Research published by the Artificial Intelligence Forum of New Zealand (AI Forum) says the accelerated use of AI could deliver a multi-billion-dollar boost to the economy.
Models from McKinsey and PwC show global GDP could be 14 per cent higher with AI and New Zealand could gain between 5.6 and 10.4 per cent of total GDP by 2030, compared to a scenario without AI.
The study called "Towards Our Intelligent Future" says AI is a fundamental tool to tackle issues highlighted by the Treasury’s new Living Standards Framework for Wellbeing, launched in December 2018, and also the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
The AI Forum is, therefore, calling for urgent action to progress the use of the technology without waiting for a formal Government led national strategy.
The report also shows New Zealand is performing reasonably well in the international AI discussion, but needs to invest more and secure a supply of home grown talent.
Ben Reid, executive director of the AI Forum, said the global AI discussion is not just about business and productivity but how to help solve some of the world’s greatest challenges including: poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental decay, clean energy, better healthcare, food production and education.
“This research will inspire New Zealand to benefit fully from the age of AI. We want to encourage greater investment, both public and private, convince organisations and individuals to invest more time and energy, foster more research and development, open up more data and motivate creativity and innovation to bring about a new AI-enabled vision for New Zealand," he said.
“As a general purpose technology it means we won’t be able to live without it, just like electricity or the internet -- artificial intelligence is going to be just as important."
The report found significant opportunities for AI investment in health, conservation and road safety.
“But to take full advantage we need to act now, be the agile innovators we are and not wait for a fully-formed national strategy to arrive first,” Reid said.
A 2018 study by the AI Forum of New Zealand "Artificial Intelligence: Shaping a Future New Zealand" recommended NZ develop a national AI strategy, which to date has not been forthcoming.
However, even without a strategy, New Zealand is generating some world class developers and early adopters including Spark, ANZ, Xtracta, Faceme, Ambit, Precision Driven Health, RoboticsPlus and Air New Zealand.
“There have been several sizeable investment deals into New Zealand AI companies; major banks and telcos have identified AI investments and the government has delivered significant pieces of AI related policy work, including the Algorithm Review and most recently the Christchurch Call to stop extremist content spreading online," Reid said.
"Towards Our Intelligent Future" was made possible with the support from many organisations including the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, ANZ, Google, IAG, Microsoft and Spark.