New Zealand needs a national strategy for AI


Artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies can be harnessed to help address some of New Zealand’s biggest challenges and opportunities, says executive director of the AI Forum NZ, Emma Naji

We can learn a lot from other nations in how to leverage these technologies such as AI, but with limited funding and resources New Zealand has to be smarter and well aligned to get the best impact, so a national strategy or plan is critical.

An AI strategy is also needed to help New Zealand consider how its AI will operate within a global market.

Commerce and consumer affairs minister David Clark will be opening the Aotearoa AI Summit in Auckland on May 12. The major event has attracted New Zealand’s leading AI scientists, policy makers and tech entrepreneurs to review the rapidly moving technology.

The minister will be sharing the government’s thinking on a national AI strategy and other speakers such as Jennifer Marsman, Microsoft’s cognitive search principal engineer and Greg Cross, founder of global leading AI company Soul Machines, will be revealing insights on the pace of change driven by AI around the world.

The summit is being used to feed into the government’s work on developing an AI strategy for New Zealand, something that countries leading in this field have already established in recent years.

Canada has just reinvigorated spending on AI in their latest budget with $NZ489 million being invested over the next 10 years into AI research and businesses.

Singapore’s AI strategy, launched in November 2019, focuses AI development on improving housing, transport, healthcare, education, safety and security. Investing in research and businesses, which can leverage AI technologies to rapidly improve the city, environment and wellbeing for all Singaporeans.

The European Union just announced proposed regulations that will require companies providing AI in high-risk areas to provide regulators with proof of its safety, including explaining how the technology is making decisions.

The AI summit will bring together the largest collection of AI leaders and specialists the country has seen. We will focus on identifying the best ways for AI technology to help create a more socially and economically prosperous New Zealand.