Artificial intelligence could improve the country's GDP by up to $53 billion before 2035 but there needs to be more education around the technology, says a new report.
Artificial Intelligence, Shaping a Future New Zealand was developed with contribution from the public and private sector and a number of Artificial Intelligence (AI) companies in New Zealand.
The report highlighted concerns that Kiwi companies did not fully understand the opportunities AI could offer, with research showing 44 per cent of businesses thought education was a major barrier to AI adoption.
Artificial Intelligence Forum New Zealand executive director Ben Reid said New Zealand might struggle when competing with other countries that had invested in the tech.
"Just as 100 years ago electricity transformed industry after industry, AI will now do the same." Reid said.
"Countries with more sensible AI policies will advance more rapidly, and those with poorly thought out policies will risk being left behind."
At the launch this evening, Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Clare Curran said an action plan was urgently needed to address the lack of skills and understanding of AI technologies.
Canada, China, France, Singapore, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and the UK have all developed multi-million dollar national AI investment strategies.
New Zealand currently does not have a national AI strategy.
Curran said the Government was planning to work closely with the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Public Policy, as well as the Chief Technology Officer who was soon to be appointed, to look at implementing legislation and regulation.
This would ensure ethical, privacy and other concerns were addressed.
"Most importantly from my perspective, the report found that AI will not lead to mass unemployment," Curran said.
"Rather the technology could augment many roles, freeing up employees from the more mundane or rote tasks to allow them to tackle more complex and creative work, enhancing our unique human attributes, such as creativity, critical thinking and collaboration."
Individuals who would be impacted by technological change would need to retrain and reskill she said, adding that the country needed to have a plan for this.
According to the research, over the next 40 years AI-driven job displacement would account for just 10 per cent of normal job creation and destruction.
"The New Zealand tech sector is the country's fastest-growing sector and third largest exporter and there is a clear opportunity for the sector to develop AI based technology and export it," Reid said.
"In healthcare and other social services, a certain level of social licence will need to be developed before the population at large are comfortable with AI-driven services," he said.
"At the same time, most AI will remain invisible to consumers, in the way that AI for current online searches and maps is."