Ben Reid

Local AI ecosystem continues rapid growth

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This week we released the updated New Zealand AI Ecosystem Map with over 60 new organisations added in this iteration.  This brings the total number of organisations we have identified to 194, up from 104 when we first released in January.  This is a clear signal that local AI investment and adoption is growing quickly.  Check out the latest version here.

It is very encouraging to hear that tech giant  Baidu will be the first Chinese organisation to join the international Partnership on AI (PAI).  Given New Zealand’s strong links with both the US and China, it is important that there is broad international representation in addressing the ongoing challenges surrounding  AI ethics, safety, transparency and fairness.  PAI Executive Director Terah Lyons remarked, “For the Partnership on AI to achieve its mission, we need to involve a broad range of stakeholders, from across all geographies.”

Through the AI Forum, New Zealand is one the first 10 countries worldwide who are currently involved as members of the PAI.  We have a number of participants in PAI working groups and I am looking forward to attending the PAI All-Partners meeting in San Francisco next month to continue to strengthen Aotearoa links with the international AI community.

Closer to home, it was a privilege to speak recently at CORE Education’s annual uLearn conference in Auckland where I highlighted the significant opportunities in New Zealand for AI to deliver efficiencies in education and transform traditional learning methods.  I’m constantly asked for pointers on what are the best ways to start learning AI and Machine Learning.  There are plenty of resources available online, but this link is a comprehensive place to start, My Curated List of AI and Machine Learning Resources from Around the Web.  Also,  for those in Auckland keen to learn more about AI and gain hands on experience, check out the new Meetup group School Of AI – Auckland.

Hot off the press, the  Government Chief Data Steward and the Government Chief Digital Officer today released the highly anticipated Algorithm Assessment Report, which is the output of the recent Algorithm Stocktake exercise carried out across Government. We’re still digesting the report but one key finding is that “Humans, rather than computers, review and decide on almost all significant decisions made by government agencies. As agencies continue to develop new algorithms, it’s important to preserve appropriate human oversight”.

The AI Forum has grown significantly since our establishment in June 2017.  As a membership based organisation we are moving towards electing members to our Executive Council and Annual Meeting. That means election season is now upon us and we are now seeking nominations

Finally, I’m looking forward to holding the first AI Forum event in Dunedin next Tuesday hosted by SIGNAL ICT Grad School.  We have leading AI speakers, Joy LiddicoatJames MaclaurinSteven Mills and Amy Harman.  The panel will be facilitated by Director of the University of Otago’s Centre for Law and Policy in Emerging Technologies, Colin Gavaghan.  If you’re based in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch, please consider the trip South for this amazing speaker lineup.

Best regards

Ben Reid
Executive Director


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EVENTS AND NEWS

Join us on 30 October in Dunedin for the AI Forum’s next Connect event.  Please save the date for our Annual Meeting on 29 November in Auckland.

The final AI Show for the year is on 7 November in Auckland.  Join the AI in Health Symposium, part of the HiNZ’s digital health conference, 21-23 November in Wellington.


Join FinTechNZ and learn how to protect your Intellectual Property at their next Connect Event on 31 October in Wellington and 1 November in Auckland.  Register for the New Zealand FinTech Summit on 29 November in Auckland.

Attend the Auckland ICT Graduate School’s  Fundamentals of Machine Learning and AI on 15 November.   Also, the Fundamentals of Data Visualisation and Statistical Analysis on 19 November.


In local news,  Soul Machines has announced a strategic investment by Daimler Financial Services.   Professor Nikola Kasabov has published, Time-Space, Spiking Neural Networks and Brain Inspired Artificial Intelligence (Springer 2018).  In other news, four Government departments are trialling digital assistants.  Read more here.  Plus, Xero’s Tony Stewart on AI and the challenge of trust.

In international news, Amazon dumped its AI hiring tool after it became sexist!  The Famine Action Mechanism is predicting famine, allowing for proactive intervention before crisis strikes.  Missed the #AM2018Bali event, Disruptive Technology and Inclusive Development – What Works?  Watch the replay here.


Victoria University PhD student Victor Anton who has investigated how to use AI to recognise New Zealand bird songs has launched www.wildlife.ai to help promote the use of AI for environmental purposes.

Huawei has released the AI Developer Enablement Programme with a plan to invest $140 million in AI talent education.  Read how the Blockchain could break big tech’s hold on AI.


Entries for the 2019 Hi-Tech Awards open on 3  December.  Join the launch events on 28 November in Auckland5 December in Wellington and 6 December in Christchurch.  Save the date for the Awards Gala Dinner on 24 May in Auckland.

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots has released a new video, Facing Fully Autonomous Weapons which raises questions of accountability and judgement.  Read more on banning killer robots here.


The Edmund Hillary Fellowship presents New Frontiers 4-6 November in Wellington.  Share, explore and co-create solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.  Applications close on 26 October.  In case you missed it, Marketplace, the digital procurement channel for Government, is now live.

Is your company ready to scale up with international growth? Enter the inaugural #TechRocketshipANZ Awards.  Make the most of Expo 2020 Dubai, with NZTE’s Gulf Opportunities Showcase, last days this week!  It’s also not too late to register your internship listing with Summer of Tech now.


Join us and the New Zealand Tech Alliance at our end of year celebrations, 29 November in Auckland and 4 December in Wellington.  More details to follow.   The 31st Australasian Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence  is 11-14 December in Wellington.

Save these 2019 event dates; Tech Marketers conference on 28 February, AI-Day on 28 March and Techweek 20-26 May.  If you’re considering running an event during Techweek19, here’s three things you need to think about.


It’s election season and we are now seeking Executive Council nominations!  

Ben Reid Ben heads up the AI Forum of New Zealand - working to harness the power of AI to help create a prosperous and inclusive future New Zealand. The AI Forum brings together business, universities and the government to connect, promote and advance the national AI ecosystem.