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All eyes on AI: What’s in store for New Zealand AI Day 2019

Robots replacing teachers, advancing cancer detection and identifying fake news ­– just a few of the topics that are on the agenda for this year’s AI day next month. Presented by the AI Forum New Zealand and NewZealand.AI, over 20 industry experts from Australia, China, the US and Aotearoa are gathering together on Auckland’s waterfront to discuss how the technology is impacting on business, people and society.

One headline speaker at the event is physicist, TED fellow and entrepreneur Sean Gourley. Gourley is a New Zealander based in the US who founded machine intelligence company Primer. He will be discussing fake news versus real news, algorithm manipulation and the challenges this places on democracy.

Others include Brandon Hutcheson, the co-founder of Kiwi AI firm Aware Group, who will be covering the economic value of automating school and university attendance records, AUT’s Dr Mahsa Mohaghegh who will be exploring whether robots will ever replace teachers, and advances in AI in managing cancer will be discussed by Glen Willoughby, senior research fellow at Victoria University.

Executive director of the AI Forum of New Zealand Ben Reid says this year’s event will show how AI is everywhere and is already part of regular life in New Zealand, while showing what the future holds. 

“There’s been a huge increase in momentum in the last year and while we can celebrate success, AI Day aims to inspire Kiwi innovators and leaders to understand we are only at the beginning of this technology curve and we can achieve so much more,” Reid says.

“The sector is growing rapidly, shown by the 500 percent growth in AI Forum membership over the last year – organisations are actively engaging with the technology, researching, raising capital, investing and developing new products or applications. 

“There will be many case studies about how AI is being used, mixed with discussion about the significant challenges it presents.  We want people to come and learn, take part in the debate and leave with a greater understanding of how AI can be managed to create value.” 

Producer of AI Day, Justin Flitter, says AI day is an opportunity to take one more step towards understanding and adopting a fundamental technology for our future.

“We are no longer staring into the headlights of this tech but embracing it and using it to bring new ways of working, efficiencies in business and government, and improvements to people’s lives,” Flitter says.

“But like all disruptive changes there are issues to debate and we are encouraging anyone with an interest in how we will advance as a country to come along and be part of an important discussion.

“New Zealand’s mainstream AI conversation only really began in 2017, and we now have real traction and momentum.  But we need to continue to build as many countries are moving faster than us and we can’t afford to be left behind.”

With conference partners including FaceMe, Aware Group, Spark, Jade, Microsoft and IBM, the two-day conference will take place on 27 and 28 March. Following this, six workshops will be hosted at AUT on 3 and 4 April, as well as a hackfest on 6 and 7 April where 25 teams will develop and pitch ‘AI for Earth’ concepts.

Other topics being discussed in panels and debated with the audience at AI Day include:

  • The importance of protecting data and privacy in a rapidly developing AI world
  • The growth of AI superpowers, the US, China and Europe, and how will this affect New Zealand?
  • Lifelong learning, constant upskilling and running to keep up with AI-driven job changes
  • The future of conversational interfaces and using AI to deliver authentic augmented reality experiences – when will chatbots resemble real people?
  • How can AI be used to radically improve government services?
  • How can AI help you buy a house?

 Tickets for AI Day are on sale here.

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