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AI Forum

Kia Kaha Aotearoa

Kia Ora Readers,

Our thoughts and compassion go out to everybody who has been affected by the devastating events in Christchurch last Friday.

There are a number of opportunities to donate, attend a vigil or provide support to the victims and their families – however, please also be aware of Christchurch tragedy-related scams and attacks currently in circulation.

It will take a long, long time to come to terms with what has happened. But the way our country has responded in the last week makes me so proud to be a Kiwi. These are tragic but unifying times.


Getting back to work on Monday was hard, but our team’s focus is now on getting everything ready for AI-DAY 2019 next week at the ASB Waterfront Theatre in Auckland. The amazing event line up includes inspirational expert speakers from all around New Zealand, the US, China and covering all aspects of the theme AI Is Everywhere.

This week we added a final panel discussion on Thursday, 28 March:


Journalist and commentator Russell Brown will moderate a panel including AI-DAY Speakers Sean Gourley, Dave Heiner, MC Cassie Roma, Nobel Prize winning disarmament leader Thomas Nash and other guests.

The new panel discussion will be in addition to an earlier one on the same day discussing Privacy and Data in the Age of AI, a debate which itself will have changed after last week.

We are looking forward to a conference full of constructive, reasoned debate with some big ideas as to how New Zealand can harness AI and other new technologies for our future.

Event registrations have been filling up rapidly this week but there are still a few conference passes available so if you haven’t already, book your place alongside 600+ leaders from every sector here.

Also in advance of the #AIDAY19 conference, I sat down with Justin Flitter to review the current state ofAI in New Zealand and look at the potential for our future. This is the first in the Idealog magazine #AIShowNZ podcast series 2019, I invite you to take a listen!

Finally, two recent reports for your AI reading list:

  • The State of AI 2019: Divergence. Insightful analysis by MMC Ventures on the latest AI technology, how corporate AI strategies are diverging and a focus on European investment.
  • Published last week, an IDC study predicts AI will double the rate of innovation improvements and improve employee productivity gains by 1.5 times in New Zealand by 2021.The report analyses New Zealand’s readiness for AI and also identifies the three top challenges for business leaders adopting AI in 2019:
    • a lack of thought leadership and leadership commitment to invest in AI
    • lack of skills, resources and continuous learning programs
    • and lack of knowledge on how to deploy and monitor AI solutions

I look forward to connecting with you at AI-DAY next week.

Kia kaha,

Ben Reid
Executive Director

PS: If you enjoy our updates, please share it with your team and invite them to subscribe here for their own free copy.


Following AI-DAY there is a workshop series on 3 and 4 April in Auckland. You will learn best practice and deep dive into the tools and platforms used to create and develop AI systems. An AI-DAY Workshop series pass is just $245 for AI Forum members ($50 discount applied).

Attend Automation for Business on 23 May in Auckland. Discussion includes intelligent automation to streamline processes, increase productivity and improve profitability. For an AI Forum 15% discount, please use this promo code: MC8WSK

Attend Bytes or Bites – Digital Healthcare on 28 March in Auckland. Discussion includes robotic surgery, AI and digital self-management. Join Intelligent Transport Systems New Zealand’s (ITSNZ) T-Tech19 conference, 6–7 April in Christchurch.

Attend MobileTECH 2019 on 3–4 April in Rotorua. The annual Great AI debate is 9 May in Auckland. Attend the 2019 IEEE Congress on Evolutionary Computation, 10–13 June in Wellington. Registrations open soon.

In local news, it’s great to see the Cacophony Project continue to advance their machine vision AI work to support invasive pest eradication. Rush CEO Pavan Vyas discusses the potential for AI and which tech will revolutionise the world in the next few years.

Last month, the AI Forum and FinTechNZ met in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to discuss the impact of AI on customer experience in the financial services industry. Read the highlights here.

In other news, the Australian Government (CSIRO) is investing in a new research centre for robotics and autonomous systems.

Facial recognition is making the news again as some images are being used without consent. Meanwhile, machine learning may help detect and slow Alzheimer’s disease.

Canada’s new national directive includes the intersection of ethics and AI, but is not without issue. Read more.

Apple is bolstering its AI talent with the acquisition of Laserlike. Plus, meet Bookbot, Mountain View Library’s newest helper!

Also at Techweek19, help break gender stereotypes and encourage teenagers you know to attend TechGirlsNZ, 25 May in Auckland.

Meet the Partnership on AI (PAI) team at London Tech Week, 10–15 June. The flagship event The AI Summit is 12–13 June. The PAI has also announced the project, Positive Futures from AI. Spanning future workshops, conferences, events and reports, its aim is to collect diverse visions of what ‘beneficial AI’ means. Please outline your thoughts on positive visions of AI futures and submit them here.

Join Professor Rangi Matamua for Ko Matariki e ārau ana, The Gathering of Matariki. The best selling author will highlight connections between culture and science in an event series throughout New Zealand and Australia from 11 April. The New Zealand Digital Skills Hui is being held on 27 March in Wellington and will focus on driving policy, programmes and investment.

Submissions for the Call for Code 2019 Challenge open next week and close 29 April. Submissions on theCopyright Act Review close 5 April and Techweek19 event submissions close 8 April. Lightning Lab Tourismand the Edmund Hillary Fellowshipare now accepting applications.

Attend the 2019 Hi-Tech Awardsfinalists announcement in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch on 27 March. Secure your tickets to the Gala Dinner on 24 May in Auckland, during Techweek19.

If you have a content suggestion for our knowledge hub, please let us know. Be part of Scale-Up New Zealand, a free online platform for New Zealand’s innovation ecosystem. Everything you need to know is here.

Our next AI Forum Working Group Summit is on 27 March in Auckland. If you would like to join a working group, please contact us. Open to AI Forum members, if you are unsure of your membership status, please check or join now.

Photo: Governor-General of New Zealand, Dame Patsy Reddy, lays flowers for the victims of the Christchurch mosque shootings at Hagley Park. Source: Governor General of New Zealand

AI Forum The AI Forum brings together New Zealand’s artificial intelligence community, working together to harness the power of AI technologies to enable a prosperous, inclusive and thriving future New Zealand.