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AI Forum

The AI Honey Bee Dance

Kia ora readers,

Congratulations to Megan Tapsell and Louise Taylor for being elected and appointed as our new Chair and Deputy Chair; I am elated with this partnership. We also welcome new members to our Executive Council Frith TweedieEduard Liebenberger and Paulo Gottgtroy who have been elected to join our force for AI good! We’re also hopeful our next council announcement will include our first dedicated Māori seat. I adore the aperture ability of our 2020 Executive Council.

As this is the last newsletter of 2019, I am going to make a bold prediction! As China welcomes 2020 as the year of the Rat, I believe 2020 is going to be New Zealand’s year of AI including NZ Government AI!

Standards New Zealand Sector Engagement Lead Natalie Bowie is rightly calling for more active participation in international standard’s creation. 

“As a trading nation, it is critical for New Zealand to be at the table to ensure that what is being added will not put us on the international back foot of trade,” she says. 

Inspired by Natalie’s words, let’s talk a little more about being invited to the proverbial table. The Productivity Commission has released two draft reports: Employment, labour markets and income, and New Zealand, technology and productivity and you’re invited to make submissions on these reports by 17 February 2020. Our AI Talent Working Group are already working on their submission which I am looking forward to reading.

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the AI Forum are collaborating and facilitating the Re-imagining Regulation in the Age of AI project with the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (WEF) on how governments, business and society can work together to meet the challenge of regulating AI. This community collaboration continues, on course for an intriguing, worldwide case study exploring the methodologies and processes regulating parts of AI might entail. As a firm supporter of such exploration through case studies, I will keep you updated in the months ahead.

Statistics New Zealand have recently released the Draft Algorithm Charter for consultation and the AI Forum will be formally responding to offer provision assistance before the 31 December deadline. Meanwhile, our friends across the ditch are making progress with the recent release of an AI commissioned roadmap and are working on their AI ethics framework.

On the subject of ethics, we will be publishing the hard work of our Law, Ethics and Society Working Group in the New Year. They have crafted an eloquent and succinct set of high level guiding principles for AI development and use, Trustworthy AI in Aotearoa New Zealand, along with a supporting information, background and approach to this work.

It certainly feels like 2020 is going to be the Government’s year in AI and for helping to stamp that special New Zealand brand on our AI!

Finally, and very importantly, I would like to acknowledge the unsung heroes of the AI Forum, our working groups. These groups of professionals and academics from our member organisations, volunteer their time, knowledge and expertise across key subjects of AI with selfless dedication. 

Our working group member honey bees are committing precious spare time, connecting across many parts of New Zealand and sectors, to contribute to the advancement of New Zealand’s AI ecosystem. There is no salary or public acclaim, yet they drag fractions of time from their busy days, careers and lives to contribute to the greater good.

As some of you will know, I have been buzzing around our groups learning, gaining opinions and recommendations. From one honey bee to another – I will be dancing in a circle (hopefully not a figure eight) early next year and bringing some much needed waggle to our hive! I want to show off your efforts more formally and create a tribute honeycomb wall (yes, I’m getting honey drunk!) profiling your contributions, length of service and field of expertise. Thank you for persevering, for consistently showing up and contributing with such determination. Thank you for your patience and loyalty and I simply can’t wait to showcase you on a grander scale to New Zealand and further afield in 2020!

Have a fabulous Christmas and New Year and enjoy the precious time with friends and family. Once Welly clears out, I will be using the opportunity to ride a scooter for the very first time, safe in the knowledge I can embarrass myself with little evidence of my clumsiness!

Kia whakatōmuri te haere whakamua.

Toodle pip!


SAVE THE DATE! We are in the final throes of design for our next AI conference ‘Aotearoa AI 2020’ Towards our Intelligent Future Summit on 30 April. The why and the how for doing the do with AI; research backed, innovation hacked. It’s a new style for us, in that we will focus on the practical, relatable, inspiring, grounded and empowering aspects of AI.


Kōkiri is currently accepting applications for its 2020 programme. It is focused on accelerating early stage Māori led startups. Applications close 2 February.

Entries for the NZ Hi-Tech Awards are now open. Save the date for the 2020 awards gala dinner on 22 May in Wellington.

Attend Future Government 2020 on 25 March in Wellington for more on serving New Zealand through a digital public service.

In local news, the national robotics champs recently powered its way into Palmerston North. Lynker Analytics is modelling impervious surfaces with deep learning. Learn more about how smart translation is supporting te reo Māori.

Applications are also open for the 2020 National Fieldays Innovations. Register now for MobileTECH Ag 2020. Explore the new agritech story, Powered by Place

Register for MedCan 2020 on 19 March in Auckland. The AI for Good Global Summit is 4-8 May. The International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems is 9-13 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.