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Trio of businesswomen to lead AI Forum of New Zealand

11 Dec 2019

The AI Forum of New Zealand has appointed three local business women who are charged with leading New Zealand’s use of AI into 2020 and beyond.

ANZ Bank head of technology Megan Tapsell has taken over as the AI Forum of New Zealand’s new chair, with Simpson Grierson technology lawyer Louise Taylor appointed as deputy chair.

Tapsell has family connections with the first Māori Speaker of the House, the late Sir Peter Tapsell. She is a major advocate for the role of Māori in all aspects of New Zealand and previously sat as an advisory board member of the Māori health tech business Navilluso Medical, fronted by Tracy and Lance O'Sullivan, who was the 2014 New Zealander of the year.

In a statement she says, “With the world in a constant state of change due to the rapid advancement of technology, it is important that our industry leaders also consider the ethical impacts on our people, both in our workplaces and our community.”

Louise Taylor specialises in law around new and emerging technologies. She specialises in new and emerging technologies and has spoken and written widely on AI, fog / cloud, IoT, drones, quantum computing and other technology trends.

Computer scientist Emma Naji has also taken the position of executive director of the AI Forum, replacing Ben Reid.

Both Tapsell and Naji acknowledged the tremendous efforts of the outgoing and inaugural executive director Ben Reid and chair Stu Christie, who stepped aside because of other business commitments. Both indicated their intent to step down months ago to enable the next generation of leaders.

Naji says that Tapsell and Taylor represent a female-led driving force that bodes well for the future of the AI Forum.

“Their leadership reinforces the importance of AI for New Zealand’s future prosperity and the growing focus of how best to harness AI for the benefit of New Zealand, the 'how' and the 'why' are a key focus of our summit next year,” she says.

She adds that the AI Forum has recently released a series of five research reports covering areas such as AI in financial services, agriculture and health. They have outlined issues stressing New Zealand urgently needs to focus more on achieving an AI-enabled future, particularly in relation to investment, research, skills and talent, ethics and regulation and trusted data.

“New Zealand needs to actively consider benefits from creating a world leading AI strategy, supporting innovation and business; research suggests that the financial and insurance sectors are a viable quick win for New Zealand,” she concludes.