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Ben Reid

How Should Society Prepare For AI?


Already August has been a full month with AI related events happening around the country, in particular the AI Forum Auckland Connect event and IBM’s Watson Summit . Earlier this month, University of Otago’s Professor Alistair Knott discussed how should society prepare for advances in AI at the Royal Society’s regional lecture series in Wanaka. If you missed it, we have noted the highlights and key points for you.

This month’s AIHappyHour meetup is 23 August in Auckland. (Also be sure to check out, a new AI resource curated by AIHappyHour host Justin Flitter). Next month, I will be moderating an AI discussion at the Canterbury Tech Summit on 14 September in Christchurch. The summit has an impressive line up of local and international speakers, get in quick for the final few tickets.

National AI Impacts Research Topics
Our team has been making good progress on the National AI Impacts research project. This study will provide a definitive benchmark on New Zealand’s current capabilities and clearly identify the opportunities to leverage AI technologies in future. As well as a comprehensive stocktake of organisations working with AI in New Zealand, here are just a few topic areas being explored:

What is New Zealand’s readiness for this technology?
What sectors that would benefit most from AI deployment?

What are the potential impacts, both direct and indirect, of AI on New Zealand society?
How can we enable “AI for global good”, not just a few?

What skills are in demand by organisations developing and using AI applications?
Are our schools and universities teaching the right things for an AI enabled future?

What are the opportunities for New Zealand Government use of AI?
How does New Zealand compare to other governments making use of AI?

Thanks to everyone who has contacted us to participate in our research. Soon we will be collecting more detailed feedback via an online survey. If your organisation would like to be involved as a named supporter of this pivotal research there are still options available, so please contact us.

International AI Investment
As part of our research effort we continue to look outwards assessing New Zealand’s relative position compared to other countries globally. While mainstream media have been busy making noise about the Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg public spat on AI safety and a non-story on Facebook chatbots making their own language in the lab, other recent international news highlights substantial AI investment around the world. This month we took a closer look at Canada (population 36m):

I look forward to connecting with you at forthcoming AI events around the country – as always, please let us know what outputs and activities you would like to see from the Forum and email us:

Ben Reid
Executive Director

AI centre stage at Tech Summit

Connections strengthen AI locally


How should society prepare for advances in Artificial Intelligence?  This was the question that Associate Professor Alistair Knott recently put to a large audience. He argues we need interdisciplinary structures to coordinate a response. He also advocates computer science students have an understanding of the social consequences of AI. Read highlights here.

Our membership of the global Partnership on AI is also building our international community. The Partnership was established to study and formulate best practice and advance public understanding. We will be attending the inaugural partners session in October to begin work on the Partnership’s thematic pillars.

Join us at this month’s AIHappyHour meetup on 23 August at Microsoft in Auckland. Speakers include technologists from Microsoft’s Commercial Software Engineering team, along with stories from kiwi businesses Precision AI and who are incorporating AI technologies in their productsIn local news, Imagr’s Founder talks business motivation. New Zealand’s FaceMe shares advice for recruiting digital employees.

Meanwhile, in Europe, there is lively discussion on the legal civil rights of robots. Considering a career in AI? 80,000 Hours has published a guide to AI policy careers.

A special welcome this month to our new members ATEED, Auckland University of Technology, Callaghan Innovation, FaceMe, Google, HMI Technologies, InsightNZ Solutions, Microsoft, WREDA, University of Auckland, Xero and Xtracta. If your organisation wishes to join as an AI Forum member please contact us.Learn more about what we do. Gain the benefits of being part of this focused community. Join the AI conversation, connect and be involved! Follow @AIForumNZ on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

Want to know more?  Sign up for the AI Forum NZ update, it’s free and will take less than a minute!

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.