New Zealand’s fast-growing artificial intelligence (AI) sector has been recognised with the International Conference on Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (AAMAS) coming to Auckland in 2020.

It is only the second time AAMAS has been held in Oceania in its 20-year history. The event is the largest and most influential global conference focused on agents and multi-agent systems – key elements of artificial intelligence which are widely applied in robotics, smart mobile systems and decision support systems. More than 500 delegates from around the world are expected to attend the five-day conference.

The New Zealand bid was led by Dr Quan Bai at Auckland University of Technology (AUT), and Professor Michael Winikoff from the University of Otago – with support from Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development’s Auckland Convention Bureau (ACB) and Tourism New Zealand’s Conference Assistance Programme.

Dr Bai, Senior Lecturer at AUT’s School of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences, says: “That is fantastic recognition of New Zealand’s emergence in the highly specialised world of autonomous agents and multi-agent systems. It wasn’t easy to win the bid against strong competition, and the hard work isn’t over. In fact, it starts all over again now as we aim to deliver a fantastic, highly successful AAMAS.”

The win comes hot on the heels of New Zealand’s first-ever AI-DAY, an event aimed at connecting and engaging the AI ecosystem in New Zealand, from government to academia and industry. It attracted 500 attendees and 23 speakers. The conference was organised by NewZealand.AI and the AI Forum of New Zealand, which is part of the NZTech Alliance, bringing together 14 tech communities, over 500 organisations and more than 100,000 employees to help create a more prosperous New Zealand underpinned by technology.

Ben Reid, executive director of the AI Forum, told NZTech the March event showcased the amazing strides New Zealand is making in AI.

“The speedy birth of AI in New Zealand is happening right across the country. Activity and capability in New Zealand is really gathering momentum on all fronts as the country begins to apply AI and machine learning to technology exports. Some New Zealand companies are providing cutting-edge world-first products. We’re seeing incredible AI developments on a weekly basis and they are growing.”

These included Netsafe’s AI tool Re:scam, to stop $12 billion lost globally to phishing scams every year; Chapman Tripp’s new AI service for legal due diligence, and Soul Machine’s Rachel, a digital human avatar created by two-time Oscar winner Mark Sagar.

“New Zealand’s largest companies – including ANZ, Orion Health and Air New Zealand – are rapidly taking to AI, developing innovative new products and solutions using artificial intelligence to create new approaches to old problems.”

A new research report ‘Artificial Intelligence: Shaping a Future New Zealand’  will be launched in May, containing key findings and recommendations about how the country can maximise the opportunities of the technology.

Meanwhile, Head of the ACB Anna Hayward says the AAMAS win “brings great opportunities for Auckland and New Zealand’s scientists to showcase their world-class expertise to an influential international audience, and to build important global relationships.”


(via ACB, NZTech, AI Forum)


Featured image: Soul Machines’ digital human avatar, Rachel