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AI Forum

Wellbeing, Digital Inclusion and Broad AI

[Ben Reid is away this week, so Emma Naji, CEO of Wellington-based AI Advisory, has kindly stepped up to guest edit our newsletter. Thanks Emma!]

Kia ora Readers

Recently I had the opportunity to take part in a discussion with school students at the screening of “More Human than Human” as part of the recent DocEdge film festival. It was fantastic to answer questions from the young students which were actually much more technical and cultural than I expected – some of the kids asked better questions than some of the adults I have met ;-). Very impressed with the management of the event by Mathew Donaldson and the team; a rewarding experience all round.

Also recently I had the pleasure of joining three experts on the Increasing AI Adoption in Aotearoa speaking panel, which was full of insightful discussion. I am a great believer in the power of positive, local storytelling, particularly in the challenge to improve AI adoption. So it gives me huge joy to share with you examples of New Zealand’s wellbeing and digital inclusion progress.  

Last week, Ana Arriola was one of six global thought leaders who spoke at The Future of the Future in Auckland. Ana was recently appointed to head a team devoted to AI + Research & Search at Microsoft and notes “the risk is that any progress that has been made in societal attitudes over the last 65 years will evaporate” describing the creep as a recolonisation – not in physical geopolitics but in the digital realm.” Inclusive AI is essential across society and culture. “Indigenous People/Māori need to be a part of the new technological revolution now and begin to get involved. If we don’t we will be just another negative statistic,” says Karaitiana Taiuru in Māori cultural considerations with Artificial Intelligence and Robotics

It’s fantastic news that The University of Auckland is investing $4 million in AI For Good led by returned Kiwi Professor Michael Witbrock. Let’s hope there is much more investment to come. Michael features in the first AI Forum Podcast in discussion with Ben Reid here.

Michael points out that New Zealand has often shaped human civilisation for the better, leading the world in fair wages and votes for women. He presents AI as a way to lead humanity towards a better future. Further evidence of New Zealand’s predilection to shape a better society can be seen in NZHIT’s vision of digital technology enabling world class health and wellbeing for all. 

Meanwhile, how many executive teams across New Zealand now have  a Chief Data Officer, or at the very least someone accountable for data across the organisation? I will be joining the Institute of Director’s Wellington Governance Group this afternoon where I will be  exploring this in more detail.

I read with interest how 25 years ago, when Superintendent Rob Cochrane joined the New Zealand Police, he could not have imagined the part AI and digital humans would play in policing! As acting CIO, he says the mission of New Zealand Police is to be the safest country in the world and technology has a serious role in optimising what the Police do. Currently they are exploring proof of concepts with Soul Machines around deploying a digital human police officer and the use of intuitive forms.

In other news:

Thanks AI Forum for inviting me to take up this weeks newsletter quill.

Nga mihi nui

Emma Naji
AI Advisory


New Zealand owned and operated Mitton Electronet provide electrical design and specialist services to the power industry. Electronet staff have studied artificial intelligence and machine learning at the University of Canterbury and are actively exploring innovative applications of AI for the power industry.

How embedded is design thinking in your organisation?  Cognition empowers organisations to innovate and thrive by integrating a design thinking approach in the development of mobile and digital solutions.


In the first episode of our new podcast series, AI Forum’s Ben Reid discusses the AI Opportunity for New Zealand with Professor Michael Witbrock.  Michael is an AI veteran who has recently returned to New Zealand to build the  Broad AI Lab at the University of Auckland.  Listen to the podcast.

The 2019 NZ Cyber Security Summitand the 2019 NZ Digital Identity Summit will be held in Wellington on 16 October.  Attend SWITCH Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology 11-13 November.

Next month Queen Maxima will launch The Netherlands first AI course for children.  ICYMI here’s four ways to increase AI adoption in New Zealand.  Meanwhile, The Horizon 2020-funded EPIC project has released its sixth in a series of policy briefs.  Plus, here’s a 20 year community road map for AI research in the USA.

We have received special thanks from Doc Edge Schools.  Recently, several AI Forum members joined Doc Edge Schools to view the documentary More Human Than Human and facilitated a post-screening Q&A on AI.  Read more.

Published yesterday, read Interactive Aotearoa – driving growth and wellbeing through interactive media.  Then join the NZGDC19, 4-6 September in Wellington.

Students from Ormiston Junior College in Auckland want to know more about AI in schools.  Can you help these students explore AI so they can then share knowledge too. Please contact Nick Pattison.

Meet fellow Tech Marketers on 21 August in Auckland and Wellington.  Join InsurTech Connect to discuss better customer outcomes on 22 August in Auckland.

Don’t forget, AI Forum member University of Canterbury is looking for partnerships to provide students with data project work or internships.  Contact Nick Ward.

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.

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.