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AI Forum

Open Our Data, Not Our Borders!

Kia ora,

Amidst the current pandemic, countries around the globe have scrambled to action with hopeful and inventive AI tools.  Some of these tools can not only diagnose faster, cheaper and more accurately, but help us cope with the wide ranging ramifications.  Locally, I have heard from many of our members, willing and able to offer help, but are struggling to be heard amongst the noise.

Many, including me, are frustrated knowing AI and machine learning (ML) can assist in countless ways, on the frontlines, in recovery planning and prevention.  The co-dependency between data and AI is starkly highlighting the real risk of our immaturity in sharing data and the unnecessary restriction of AI’s abilities.  We have to safely open our data, not our borders!

“ML and AI can support the response against COVID-19 in a broad set of domains” and “scalable approaches to data sharing using open repositories will drastically accelerate the development of new models and unlock data for the public interest,” reported the World Health Organization (WHO).

As the proud owner of an English stiff upper lip, I am inspired by Kiwi stories of resilience and in particular, the unexpected ways AI can prove a champion of our recovering economy.  Halfway through lockdown, I would like to know how you are adapting and most importantly, how we can help!  We have been considering what the AI Forum can do that is most helpful and impactful and plans are underway.  One thing is very clear, the need for facilitated, curated, trusted connections to others and pertinent communication flows within our ecosystem and between sectors.

We want to hear from you and learn how lockdown is affecting you? Please tell us which of these initiatives would be most valuable to you?

  • AI Forum Marketplace – Listed needs and services  

A place where we actively help connect the fulfilment of need for innovative support or service. These could include contact tracing, containment modelling, conversational AI or customer service AI enhancements to help cope with overwhelmed or stressed call centres for example. How can your organisation or team help New Zealand recover faster and better? Are you a company that helps design and build AI related tools and want to offer your time and expertise in goodwill?

  • Talent Exchange – Facilitating the exchange of AI and Data talents

Unfortunately, many organisations are having to make talented team members redundant.  Can we help connect employees to potential employers to help keep our talent in New Zealand, especially across sectors with skill and talent shortages?

  • Accelerating the build of a trusted New Zealand AI brand

Would your organisation consider signing a commitment or pledge for the creation of trusted, quality and ethical AI? Using our shift in productivity to build upon our AI brand is only going to speed recovery and future prosperity.  What are your thoughts?

  • AI for small businesses campaign

Many local Kiwi businesses, sole traders, or small enterprises have heard something about AI but tend to think it is only for large corporates. Small businesses make up a large proportion of our economy and the Government is interested in how to help encourage or lead our smaller business sector into greater tech adoption, especially to help enhance productivity. Please get in touch and share where you have seen or experienced value after adopting AI for such businesses.

  • AI Q&A Surgery

An opportunity for New Zealanders to join a Q&A session with expert AI Forum members to tackle a broad range of subjects within the AI family.

  • AI Forum Curated Library – a central source of information you can trust

Do you have extra time, or your home office is quieter than your work office? Perhaps you have wanted to take an online course or read up on something? With help from our member organisations, we can compile a central  library of reading, learning resources, publications and case studies. We would also like to share the great resources our members have been creating to help soothe much uncertainty so please do send anything you would like to share.

Please let me know your opinions, thoughts and views for each of these initiatives.  If there is something you would like to see that we haven’t included, please let me know directly ( or use the survey link below.

Our Government would like us to help take the pulse of the sectors we reach, so they can better understand the real impact of our current climate and where they can best support and assist.

In other news, last month, the AI Forum published Trustworthy AI in Aotearoa – The AI Principles.  The principles provide overarching high-level guidance for anyone involved in designing or developing AI.  The purpose of the guidelines is to prompt AI stakeholders to start thinking about how to incorporate processes and measures to work towards ethical development of AI.  Developers can follow these principles and better understand risks and unintended consequences.  

We will continue to raise awareness around mindful, safe and ethical AI construction and use.  This is especially important at a time where we can see some authoritarian countries using the pandemic to ‘install’ unethical uses of AI methodologies. 

However, our newly published principles are in good company with the recent launch of the OECD AI Policy Observatory aiming to empower, foster and monitor the responsible development of trustworthy AI systems.

Kia whakatōmuri te haere whakamua.


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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.