New Zealand’s longest running inventor competition, Bright Sparks close 4 October.  Register your internship listing with Summer of Tech now.  The Flux Accelerator is currently accepting applications.

Save these 2019 dates: Tech Marketers conference, 28 February, AI-Day  28 March and Techweek’19, 20-26 May, 2019.

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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.