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New Zealand urged to act now for the impact of artificial intelligence

New Zealand urged to act now for the impact of artificial intelligence

Institute of Directors and Chapman Tripp call for the creation of a high-level working group to help deal with AI-driven change.

AI-related industrial applications will replace humans in a number of readily disrupted fields, or any other industry involving routine tasks






The Institute of Directors (IoD) and law firm Chapman Tripp are calling on the New government to establish a high-level working group to help New Zealand deal with artificial intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is expected to be smarter than humans within 24 years, so it is critical for New Zealand to act now, the two organisations said in a joint statement.

The IoD and Chapman Tripp have developed a call to action paper highlighting the risks, opportunities and challenges AI presents.

“AI is an extraordinary challenge for our future,” says IoD chief executive Simon Arcus.

“Government and business leaders need to work together to promote greater development of AI technologies to ensure there is a coordinated approach to prepare for the impact AI will have on work, education and welfare. This requires big-picture thinking, long-term vision and appropriate oversight.”

Simon Arcus of Institute of Directors
Simon Arcus of Institute of Directors

Establishing a government led high-level working group is critical in helping New Zealand rise to the challenge

Simon Arcus, Institute of Directors

The IoD and Chapman Tripp say New Zealand must move now to ensure it can manage all the risks AI may present, but also capitalise on the opportunities.

“A working group with experts from science, business, law, ethics, society and government, should be tasked with considering the possible impacts, identifying areas of opportunity and concern and making recommendations on how New Zealand should prepare for AI-driven change,” says Bruce McClintock, head of technology, media and telecommunications, Chapman Tripp.

“While the impact of AI on the New Zealand economy is unquantifiable, many sectors should be investing more in AI technologies to make the most of their full potential,” says Arcus.

This extends from startups, to SMEs and corporates to government agencies and educational institutes,” says Arcus. “AI is an extraordinary challenge for our future. Establishing a government led high-level working group is critical in helping New Zealand rise to that challenge.”

The two organisations cited the government’s work with the private sector to develop a National Cyber Security Strategy and establish a National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT).

“We also call for greater collaboration and coordination among AI researchers, policymakers and industry members at sector level,” they said.

“Just as the Industrial Revolution reduced the demand for human labour in manufacturing and agriculture, AI technologies have the potential to reduce the need for skilled professionals in service fields that have been largely insulated from disruption, such as finance, accounting, law and medicine,” they noted in the report Artificial Intelligence - Opportunities and challenges for New Zealand: A call to action.

AI has already disrupted many industries, the report states. The manufacturing industry was one of the first to experience the impact with increased automation and the use of robotics.

“AI-related industrial applications will replace humans in a number of readily disrupted fields, including call centres, customer services, legal document review, or any other industry involving other routine tasks.

“It remains an open debate whether, like previous industrial revolutions, AI ultimately leads, after an initial period of disruption to established skills and industries, to greater employment as new work becomes available in areas that have not been automated.”

How do we encourage new jobs and industries that AI may promote?

The report said some key questions that need to be answered include:

  • What New Zealand industries will be most disrupted by AI?
  • What impact will AI have on our economy as some jobs are replaced by AI-driven automation?
  • How do we encourage new jobs and industries that AI may promote?
  • How does the education system need to evolve to address AI-driven change?
  • Should decisions made by AI systems be attributed to their creators?
  • Should AI systems be recognised in law as legal persons?
  • Are New Zealand’s regulatory and legislative processes adaptive enough to respond to and encourage innovations in AI?

Send news tips and comments to divina_paredes@idg.co.nz

Follow Divina Paredes on Twitter: @divinap

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