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Otago experts welcome invitation to work with Government on AI framework


Monday 7 May 2018 9:10am

Colin Gavaghan image
Associate Professor Colin Gavaghan

University of Otago experts in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) policy are welcoming a Government invitation to formalise a relationship to shape the future of AI and predictive analytics software use in New Zealand.

In a release published on 2 May Minister for Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, and also Minister for Government Digital Services, the Hon. Clare Curran, announced the Artificial Intelligence: Shaping a Future New Zealand report which outlines the opportunities and challenges for New Zealand in adopting AI.

“An ethical framework will give people the tools to participate in conversations about Artificial Intelligence and its implications in our society and economy.

“As a first step and because of the importance of ethics and governance issues around AI, I will be formalising the Government’s relationship with Otago University’s NZ Law Foundation Centre for Law and Policy in Emerging Technologies,” Ms Curran said in her release.

Members of the University of Otago’s Artificial Intelligence and Law in New Zealand Project (AILNZP) proposed in April that an agency be established in New Zealand to oversee the use of predictive analytics by publicly funded bodies. This could, for example, publish a complete list of the predictive tools used by Government departments, and other public institutions such as ACC.

James Maclaurin image
Professor James Maclaurin

After subsequent discussions with central government and an agreement in principle, the University of Otago is forming a new Centre for AI and Public Policy, to be headed by Associate Professor Colin Gavaghan of Otago’s Faculty of Law, and Professor James Maclaurin of the Department of Philosophy. Associate Professor Alistair Knott, of Otago’s Department of Computer Science is also a founding member. This Centre will draw together a number of research initiatives at the University of Otago working on the social effects of AI including the Centre for Law and Emerging Technologies, the Artificial Intelligence and Law in New Zealand Project and the AI and Society Research Group.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with Government on an issue that has significance for a great many New Zealanders. AI and algorithms offer great opportunities, but also some potential pitfalls. Our new Centre for AI and Public Policy will offer a hub from which to examine this technology from a range of perspectives – technical, ethical, legal, social – with a view to maximising the benefits while minimising the risks,” says Associate Professor Gavaghan.

Founders of The Centre for AI and Public Policy look forward to solidifying their relationship with central Government, and beginning to provide expert advice and assistance in this field of emerging technology.

For further information, contact:

Associate Professor Colin Gavaghan
Faculty of Law
University of Otago
Tel 3 479 5582

Professor James Maclaurin
Department of Philosophy
University of Otago
Tel 3 479 8719

Mark Hathaway
Senior Communications Adviser
University of Otago
Mob 21 279 5016

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

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