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Increasing AI Adoption in Aotearoa New Zealand – Wellington

Join the AI Forum for an expert panel discussion: What can be done to increase AI adoption in Aotearoa New Zealand? 

Also, Executive Director, Ben Reid will present a preview of the key findings from the AI Forum’s forthcoming research report series: Towards Our Intelligent Future, which examines AI adoption in New Zealand across diverse industry sectors and explores AI Policy settings related to society, investment, data, talent and Māori attitudes to AI.

Our Panel

Emma Naji, AI Advisory

Striving to empower companies to identify the appropriate and balanced use of AI within existing environments. Emma’s career has mainly focused on either creating new tech start-ups (one of the UK’s 1st commercial drone companies and Intela AI here in Welly) or translating and personalising new tech for businesses to benefit efficiently – Emma understands how difficult, but important change and growth is. She sees a strong need to educate, share positive and relative AI use cases while highlighting common misconceptions and misdirection’s that are biasing decisions to combine human common sense with appropriate technology advances. She believes the wrong, inaccurate messages and hype has led to bleeding edge distraction and confusion – the biggest cause of the uncertainty most feel in the face of AI.


Christopher Laing, Xero

Christopher is an AI leader and technical expert, who has delivered both AI strategy and production-grade AI systems in small startups and multinational corporations in Europe and New Zealand. He holds a PhD in Applied Mathematics and an LLB from the University of Otago, and is currently Head of Xero AI, where he leads the team of incredibly talented professionals building Xero’s AI Systems, AI Platform, and Data Platform. He aspires to both transform companies into world-class AI organisations and to own a Bernese Mountain Dog – both are works in progress.


Rachael Milicich, Stats NZ

Unlocking the value of data and statistics is something that Rachael has been passionate about her whole career, spanning over twenty years. Rachael is a senior public sector leader at Stats NZ (New Zealand’s National Statistical Office) where she is responsible for data system strategy and policy, data capability (including data standards), the Open Data Programme, and thought leadership to support Liz MacPherson in her role as Government Chief Data Steward. Rachael is also chairing (on behalf of the NZ Government Statistician Liz MacPherson) the UN Friends of the Chair Group on the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics and Working Group on Open Data. The newly formed Working Group on Open Data is working with the open data community to look at open data opportunities and challenges that are important for National Statistical Offices like data interoperability.


Professer Michael Winikoff, Victoria University

Michael Winikoff recently joined Victoria University of Wellington as a Professor in the School of Information Management. Previously he was Professor (and earlier also Head of Department) at The University of Otago. Michael’s research focusses on autonomous software, with a focus on software engineering aspects: how can we conceptualise, design, build, and verify such systems?. More recently he has been working on how such systems can effectively explain their decisions, in a way that is  accessible to humans. He is also interested in broader societal implications of AI, including factors that affect trust in such systems.  Michael has chaired the International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multi-Agent Systems, was general chair of the Australasian Artificial Intelligence Conference, and has been a senior programme committee member for the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence.



Jul 24
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Event Category:


Victoria University of Wellington
Lecture Theatre 1, Te Toki a Rata Building, Kelburn Parade
Wellington, New Zealand
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