Towards our intelligent future

Image source: – AI Forum report

The New Zealand AI forum has just released its new 2019 research report, Towards Our Intelligent Future – An AI Roadmap for New Zealand.

This report is the output of the AI Forum’s 2019 research programme and represents over nine months of collaborative work on parallel streams exploring AI adoption, policy and strategy in New Zealand and around the world. The research clearly highlights the value of AI for achieving New Zealand’s wellbeing, sustainability and economic goals. It also identifies specific opportunities in health, conservation and road safety as clear candidates for national AI investment, among many.  

The AI forum has come into existence in just the past couple of years – a response to the fact that artificial intelligence is now appearing across a broad range of the things we encounter in our day to day lives (think Facebook and Google search), as well as many areas of industry and commerce. Its first report was published last year (2018) and since then AI technologies have continued to evolve and diffuse at an accelerated speed and scale – particularly in the private sector, with slow momentum on strategic national AI policy and investment. This report provides a roadmap for the future direction of AI in NZ, as well as a range of recommendations to enable the adoption of AI in New Zealand.

At 180 pages its a pretty extensive read, and more than I can usefully summarise here – but for anyone interested in becoming more informed about the impact and opportunities of AI in our modern world it’s definitely worth a read. There’s also an extensive set of references at the end of the report that could keep you reading in this field for some time 🙂

I found the table on page 158 of the report in the section on strategy, maturity and change of particular interest as I contemplate the impact of AI on the future world that our young people who are currently in our schools, kura and universities will come to live, work and play in. It’s this perspective that particularly interests me, as we need to consider this aspect of our changing global landscape as we design the curriculum and approaches to learning in our educational institutions – and outside them as well.

The contents of the AI Forum Report resonate with me as I have just been reading David Duncan’s “Talking to Robots” – a fascinating collection of 24 visions of possible human-robot futures grounded in real technologies and possibilities and inspired by our imagination. 

In the book Duncan prompts us to think about what robot and AI systems are being built and imagined right now? What do they say about us, their creators? Will they usher in a fantastic new future, or destroy us?  As AI and robots are closely aligned (some might say ‘integrated’) these questions apply to both.

For even as robots and A.I. intrigue us and in some cases make us anxious about the future, our fascination with robots has always been about more than the potential of the technology – it’s also about what robots tell us about being human.

As educators we have a responsibility to be ‘tuned in’ to this part of what the future holds and to be considering the implications of these views of the future in terms of our curriculum and classroom programme design.

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