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Ben Reid

Accelerating the uptake of tech in the NZ economy

Kia ora Readers,

I hope that you enjoyed either (a) a relaxing extended break over the Easter/Anzac Day holidays or (b) a productive week at work while everyone else was away!

…Which puts me in mind of the Productivity Commission’s new inquiry into Technology and the Future of Work. As trailed in the last newsletter, the Commission’s team have released a detailed and accessible Issues Paper which articulates four potential scenarios for how new technologies will affect work in the future. In positive ways by enabling us to do more, quicker – but also creating new challenges by rapid automation of the tasks that make up jobs today. It’s encouraging to see foresight thinking about the impact of technology change starting to happen in Government, take a read of the paper and provide your feedback. I recently argued that accelerating the uptake of tech in the New Zealand economy is crucial. What policy settings will be needed to actively target a future with more tech and more jobs?

Here’s a roundup of other recent New Zealand and international AI developments:

AI in business

AI Forum member, Spark has managed to get 70 percent of customer contacts onto digital channels and achieved a 20 percent reduction in contact centre work effort, all thanks to chatbots.

Learn what AI is doing for business in this article in NZBusiness Magazine.

Calling all New Zealand AI businesses! Make sure that you are registered in the new Scale-Up New Zealand database. Scale-Up was recently launched by Callaghan Innovation. You can use Scale-Up to search for business partners, promote yourself and explore New Zealand’s innovation ecosystem for free.

AI ethics

The European Commission’s High-Level Expert Group on AI have presented their ethics guidelines for trustworthy artificial intelligence. Read more.

The Partnership on AI released their first research report on the risks and limitations of algorithmic risk assessment in the criminal justice system. Learn more here.

US VC firm Andreessen Horowitz partner Benedict Evans wrote a comprehensive article on understanding bias in AI.

A reminder that US based Kiwi Mary Wareham from Human Rights Watch is currently touring New Zealand to talk about Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS). This week she will be providing a briefing to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee, and giving two more public lectures on 1 May in Wellington and 3 May in Auckland. Come along to find out more about the latest developments, and how New Zealand can play a part,  on this issue of global significance.

Finally, please take the time to explore the incredible array of top quality events as part of TechWeek19 which runs throughout the country 20–26 May. There are many events discussing AI and other emerging technologies including TechWeekTV: Real World AI in 2019 – practical insights from New Zealand businesses implementing Machine Learning solutions.

Ngā mihi nui

Ben Reid
Executive Director


Attend Automation for Business on 23 May in Auckland. Discussion includes intelligent automation to streamline processes, increase productivity and improve profitability. Please email us for an AI Forum 15% discount code.

Attend the T-Tech19 conference, 6–7 May in Christchurch. Attend the 2019 IEEE Congress on Evolutionary Computation, 10–13 June in Wellington. The New Zealand Esri User Conference is 12–14 August in Auckland.

Save the date for Identity Conference 2019 – Identity as taonga: now and in the future, 26–27 August in Wellington, exploring the concept of personal digital identity and what this means for individuals and organisations. The Canterbury Tech Summit is 12 September. The 2019 NZ Cyber Security Summit is 15 October in Wellington.

Sign up as a mentor and inspire girls into tech. ShadowTech is on 23 May in Gisborne, 7 June in Auckland, 11 June in Christchurch, 14 June in Palmerston North, 18 June in Dunedin and 27 June in Hamilton. Hack Tairawhiti 2.0 returns 17–19 May in Gisborne and is also looking for mentors to help companies accelerate ideas.

In local news, Tech Leaders last week reported they are already seeing the impact of automation. They support the pioneering work of the Productivity Commission to try to better understand the impact of tech changes on the future of work in New Zealand.

US based Kiwi Mary Wareham from Human Rights Watch is currently touring New Zealand to talk about Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) Remaining public lectures include 1 May in Wellington and 3 May in Auckland.

Considering a social enterprise model for your AI business? Social enterprise models have the potential to innovate and create value for triple or quadruple bottom line. For more, read the Impact Initiative’s Structuring for Impact: Evolving legal structure for Business in New Zealand report.

Earlier this year, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty predicted that, because of AI, 100 percent of jobs will be different. Read the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO) Tech Trends – Artificial Intelligence report. Also, in case you missed it, videos from AI-DAY 2019 are now online.

In Australian news, Labor has chosen Melbourne to be the home of a planned $4 million national centre of excellence for AI if they get into office. Automation and AI could provide the Australian economy with a $2.2 trillion boost.

In other news, drones are to deliver life saving vaccines, blood and drugs across Ghana. Twelve million people will benefit, in the largest scheme of its kind.

International journal of science, Nature, reports AI researchers across all academic career stages are feeling the lure of industry, thanks to higher salaries and perks such as access to large data sets and computing resources.

More on understanding bias in AI, from Benedict Evans, including AI bias scenarios and management. Centuries ago, the printing press revolutionised written communication. Is AI going to be as influential?

Attend the official Techweek19 launch event on 20 May in Auckland or join the live webcast. Attend three AI Debates on AutomationEducation and Employment at Victoria University of Wellington.

Join EdTechNZ and TechWomen on 13 June in Wellington20 June in Auckland and 26 June in Christchurch to discuss how to achieve diversity in the tech sector. Registrations opening soon.

Join AI Forum’s Ben Reid on 22 May for Techweek TV’s webcast, Real World AI in 2019 – practical insights from New Zealand businesses implementing Machine Learning solutions. Don’t forget to secure your tickets to the NZ Hi-Tech Awards Gala Dinner on 24 May in Auckland.  Explore the Maori Tech Showcase on 21 May in Hamilton.

Also during Techweek19, attend Emerging Tech in Health Symposium 2019 in Christchurch. The symposium focuses on better healthcare through data analytics and exploring the digital future of clinical practice.

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.