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Artificial intelligence to play crucial role in NZ way of life

Changes brought about by artificial intelligence will be as significant as those brought about by computers and the internet, according to an industry expert. 

NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says AI technologies are beginning to have a major impact on New Zealand's economy and society, and will make significant changes in all aspects of business, government and everyday life, the same way computers and the internet have over the last 30 years.

Muller's comments follow the New Zealand AI Forum's latest research report, which highlights the importance of AI for New Zealand's future growth. 

"Last year the AI Forum released a report that called for a national AI strategy. That would be nice, however technology is moving so fast we just need to get on with it," he says.

"It is excellent that this new report identifies we should immediately begin considering the role of AI to support all of the existing national strategies," says Muller. 

"We need to consider AI in all sectors, including health, education, agriculture and banking. AI will be useful in almost every way of life in New Zealand," he explains.

"For example, how can AI reduce the road toll? According to this study, AI has the potential to save 64 lives a year, prevent 7200 injuries and more than $800 million in social costs," Muller says.

"The research clearly highlights the value of AI for achieving New Zealand's wellbeing, sustainability and economic goals."

The report provides a showcase of AI case studies, analysis of what is needed to boost acceptance and adoption and a first examination of Maori attitudes, perceptions of and engagement with AI.

"The research identifies that New Zealand urgently needs to increase its focus on areas such as investment in AI, skills and talent, research, trusted data, ethics and regulation," says Muller. 

"The report shows how AI solutions can be used to improve wellbeing, productivity and sustainability."

Muller says AI is fast emerging as a key technology to solve many business and social problems. 

"More than half of New Zealand businesses and organisations think AI will be, or is already, a game changer and will enable transformation of business and society," he says. 

"Underpinning all of this is the ever-increasing importance of data."

Muller says organisations are starting to place greater value on opportunities arising from their data.

"But more needs to be done if we want to capture the power of AI for New Zealand's well-being."