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AI needs great minds to think alike

A high-profile authority on human-centred AI is now confirmed as the keynote speaker for AI Day 2019.

Dave Heiner, Strategic Policy Advisor at Microsoft, will appear at New Zealand’s premier AI event, to be held at Auckland’s ASB Waterfront Theatre on 27-28 March.

Heiner brings perspective to the polarising debate about the promise of Artificial Intelligence, and the challenges it faces being fully accepted by people and society.

His opening keynote, on Thursday 28th March, will include topics such as the importance of creating an ethical framework to ensure people’s privacy and the reliability, safety and fairness of AI systems. He says transparency and trust are paramount.

“AI will impact everyone, everywhere. It promises great benefits to society, but like other transformative technologies it inevitably raises new societal issues and concerns,” Heiner says.

“Ultimately one of the biggest questions for our generation is how to ensure computers remain accountable to people while those designing AI systems are accountable to the public. Our major focus should be building AI systems centred on human values.”

Artificial Intelligence has grown exponentially over the last five years thanks to a powerful combination of cloud computing, exponential growth in algorithms and generation of data, which have made it both possible and useful.

“AI is here to stay, so the challenge is to manage it thoughtfully to fulfil its promise, drawing upon insights from civil society groups, governments, academics and technologists,” Heiner says.

Other discussions at AI Day will focus on health and education, the visual and film industry, translation and natural language processing, conversational AI and digital assistants, and real estate.

Ben Reid, Executive Director of the AI Forum of New Zealand, says Dave Heiner will provide a catalyst for a lot of discussion.

“This year’s event combines global leaders in AI from the United States, China and around the world, along with many local trailblazers and up to 600 delegates who will all be invited to take part in the discussion.

“We are inviting anyone interested in the future of this technology, and our society and economy, to come and hear the debate and take part - we need great minds to talk about this big topic.”

Tickets for AI Day 2019 are on sale at

The conference is over two days and starts at 4.30pm on Wednesday 27th March. It will be followed by seven workshops at AUT on 3-4 April, giving attendees the chance to dive deep into demonstrations, case studies and detailed discussion, and a hackfest on 6-7 April where 25 teams will develop and pitch “AI for Earth” concepts.

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