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National AI group launching next month


Artificial Intelligence or AI is fast being used to make people more efficient and it will touch every element of New Zealanders’ lives from better healthcare and education to faster service and more personalised products, tech leader Stu Christie says.

Like any emerging technology there is still a lot that Kiwis don’t know about AI – both the opportunities and the risks, Christie says.

Having a nationally coordinated forum to share learnings and have discussions is critical to ensuring New Zealand gets the best outcome. The first ever New Zealand AI Forum will be launched in Wellington June 7. Christie will be the chair of the forum.

Opportunities and challenges

“The rapid development of AI technologies presents innumerable opportunities and challenges for New Zealand. The forum is being launched to aid the direction of government policy, build base capability relevant to a future-state economy and drive positive social and economic outcomes for all New Zealanders.

“The AI Forum is supported by NZTech and brings together users of technology, tech firms, academia and the government to help connect, promote and advance the AI ecosystem and to make New Zealand more prosperous.
“Our key purpose will be to actively contribute to the prosperity of New Zealand through advancing New Zealand’s AI awareness and capability. We want to identify strategic opportunities for economic growth. The forum is a member of the NZ Technology Alliance which is managed and supported by NZTech.

“NZTech enables an ecosystem of tech communities and helps members find ways of increasing their capabilities through access to talented staff, peer networking, experience sharing, exporting, working closely with the government on critical initiatives and working with many agencies here and overseas.

“For those who don’t know, AI is the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behaviour. More specifically, the development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.

A great Kiwi example

“A great example of AI from a Kiwi company is the soundtrack company Booktrack co-founded by Paul Cameron. They have a large digital library of ambient sounds and music that is synchronised and overlaid into digital books.

“This library was laboriously built up by people over many years and at great cost, but now the application of AI technologies enables Booktrack to dramatically reduce the cost of its production – allowing them to address a number of market segments that were previously too expensive to serve.”

Christie says another arm of AI is cognitive computing which is the simulation of human thought processes in a computerised model.

“NZ’s leading AI company Soul Machines is an outstanding example of world class cognitive computing. They really are the human interface of computing and have great application across a wide variety of industries.

“Other countries are building national strategies. We, like them, need to understand what our core competencies and competitive advantages are to be able to effectively operate in the future state new economy,” Christie says.

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For further information contact Make Lemonade editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188.

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