By Robert Hickson 24/03/2016

AlphaGo’s been leading the artificial intelligence news the last few weeks. It’s an impressive display of the advances in AI, but as the Verge notes, AI doesn’t do so well (at the moment) when there is imperfect information – which is most things in life.

While the likes of Google, Facebook, and other Silicon Valley companies are investing heavily in AI, one of the hotbeds of research and entrepreneurial activity is London.

However, Bloomberg Business just featured the work of Auckland University’s Professor Mark Sagar in a video as part of their “Hello World” series. Mark’s research group, which is part of the Bioengineering Institute, were involved in creating some of the visual effects for Avatar, King Kong and other recent films.


It’s a great example of interdisciplinary collaboration. In this case, linking computer science, machine learning, and biology.

There are, of course, other artificial intelligence research groups in NZ, but not apparently as multidisciplinary. AUT has one focused on language and speech technologies, and mind theory (though their website doesn’t give any details). The University of Canterbury has a focus on machine learning, as does Victoria.

Still, there’s a long way to go before AI displaces natural stupidity.

Header Image Source: Laboratory for Animate Technologies, University of Auckland 

0 Responses to “Artificial intelligence research in New Zealand”

  • Massey University are also investigating AI in the form of devices for building a “smart home” – one embeded with sensors that aid the person living in the house.

  • “Artificial Intelligence” ( which is but programming super computers to get the data desired by programmers) is never going to displace unnatural stupidity.

    For the very idea of spending vast amounts of money in a nation that is facing a public housing privatization ( shortage of the un-affordable housing)to create a house embedded with sensors and calling it “smart” is stupid.
    All the “smart” technology is stupid, costly and was unneeded by the consumers.

    • I disagree, Helen, that AI is just programming computers to get data desired by programmers. It is about computers being able to learn and make some decisions by themselves. NZ is certainly not spending “vast amounts” of money on embedded sensors – a few modest research projects, that comes out of general R&D budgets not housing budgets. “Smart” technology isn’t usually artificial intelligence, but if “all “smart” technology” is stupid, costly and unneeded, why are many firms and consumers buying and using smart devices (to, for example, improve machinery safety and performance, help monitor the elderly and sick, or encourage exercise)?

      • Why are people using stupid unneeded technology that has been marketed to them as “smart” .
        Probably because they want to be ” smart”.
        Why do people follow the herd in marketed trends?.
        Why do people fall prey to advertising.

        The crux of the matter is you/people think that the computer programs are “intelligent” just because they are & programmed$ by programmers to provide data (to pass the AI test, a test that does not prove that it is “intelligent”)
        The incomplete data processing of a supercomputer does not define intelligence ( the wisdom that is missing from our world).
        IBM( aka nazi helpers) Watson has pushed for robots to “look after” elderly and sick (for cost cutting not well being- for insurance) it does not mean a robot is an intelligent substitute for human attention and medical care.It just means these ideas are being spread by the media and venture capital invested in a technology bubble.