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NZ sets up AI forum for world’s fastest growing disruptive tech


New Zealanders are engaging with artificial intelligence (AI) on a daily basis, probably without even realising it, NZTech Graeme Muller says.

The ability for machines and computers to learn from the people who interact with them is AI in action, he says. AI is the fastest growing impactful technology spreading the globe.

Muller made the comments today on the eve of the launch of the New Zealand AI Forum in Wellington today. Dozens of New Zealand’s leading tech companies are joining the forum which has been initiated via a collaboration between NZTech, the government and AI tech leaders.

The forum launch will be attended by politicians, government agencies, tech companies and some of New Zealand’s largest corporations.

One of the most recent examples of AI in New Zealand is when people use the chat function on the Air New Zealand website to help book a ticket, in doing so they are chatting with an AI not a human, Muller says.

“The more you engage with it the better it gets at helping you. Air New Zealand’s chatbot, Bravo Oscar Tango, or Oscar for short, is becoming more user friendly and more helpful the more it interacts. There’s no doubt that AI is the future, allowing travellers to better self-serve within their channel of choice, further improving the customer experience.

“Another example is when people do a search on the Harvey Norman website or many other global e-commerce sites they are actually using Christchurch-based search specialist firm SLI Systems’ embedded search software which uses AI to serve up even more relevant information.

“SLI Systems, NZX listed and one of New Zealand’s top 100 tech exporters, has seen some e-commerce customers conversion rates improve by as much as 71 percent after they deploy their AI assisted search functionality on their sites and apps.

“New Zealand leaders Soul Machine and FaceMe have developed AI systems that have a human face that can respond to your body language and emotions. Their AI, Nadia, is being deployed across Australia as an assistant for disabled people.

“AI is happening already and as more and more New Zealand firms start using computer systems that can adapt and learn we will see a massive improvement across many services. The launch of the forum, to be chaired by Stu Christie from the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund, is critical for New Zealand right across the economy in sectors as diverse as education, healthcare, retail and agriculture.

“We are seeing so much AI appearing and changing our lives, we are committed to this coordinated approach. We’ll see big changes in our everyday activities this year and the next few years that many people cannot comprehend.

“The speedy birth of AI in New Zealand is happening right across the country. The future impacts on the economy and society will be significant, dramatic and disruptive. It’s such an exciting time to be involved,” Muller says.

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For further information contact Stu Christie on 021 2773388 or Make Lemonade editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188.

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