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Ben Reid

AI set to massively impact NZ

New Zealand needs to seriously and swiftly embrace artificial intelligence (AI) as an extraordinary opportunity and challenge for the country’s future, a new body, the AI Forum says.

AI already has a growing effect on Kiwis’ daily lives. Its potential impacts are profound. In the near future, it is likely to drive – at an unprecedented pace – highly disruptive change to our economy, society, and institutions.

As such, AI presents huge opportunities and risks to all New Zealanders, AI Forum establishment chair, Stu Christie says.

“AI will raise major social, ethical, and policy issues in almost every sector. It is critical for New Zealand’s sake that we actively consider, lift awareness of, and prepare for the changes AI will bring.

“Following the release of the Chapman Tripp and IOD report last year and an initiative within the NZ Angel investor community a national working group into the impact of AI has formed with the underlying support of NZTech, a not-for-profit association that works to improve New Zealand’s prosperity underpinned by technology by connecting, promoting and advancing tech communities across New Zealand.

“Designed to be a centre of gravity for all things AI in New Zealand the group already includes key government agencies, universities and tech firms who are working together to ensure AI creates a better New Zealand.

“There is a sense of duty to seek a deeper understanding of New Zealand’s potential as an AI-assisted economy and society, to ensure AI is a positive part of New Zealand’s future,” Christie says.

NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says the potential reach of Artificial Intelligence is pervasive. The future impacts on the economy and society will be significant and disruptive. Governments, businesses, investors and research institutes around the world are applying ever-greater time and effort into developing and deploying the next generation of AI systems and considering the implications for policy and regulation, he says.

“AI technologies have been rapidly evolving over the past 10 years. They are extensively used already – in tools such as phones, search engines, vehicles, logistics, health services, financial services, industrial processes, public services, and military systems.

“AI is globally-relevant and cutting edge. Nobody has a monopoly on the unique knowledge, impact and possibilities it presents; and nobody can predict with any certainty how AI will transform our future. But we can be sure the reach of AI will continue to grow and at an increasing pace.

“We know AI is expected to have the largest impact on developed countries that depend on knowledge resources and productivity gains for growth. New Zealand is one such country. Our focus on primary production and our relative underinvestment in technology companies may see us fall behind other counties which are better able to realise productivity gains from AI technologies.

“Unlike previous waves of automation, it will not just be the low-skilled and repetitive jobs that are most at risk of being displaced by technology. Knowledge workers are also at risk as bots automate and therefore careful planning for businesses and the economy needs to be managed correctly.”
The AI Forum is about to undertake a critical piece of research and is looking to all organisations and people with an interest in AI to step forward to ensure we identify the biggest opportunities for New Zealand and mitigate any risks.

For further information contact AI Forum Establishment Chair Stu Christie 021 277 3388, NZTech CEO Graeme Muller on 021 02520767 or Make Lemonade media specialist Kip Brook on 0275 030188

Ben Reid I head up the AI Forum of New Zealand - working to harness the power of AI to help bring about a prosperous and inclusive future for New Zealand and the world. The AI Forum NZ brings together technology firms, businesses, universities and the government to connect, promote and advance the national AI ecosystem.