Callaghan Innovation has issued a white paper warning that artificial intelligence (AI) will have an extreme impact on New Zealand’s agriculture, digital, energy and health sectors in the next decade.
It says some Kiwi businesses are already using AI in smart ways, disrupting their sectors and creating competitive advantages, while are struggling to get their heads around its practical uses, and that businesses disengaged from the technology risk falling behind.
Citing Forrester Research, the white paper says: “Globally, companies using AI, big data and the Internet of Things to uncover new business insights are predicted to steal $1.2 trillion from their less-informed peers by 2030. Seeing the potential, tech giants and other global players are investing billions in AI across a host of sectors, many of which they have never played in before.”
The white paper identifies agriculture as the sector to be most immediately impacted by AI, saying “We believe there will be an extreme impact in agriculture, with many tasks able to be automated and optimised. Presently we see the bulk of this impact occurring in the next two to five years but focused on efficiency and cost savings.”
However, it says far more aggressive uptake and application right across the value chain will be required “if we want to sustain and advance our leadership in this space.”
Jonathan Miller, Callaghan Innovation’s national technology manager and the white paper’s co-ordinator, said the risks and opportunities of AI would depend on the ability of Kiwi firms to engage with the technology.
“Kiwi businesses can absolutely thrive in a world where everyone is waking up to the potential of AI,” he said.
“To be successful, it’s important they understand the different types of AI technologies and how to apply them to create real value in their specific situation and environment.”
Major AI research project
In the white paper Ben Reid, executive director of the NZ AI Forum says the Forum is coordinating a large-scale research project – due to be published in the second quarter of 2018 – that will explore the AI landscape in New Zealand and internationally, and the potential for AI to help drive economic growth and social improvement in New Zealand.
“The rapid development of AI technologies presents major opportunities and challenges for our country,” he said. “We need to actively engage with AI in order to secure our future prosperity, and we need to hold a meaningful national conversation about the broader implications of AI for society.”