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Ben Reid

International AI Community Gathering In San Francisco

Kia Ora

Last week, I was part of the delegation at the annual Partnership on AI (PAI) annual all-partners meeting in San Francisco. This diverse group of for-profit and non-profit member organisations gathered for two days – against a slightly apocalyptic backdrop of smoky haze covering the whole city from the fires raging further north in California. Thankfully, I hear that the burning is now largely under control and our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected.

It was a highly valuable conference to connect with others in the international AI community (including our friends from the 3A Institute in Australia), listen to leaders in AI technical and social fields and debate some of the most pressing issues facing the world today. For me the key takeaways related to international AI diplomacy- with Baidu being the first Chinese organisation to join the generally US-centric PAI – and the very real challenges of ensuring that AI related economic benefits are distributed fairly and don’t just lead to greater wealth inequality.

One of the highlights for me was an open and frank speaker panel featuring Kiwi Facebook executive Vaughan Smith which discussed the emerging effects of AI on media and democracy, including the ongoing fallout from Cambridge Analytica and US election manipulation scandals. It was instructive to understand the challenges that social media giants face attempting to automate moderation of literally billions of posts per day. Building algorithmic systems which can keep up with the huge diversity of cultures and languages across the world and effectively automate ethical value based decisions on a global scale is a data science and AI challenge in itself! (Discuss…)

Also this week, of international note, is the German Government’s announcement to invest 3 Billion Euros before 2025 to close the growing gap with the global AI leaders. On a per capita basis this would be equivalent to around NZ$285M investment for New Zealand. Obviously, there will be more subtleties to make a direct comparison, however it certainly gives a sense of the magnitude of investment occuring abroad.

As always there is plenty happening in AI around New Zealand, please review the links curated by our team below. Also, a reminder that the AI Forum is hosting a panel on AI in Business and Government at the 31st Australasian Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 11-14 December in Wellington. There is a 15% ticket discount for AI Forum members, please use the discount code: AIINDUSTRY.

Best regards

Ben Reid
Executive Director


Welcome to Martyn Rivett who has joined the AI Forum team. He is the Research Project Lead for the Forum’s next research report, Towards Our Intelligent Future due for publication next year.

Working on AI in health? Join the next NZHIT networking event on 6 December in Christchurch. Connect with Tech Marketers next month in Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland.

Join TechWomen for Practical tips on increasing diversity in tech companies on 26 November in Auckland. Why does digital inclusion matter? Read the new report, Out of the Maze: Building Digitally Inclusive Communities.

Do you want to know more about cashless payments, cryptocurrencies and Open Banking? The New Zealand FinTech Summit is next week in Auckland. For a 15% discount please use promo code FS18FN15.

In local news, ANZ’s digital assistant, Jamie has more than 12,000 customer conversations in its first 100 days. Read more on algorithms and why the public sector is reluctant to innovate. Congratulations to the Primer.AI team for successfully closing a $40m Series B funding round last week. We look forward to hearing more at AI-Day 2019 on 28 March in Auckland.

In international news, China’s state news agency has unveiled an AI news presenter. Singapore is training 2,000 workers in developing basic AI and is set to train thousands more within three years. From MIT Technology Review, check out this flowchart on types of machine learning. A machine learning model could soon tell you which restaurants are more likely to give you food poisoning!

Improved grading of prostate cancer is using deep learning based models to improve accuracy objectivity. In the United Kingdom, AI will play a crucial role in the National Health Service (NHS), with the opening of five centres to capitalise on AI’s potential benefits in healthcare. Meanwhile, the team behind medical app Streams, has joined Google. Read more about the opportunity for AI in health in New Zealand.  

In a recently published study, researchers created an artificial society to help find the causes of religious conflict. Using cognitive psychology AI agents were created to mimic human behaviour, including religious identification and group alignment. After programming the agents with different ages and ethnicities, the programme was run millions of times to identify conflicts.

21C Skills Lab is excited to introduce the 21C Skills Lab Prizegiving Challenge. Show students that ‘skills not scores’ are what count. Read why students need more skills than school prize givings recognise. Also, if you missed uLearn 2018, watch the keynote videos on Edtalks and access additional speaker resources.

Find out what’s new for Techweek next year. General event submissions for Techweek19 open in January, but if you’d like to be part of the Programme Highlights apply before 14 December. Use the Techweek19 Discussion Forum to start planning your event.

Entries for the 2019 Hi-Tech Awards open on 3 December. Join the launch events on 28 November in Auckland, 5 December in Wellington and 6 December in Christchurch.

Is your company ready to scale up with international growth? Entries for #TechRocketshipANZ close 23 November. Applications for the AI Impact Challenge , close 22 January.

Ready to export? Grow your business faster internationally. Registrations are now open for 2019 Export Essentials workshops throughout New Zealand.

Save these 2019 event dates; Tech Marketers conference on 28 February, AI-Day on 28 March and Techweek 20-26 May. The Hi-Tech Awards Gala Dinner is 24 May in Auckland.

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.