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Ben Reid

Into 2019: AI, The Fourth Industrial Revolution And Advancing Wellbeing


Welcome to 2019, which I expect will be a transformational year for Artificial Intelligence in New Zealand and around the world. I hope you enjoyed a relaxing summer break and are re-energised for the year ahead.
Over the summer holidays I had the chance to reflect on the AI Forum’s ongoing focus; to advance the settings for success which support our AI ecosystem, to help guide policy and investment decisions so New Zealand is able to maximise the opportunities ahead of us, both economic and social.
To recap, our programme of work for 2019 already includes:

  • a national events programme including our AI-DAY 2019 conference March 27-28 in Auckland. Check out the latest speaker announcements!
  • the research programme, Towards Our Intelligent Future
  • AI Forum Working Groups
  • continued participation in Partnership on AI workstreams and discussions
  • regular communications and promotion of New Zealand AI
  • actively contributing to national AI policy, education, strategy and investment conversations
  • building international links between the New Zealand AI community and the rest of the world.

The AI conversation is rapidly moving from WHAT should happen, to HOW to make it happen and this will be a common theme for the year ahead. AI-DAY 2019 will showcase many examples of real world AI applications which are demonstrating real benefits. Similarly, our research programme is identifying case studies of AI in use across the economy and government, practical demonstrations which aim to educate and inspire organisations to accelerate their AI investment. We look forward to sharing these with you mid-year.

In particular, we will continue to track the momentum being made around the world to coordinate AI investment. At the end of last year, Canadian Researcher Tim Dutton published an excellent analysis of the 18 national and regional AI strategies currently in existence. While we were encouraged by the announcement of New Zealand’s AI action plan last year, we are very keen to see an acceleration of progress in 2019. One particular initiative to emulate is Finland’s effort to train its population in understanding Artificial Intelligence.

This week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Finance Minister Grant Robertson are both attending the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland. The focus of this year’s gathering is Globalization 4.0 – Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The PM will be promoting the New Zealand Government’s Wellbeing Agenda, participating in panel discussions including one focused on wellbeing and options beyond GDP.

Global thinking on the productivity and economic benefits that AI will bring is increasingly well-rehearsed, but I think it is less understood how data science and AI could be applied in innovative ways to help improve and measure wellbeing outcomes. Perhaps New Zealand’s AI community has an opportunity to be at the forefront of these developments…?

Don’t miss out, book your ticket for AI-DAY as soon as possible! I also look forward to seeing you on 14 February in Wellington21 February in Aucklandand 27 February in Christchurch.

Ben Reid
Executive Director


Create connections in the AI and FinTech ecosystems. Join us on 14 February in Wellington21 February in Auckland and 27 February in Christchurch.

AI Forum’s Ben Reid is presenting on the rise of AI at MobileTECH 2019, 3-4 April in Rotorua. Check out the keynote speakers for the annual event which showcases tech transforming the primary sector.

What does the future of New Zealand’s public sector look like? Register to attend theFuture Government Summit, 26-27 February, 2019 and help create a roadmap for the future. Includes GovTech, tech trends, innovation and more.

In local news, FaceMe secures $US10 million in funding. Listen to Dr Reuben Steff on RNZ discussing AI in the security sphereIs the augmented workforce coming to New Zealand? Anna and Kelly Prendergrast investigate.

Read how AI is key for New Zealand’s future. In other local news, despite concerns about the 5G rollout, firms are developing solutions to monitor and clean up waterways, help the elderly stay healthy and make cities safer! Read more here.

Read why the US needs a national AI strategy and what it should look like. Also, an update on European AI strategy. Take a look inside Finland’s plan to train its population in AI. Read Tim Dutton’s, Building an AI World, a report on national and regional AI strategies.

In case you missed it, here’s an update on Google’s AI Principles. Meanwhile, the history of AI is entwined with state and corporate power. AI must now reflect those it has excluded, says Stephen Cave. Plus the top 10 ethical issues in AI and the AI gender gap.

The Alan Turing Institute will spearhead new research after receiving a £48 million Government funding boost. Research will include health, government, science, engineering and the humanities.

Don’t believe the hype: the media are unwittingly selling us an AI fantasy says Irish academic, John Naughton. He is a Professor of the Public Understanding of Technology.

Entries for the 2019 Hi-Tech Awards are now open! Check out the categories and consider a nomination. Save the date for the 2019 Gala Dinner on 24 May in Auckland, during Techweek19.

The Machine Learning & AI Developers Conference submissions close 28 February. MFAT submissions for a free trade agreement close 11 February. Register for Export Essentials workshops nationwide.

Programme development for Techweek19 has started. Find out what is new this year and how to be involved. The Techweek19 Discussion Forum is now open.

Meet the UpStarters and learn more about New Zealand’s tech and innovation story. Watch videos and download the showcase booklet.

Register to attend the Tech Marketers conference on 28 February. Save the date for AI-Day on 28 March and Techweek 20-26 May.

If you’re not on the New Zealand AI ecosystem map, please email us to be included in the next update.  Like what you’ve read? Receive your own copy, simply subscribe here.

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.