A New Zealand forum on artificial intelligence will be launched in Wellington on 7 June with support from NZTech and chaired by Stu Christie, investment manager at the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund. It will be a member of the NZ Technology Alliance, which is managed and supported by NZTech.
It aims 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.
Christie says AI is fast being used to make people more efficient and will touch every element of New Zealanders’ lives enabling better healthcare and education, faster service and more personalised products.
“Like any emerging technology there is still a lot that Kiwis don't know about AI - both the opportunities and the risks. Having a nationally coordinated forum to share learnings and have discussions is critical to ensuring New Zealand gets the best outcome.”
Christie says the key purpose of the forum 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.”
He adds: “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 cites as “a great example of AI from a Kiwi company” the soundtrack company Booktrack. “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 New Zealand AI company Soul Machines is a lead player in another arm of AI, cognitive computing; 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,” he says. “They really are the human interface of computing and have great application across a wide variety of industries.”