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New Callaghan Innovation white paper: The first waves of AI disruption are here - time to prepare for the next

Artificial intelligence (AI) will have an extreme impact on New Zealand’s agriculture and health sectors in the next decade – so says a new white paper from Callaghan Innovation. The question now is, how will businesses respond?

Released ahead of AI Day on 28 March, the white paper predicts how AI will affect agriculture, digital, energy, health and other sectors in the next few years. Beyond that, it details how different AI technologies will disrupt each sector in “waves,” and showcases local examples of businesses harnessing the potential of AI.

Jonathan Miller, national tech network manager for Callaghan Innovation, says more people are starting to think about AI, including how it might affect (or is already affecting) their industry and how to harness it. “We’re seeing a few different waves of disruptions,” he says. “There are a lot more to come.”

And who will be affected?

“This isn’t just software companies. It’s every industry. It’s actually quite hard to imagine all the different applications artificial intelligence can be used for.”

How AI will affect the New Zealand market

Source: Callaghan Innovation

Callaghan chief executive Vic Crone says that while there are outstanding Kiwi innovators using AI in these sectors, many businesses leaders are yet to embrace the incredible opportunities it presents and risk falling behind. “Artificial intelligence is not just a technology for tech companies,” she explains. “In New Zealand and around the world, businesses across diverse industries are using it in a host of ways to create serious competitive advantages.

“In agriculture, AI is driving automated harvesting and milking, smart monitoring of plants and stock health, as well as more precise forecasting of crop and dairy yields. In the health sector we have a huge opportunity to lead the way in improving access to healthcare with AI-powered self-diagnosis tools, such as smartphone apps. AI systems are also sifting through oceans of data to predict health issues in advance and with more precision than we ever imagined.”

Vic Crone, Callaghan Innovation chief executive.

Forrester Research predicts that by 2020, businesses driven by AI insights, big data and the “Internet of Things” (IoT) will “steal” US$1.2 trillion (yes, that’s trillion, with a “t”) a year from competitors who don’t embrace the opportunities. Miller, also the white paper’s coordinator, says the risks and opportunities of AI ride 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. 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.”

Another thing that he says businesses need to do: understand and think about data. “Companies need to think very strategically about data,” he says. “Artificial intelligence can only be used when you’ve got data.

“We hope this paper motivates more firms to find out how AI can solve their problems and create new opportunities, new enterprises, and even new sectors. Our AI experts and business advisors at Callaghan Innovation are happy to help with advice, connections, technical services, and R&D co-funding.”

Jonathan Miller, Callaghan Innovation national tech network manager - data and IoT.

Aiming to stimulate discussion ahead of AI Day and the release of a national report by the AI Forum New Zealand, Miller concludes with what a lot of businesses might already be thinking. And if they’re not… then it might be a good idea that they start. “What we need to see is New Zealand companies really thinking about artificial intelligence.”

Have a look at the white paper here

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