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Source: New Zealand Government

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E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā karanga maha o te wā, tēnā koutou, tēna koutou, tēna tātou katoa.

Ki ngā mana whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau, Tāmaki herenga waka, nei rā aku mihi ki a koutou.

Nōku te hōnore kia haere mai ki te whakanuia tēnei huihuinga whakahirahira.

Nō reira, ngā manaakitanga ki runga i ā tātou, katoa.

Tēna koutou, tēna koutou, huri noa i te whare, tēnā rā tātou katoa.

Thank you Megan for your kind introduction today.

Well, after a bit of a delay, due to COVID -19, it is really great to be here in person.  

I want to thank the organisers of today’s Summit, the AI Forum of New Zealand, in particular the Chair, the deputy chair and the Executive Director for their kind invitation to address you all.

Today, I want to take the opportunity to tell you about the exciting work that I am leading to support and enhance New Zealand’s AI ecosystem.

As the Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications, I am bringing together work across government to propel this country into the future, and make it a leading digital nation.

Parallel to this, as the Minister for Statistics, I am acutely aware about the transformative power of data, both for societal wellbeing and for economic growth.  

I believe with both portfolios to my name, I’m in a good position to really focus, craft and drive New Zealand’s digital transformation.

In a recent study supported by Google, it was estimated digital transformation has the potential to unlock $46.6 billion worth of economic value in non-technology sectors by 20-30.

The Digital Technologies Industry Transformation Plan, which falls under my Digital Economy portfolio, is a key tool to help drive the growth of the digital technologies sector.

The potential of this sector in a COVID-recovery context is also central to the government’s commitment to developing this ITP.  

A priority for the Digital Technologies ITP is creating an AI Strategy for Aotearoa.

As we all know, today’s world is one that is constantly being shaped by technological advancements. 

AI has the capacity to accelerate change further, magnifying other disruptive technologies such as 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics, and robotics. 

This convergence of technology is driving the digital economy, allowing for the development of new business models and increasing the speed of digital innovation.

Although AI has been around for decades, it has only recently matured and become mainstream.

Across the globe, AI is being developed and adopted, in order to make both governments and businesses more efficient and to assist in making better decisions overall.  

We believe that this is a good time to signal our intention to develop a leading AI Strategy for Aotearoa.

In consultation with our industry partners, the AI Forum, a set of draft cornerstones has been developed as the foundations for the Strategy.

We plan to test with you our thinking on these ideas through a Roundtable discussion to be held later today.

Through our consultation, we want to create stronger linkages from government to the wider AI Community.  

By working together on developing a strategy we will ensure NZ can harness economic and social opportunities from AI, while managing potential risks.

This government is committed to adopting ethical and safe AI that enhances our economy, serves the public good and builds our reputation internationally.

Through the creation and activation of our strategy we can ensure what is good for Aotearoa, will also be good for the world.

I also want to reassure you that today’s consultation, will not be the only opportunity to comment and to be involved.

Once we have incorporated feedback from this summit, we plan to work up a first draft of the AI Strategy.

Following that, there will be further opportunities for you and the wider community to have a say, as we craft this piece of work.

I’ve also set some ambitious goals where government to lead by example. 

Stats NZ is one of the sponsors for today’s Summit, and it’s undertaking some significant work to build trust in how data is used and managed.  

This includes the Algorithm Charter for New Zealand – a public commitment to the transparent and accountable use of algorithms.

It also includes the Data Ethics Advisory Group – for government to test proposals when it comes to new and emerging uses of data.

I’m keen to know what the potential value of bringing together disparate datasets is.

I know this is also important to the AI Forum.

Companies like Facebook, Google, Uber, Airbnb, WebMD and Amazon have demonstrated that tremendous value can be unlocked from Big Data.

Although some may question whether the social license needed for this type of innovation has yet been reached.

As I draw to a close, it’s clear we’ve got some work ahead of us as a government and as a sector.

That’s why a new Digital Strategy for Aotearoa is in development.

It’s founded on three key pillars:

• Mahi tika (trust)

We know proactive uptake of technologies will only happen when people trust the information they part with online, is being safely handled.

• Mahi tahi (inclusion)

Everyone needs to be coming on this digital journey of ours, no matter who they are and what their situation is.

• Mahi ake (growth).

It’s about getting a bigger piece of this digital pie for New Zealand.

I believe New Zealand has the potential to be a leading digital nation, and the creation of the Strategy will help ensure that we have a cohesive and appropriate work programme to reap the full potential of what digital offers us as a country, while managing risks. 

I wish you well today as you begin the Summit and I look forward to hearing about the outputs from the roundtable session.

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.

ENDS

MIL OSI