What impacts will Artificial Intelligence have on New Zealand’s economy and society?

In 2017-2018 the AI Forum is coordinating a large scale research project into both the New Zealand and international AI landscapes together with the potential for AI to help drive economic growth and social improvement in New Zealand. The AI Forum has designed an industry/government co-funded project that will not only enable a piece of comprehensive research, it will also inform and support the development of the AI Forum’s activities itself.

Ultimately the workstreams of the AI Forum will flow directly from the outcomes of this research. Additionally, the project has been designed so that the research can be used in ways to raise national capability for AI, including communications activity to raise the overall awareness of AI and its impacts throughout the country.

This project will release a comprehensive report due to launch on 2 May 2018 – contact us for more information on becoming a supporter of this groundbreaking project.

The research will investigate the following topics:

What is “Artificial Intelligence” and why is it important for New Zealand now?

  • Define the technologies that make up the term “AI” and their applications
  • What are the possible trajectories of AI over the medium term?
  • How will AI affect New Zealand’s economy and society?

Key questions to answer: Economy:

  • What is New Zealand’s readiness for this technology?
  • Is New Zealand missing out on many of the perceived economic benefits as well as potential export earnings from AI?
  • What should be happening to stimulate more interest in this technology and thus more deployment?
  • What sectors would benefit most from AI deployment?
  • For AI to deliver successful outcomes in New Zealand what needs to be in place?
  • What if any are the impediments?
  • What will be the overall economic impact of AI on New Zealand?

Key questions to answer: Society:

  • What are the potential impacts – direct and indirect – of AI on New Zealand society?
  • What are the Social License considerations for organisations using AI in New Zealand? Is there clear consensus on Social License principles?
  • Some of the potential societal and economic impacts discussed in relation to AI – such as job losses – are already occurring due to other technological and business model developments. How may AI applications affect these trends?
  • How can these technologies assist certain sections of the community get back into work

Focus area: Economy
How to position NZ for commercial advantage from AI:

  • Can NZ’s tech companies leverage AI faster than their competitors?
  • Are we as a country investing enough?
  • What national AI and commercialisation capabilities are needed?
  • Do industry leaders understand the potential opportunities from AI?
  • What are the short-term low-hanging opportunities to leverage AI in Health, Agribusiness, Transport, Smart cities and Government.

Focus area: Law and Society

  • Understanding AI’s influence on our legal framework and public policy
    • Impact on our laws
    • Impact on NZ economic policy
    • Impact on NZ social policy
    • Impact on NZ education policy
  • Consider Māori views of AI and its relationship to Mātauranga Māori.
  • How AI can be used for the good of New Zealanders
  • Ensuring “AI for global good”, not just the few
  • Understanding major AI risks
  • Ensuring safety in design and usage

Focus area: Education and Skills

  • Impact of AI on New Zealand’s skills and education:
  • What skills are in demand by organisations developing and using AI applications? (How does this compare internationally?
  • Are our schools and universities teaching the right things for an AI-driven future?
  • Do we have enough AI skills in New Zealand right now / in future?
  • What are the key research opportunities?
  • What skills will be important? In addition to growing STEM skills, how will arts, humanities and social sciences be important?
  • Does NZ need to grow the ability to work across multiple disciplines or have more people with multi-disciplinary skills?
  • What is the state of supply and demand for AI skills in New Zealand?
  • Is it primarily a lack of demand (=investment / capital) or lack of supply (graduates, domestic or imported) which causes the anecdotally low AI activity in this country?

Focus area: Government

  • What are the New Zealand government’s current applications of AI?
  • What are the opportunities for New Zealand government use of AI?
  • How will this require data sharing between agencies?
  • What are the “blue sky” opportunities to create frictionless or even invisible services supported by AI.
  • How are other governments around the world making use of AI? How does NZ compare?


A key purpose of this project is to raise awareness of AI, it’s economic potential and to influence various stakeholders.

While AI is a rapidly developing technology, understanding of its potential is still relatively limited.  By undertaking a collaborative research project with the government, industry and broader society we have an opportunity to raise the profile of AI and its potential.  Across government agencies and policy makers, across industry sectors, and with the public in general.


The project will also provide a  comprehensive view of the NZ AI ecosystem  in comparison to global developments, identify local market opportunities & any risks.
The research element of this project will be designed to provide a comprehensive stocktake of AI activity. The research will also set out to identify ways AI is being used across multiple sectors and any barriers or challenges that may need to be addressed to accelerate deployment. The AI Forum will work together to address these.


The project has been designed to include the launch of an industry group, the  AI Forum of New Zealand, to provide a neutral platform for the industry to manage AI concerns & to develop initiatives to drive uptake.

It is expected that the research will identify opportunities and barriers. The project has been designed to support the AI Forum structure to enable participants to engage with each other in a neutral environment, consider potential pilot programs and work together to address challenges and opportunities.