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AI Forum

AI Adoption in Aotearoa, Robots and the Future of Work, Visualising a Fruit Fly Brain

Kia Ora Readers

Wow, this has been a busy few weeks in AI!

Boosting AI Adoption in Aotearoa

We had some lively discussions at our two recent panel events in Auckland and Wellington exploring AI Adoption in Aotearoa – check out the details here. Many thanks to all our panelists who contributed and also to our venue hosts for the events, Victoria University and IBM!

A Fresh Kiwi Voice on the Future of Work

I am currently enjoying the excellent new book Jobs, Robots and Us: Why the Future of Work in New Zealand is In Our Hands by Washington based New Zealand economist Kinley Salmon. It’s a comprehensively researched, yet very accessible, read through a subject which continues to exercise minds around the world.

Highly recommended.

Most refreshing is to hear a Millennial viewpoint on this topic, as Kinley writes in the introduction:

“While it is my generation’s future at stake, it is largely not my generation writing about it…It will be young Kiwis like me who will be around in this future; we will be alive but (we are told) unemployed. I wrote this book because it is my future, and the future of young New Zealanders like me.”

Hopefully we can schedule a speaking event with Kinley next time he’s back in New Zealand.

Australian and New Zealand AI reports released

This week, some important regional AI reports were released by scientific research bodies:

Across the ditch, ACOLA published The effective and ethical development of artificial intelligence: An opportunity to improve our wellbeing. A number of AI Forum members contributed to this report including Koren O’Brien of ANZ.

This is accompanied by a sister publication from the Royal Society Te Apārangi The Age of Artificial Intelligence in Aotearoa.

Time to wake up?

Speaking of Australia… like New Zealand it’s taking a while to develop  an AI strategy. Author Michael Evans argues passionately for movement in Wake Up Australia.

Laws for LAWS

Professors Michael Winikoff, Stephen Cranefield and Alistair Knott from AI Forum members University of Otago and Victoria University of Wellington contribute to the ongoing debate around Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) in An area in which we can take moral leadership.

Data Sharing Agreements

There are plenty of organisations that want to work together with shared datasets. However, the logistics of creating data sharing agreements often takes months of negotiations and can often stall or completely stop AI projects which need the data to get started. Microsoft has published three draft data sharing agreements for consideration by the data science and machine learning community, each designed to address a specific data sharing challenge:

  • Open Use of Data Agreement
  • Computational Use of Data Agreement
  • Data Use Agreement for Open AI Model Development

AI Weirdness – the Book!

Hopefully many of you are regular followers of Janelle Shane, an AI researcher who is constantly finding funny and weird outputs from AI. For example, recently Keanu Reaves was turned into a walking tree by GauGAN. The good news is that Janelle has a book coming out later this year.

The Great Hack

New on Netflix is an exposé of last year’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, The Great Hack. It is highly watchable and entertaining, raising important issues regarding personal data privacy to a wider audience, but could  explore potential solutions in more depth.

Stepping Towards AGI?

Microsoft has announced a multi-year, US$1billion investment partnership with OpenAI to build a platform to create new AI technologies and deliver on the promise of beneficial artificial general intelligence (AGI).

Meanwhile, GoogleAI researchers have just announced that they have created an Interactive, Automated 3D Reconstruction of a Fruit Fly Brain. A complete fruit fly brain has ~250,000 neurons which is captured in 40 trillion pixels. The human brain has ~86,000,000,000 neurons  => 13,760,000,000,000,000,000‬ (13.7 quadrillion) pixels by my back of the envelope calculation, means human brain reconstruction can’t be too far away…? Sci fi buffs may enjoy Neal Stephenson’s latest book Fall, or Dodge in Hell which explores the implications of this approach to connectomics.

Finally, I’ve been hugely encouraged by the response from AI Forum members to a call from the University of Canterbury Masters of Data Science course which has an unexpected surge in student numbers this year. They are looking for partners to provide students with project work or internships. So far we’ve put over 20 organisations in touch but if you have a data science project, please contact Nick Ward to discuss.

Nga mihi nui


Do you have a data science project? AI Forum member the University of Canterbury has an unexpected surge in student numbers and are looking for partnerships to provide students with project work or internships. Please contact Nick Ward

Welcome to new member SAS – delivering over 40 years of analytics innovation. The SAS IoT analytics platform includes embedded in-memory AI techniques. Their vision is to transform data into a world of intelligence.


The New Zealand Government has recruited independent advisors for its Data Ethics Advisory Group. The group will help Government agencies use data appropriately and effectively. Read more.

Which pitch will win? Join NZSA at the annual An Angel at my Table event on 13 August in Auckland. Meet fellow Tech Marketers on 21 August in Auckland.

Attend the New Zealand Esri User Conference, 12-14 August in Auckland. Join the NZGDC19, 4-6 September in Wellington.

Attend SWITCH Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology 11-13 November. The 2019 NZ Cyber Security Summit is 16 October in Wellington.

Applications for the Callaghan Innovation R&D Experience Grantsclose 31 August. Callaghan’s  RFP for incubators with deep tech commercialisation experience closes 4 October.

The International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems is being held in Auckland in May, 2020. The AI for Good Global Summit is also scheduled for May.

Have you joined the free online platform Scale-Up 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.