Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search


Is artificial intelligence the future for the primary sector

There has been a lot of hype around artificial intelligence (AI) over the last couple of years. The advances in AI, machine learning and predictive analysis has come ahead in leaps and bounds, but are we really there yet?

There is little doubt that, in a world now driven by data, that AI will be the next big evolution in technology. Its impact will not just be felt within the tech community, but by every single sector throughout New Zealand.

The primary sector has taken notice and is already preparing for this shift. NZ agritech companies are looking to lead the way and are integrating elements of AI and machine learning into their systems.

“Artificial intelligence will be a major topic discussed at the upcoming agritech event, MobileTECH 2018,” said Ken Wilson, programme manager for the MobileTECH 2018 event.

“This event is focused on promoting innovation through the use of smart data, attracts many of the country’s primary industry leaders, tech developers and early adopters. AI is now at the forefront of technology development.”

Greg Peyroux, Managing and IT Director at Dunedin-based Iris Data Science, is one of the keynote speakers at MobileTECH 2018. He will be providing valuable insights on the development of AI, what is it exactly, and where the primary sector will see the most benefits.

“In time, it is possible artificial intelligence will develop from being an accessory, to being integral to the decision-making processes in our daily lives,” said Mr Peyroux.

A recent report by the US-based Gallup and North Eastern University, found that 85% of Americans are already using at least one of six products with built-in AI elements. These include navigation apps like Google Maps, video or music streaming services like Spotify and digital personal assistants like Siri.

Another report predicts that 38% of US jobs will be replaced by robots and artificial intelligence by the early 2030s. The 2017 PwC report also noted, however, that job losses due to advances in technology is not a new phenomenon. This has been happening since the early 19th century and, in most cases, it opens the doors for new jobs, skills and productivity increases.

Initially, Google used machine learning to review images and blur faces, but quickly realised that the technology could be used to automatically provide up-to-date information for their Google Maps app. Much of the same technology is also being developed for the agricultural sector, enabling machines to visually detect, identify and process a range of weeds, crops and fruit in New Zealand.

It would be fair to say that computers are now on par, if not better than, humans at viewing an image and making the right decision based on that image.

The ability for machines to apply deep learning techniques, where mountains of data is quickly reviewed, trends identified and insights generated, is significantly better than in the past.

This technology will provide a massive opportunity for all sectors.

“If you are unfamiliar with machine learning, then a proof of concept may be a good way to evaluate its potential with a possible quick payback,” said Mr Peyroux. “Deep learning is currently dominating computer vision and a number of other key development areas. I’m looking forward to discussing

this further with the industry at MobileTECH 2018.”

MobileTECH 2018 is running in Rotorua on 27-28 March 2018. Further details can be found on the event website,


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Retail: International Websites To Pay GST

New rules would be aimed at imported goods valued at or below $1,000. Customs would retain responsibility for collecting GST on imported parcels valued more than $1,000. More>>


High-Level Advice: PM’s Business Advisory Council Membership Announced

The Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council brings together a mix of experts, six women and seven men with small to large business experience, from across New Zealand, to provide advice. More>>


Improving: Report Shows New Zealand Air Quality 'Good'

Our air 2018, produced by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ, shows that while some previously known issues persist, progress has been made and levels of some pollutants are declining. More>>


Greenpeace: Govt Extends OMV Exploration Permit

The Government has just granted oil giant OMV a two-year extension to drill in the Great South Basin, despite issuing a ban on new oil and gas exploration permits in April. More>>


Collective Bargaining For Contractors: Working Group's Model For Screen Sector

A recommended model to allow collective bargaining for contractors in the screen sector has today been unveiled by the Government-convened Film Industry Working Group. More>>


Kauri Dieback: DOC Closing Tracks To Protect Trees

The Department of Conservation will close 21 tracks across kauri land to help prevent the spread of kauri dieback. An additional 10 tracks will also be partially closed and the open sections upgraded... More>>