Where is Artificial Intelligence Landing in New Zealand?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the way machines work. Computer systems are now able to simulate behaviours learned from humans and make business decisions. Such technological developments will have huge implications for individuals, businesses and governments. AI is a powerful tool when leveraged correctly and has the potential to achieve serious efficiencies for businesses. 

New Zealand is a highly-developed nation, with a strong emphasis on science, technology and education. AI is also integrating itself within society to provide solutions to different industries, businesses and communities. Firms need to patent their technology so they can operate knowing their intellectual property is protected. We examine the AI scene in New Zealand and its uses in businesses and by the government.

What is Artifical Intelligence (AI)?

AI is the simulation of human intelligence processes in machines. Machines can learn algorithm so that they think and react like humans

AI processes absorb information and rules to solve problems, use reasoning to make rational decisions and self-correct. 

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Face recognition, voice recognition, chatbots, self-driving cars and robotics are applications of artificial intelligence.

There are two categories of AI:

  • Weak: an example is Siri, the Apple personal assistant. It is designed to respond to particular tasks.
  • Strong: an example is a self-driving car. A system with general human cognitive abilities. When presented with unfamiliar tasks, a strong AI system can respond with a solution without the need for human intervention.

Everyday common applications include face recognition, voice recognition and chatbots. Self-driving cars also use artificial intelligence to make decisions based on their information or past experiences.

AI for businesses

AI is reshaping business structures and industries alike. Automated processes are becoming standard in the workplace. This means repetitive tasks are performed more efficiently, with a higher level of accuracy. Robotics perform difficult tasks such as precise production or dangerous tasks in mines. AI can process large sets of data faster than a human. National and international firms alike are jumping on the bandwagon to innovate their businesses by using AI. 

Shipping container companies are using AI to accurately forecast demand. In New Zealand, Kotahi, a supply chain specialist, has used AI to reduce forecasting processes from four days to 30 minutes. The increased accuracy and cost savings benefit both the firms and their clients. Given New Zealand is a large exporter of primary industries and perishable goods, the use of AI in this industry has had profound effects. Producers of fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products could benefit from similar supply chain efficiencies by using AI to eliminate food waste. New functionalities help small to medium-sized enterprises get a competitive advantage and provide big corporation benefits. 

Domino’s, one of the country’s largest pizza chains, has implemented AI to solve one of its biggest customer complaints: the pizzas don’t look like the ads. The pizza checker is able to scan each pizza made and analyse its size, toppings amount and distribution. If the pizza is not up to scratch, it’s declined. AI has particular efficiencies in repetitive tasks, where humans may lose their accuracy and performance level, affecting their judgements on quality. Other food and beverage retailers could benefit from the use of such technology. 

AI’s use by the government

Algorithms used in the public sector help the government with decision making. Some technology helps shape solutions for societal issues in New Zealand, including tax fraud, healthcare and education. There are more opportunities for the government to increase its commitment to AI and keep the momentum going towards becoming a Digital Nation.

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The government uses algorithms to help with decision making.

Healthcare is the second largest recipient of government expenditure in New Zealand. The system is largely public, with additional private health providers. There is the opportunity to implement AI in public hospitals will help to reduce wait times and overcrowding. AI technology can help produce faster medical diagnosis by using sensors and analysis of personal data. MoleMap, created by New Zealand dermatologists in the 90s, has scanned over 200,000 patients. MoleMap uses an IBM AI platform that uses image analytics and cognitive capabilities. New Zealand has some of the highest rates of melanoma worldwide. AI does not replace dermatologists’ jobs but rather aids them to become more effective and accurate when screening benign and cancerous lesions.

AI has the potential to revolutionise the way students access education. It helps learning in the classroom span across different environments and caters to different learning needs. Interactive, electronic textbooks have dynamic interfaces that can be personalised. These resources help cater to students with learning, sight and hearing difficulties. AI tutors are another tool that can assist children, so they can receive help with homework and projects outside the classroom. Such tools can help children who have access to low-quality education and family support.

AI can detect fraud or unusual data sets. This software is often used in the finance industry, by banks. Inland Revenue, the national tax authority, uses AI to help detect fraud and perform other tasks. The government could recover large amounts of money lost due to tax evasion and fraud.

Ethical considerations

The government needs to regulate AI industries to protect society from misuse. Laws, ethics and policy need to be developed and implemented appropriately to monitor the use of AI in society. As it is a new and constantly evolving technology, there are few laws in place regulating its use and development. Transparency in the development process will be key when evaluating decisions made by AI machines.  

The issue of privacy is increasingly important, given how widespread voice and face recognition features are in smartphones. Machines often store information from past events to help inform future experience. With such large amounts of data being stored, the potential for hacking is also very serious. Hackers could take over control of robots and machines to exploit personal or business information maliciously. Governments can, therefore, play a major role in the development of AI. Currently, a three-year research project is underway to evaluate the legal and policy implications of AI in New Zealand. The recommendations will help shape future laws, best practices and policies on the subject.

Work with Biz Latin Hub

At Biz Latin Hub, we offer a range of back-office services to support foreign entrepreneurs to make their mark in New Zealand. The country is a prime destination for further AI investment and wealth of opportunities exist. If you’re ready to get started in the country, but don’t know the best business structure or require legal or due diligence support, you can depend on our time-served New Zealand business experts, who are based in the country. We can also provide supporting filing applications for the right type of intellectual property protection.

To get started, contact us for personalised support.


The information provided here within should not be construed as formal guidance or advice. Please consult a professional for your specific situation. Information provided is for informative purposes only and may not capture all pertinent laws, standards, and best practices. The regulatory landscape is continually evolving; information mentioned may be outdated and/or could undergo changes. The interpretations presented are not official. Some sections are based on the interpretations or views of relevant authorities, but we cannot ensure that these perspectives will be supported in all professional settings.

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