Waikato associate dean: A good time to make AI work for Māori

By Stefan Dimitrof

Expert minds have come together to discuss artificial intelligence and look to the future by laying the foundation of Māori data sovereignty.

The Māori Artificial Intelligence Wānanga was hosted by the AI Institute at the University of Waikato. It included workshops, discussions over decolonising algorithms, Māori participation in the sector and the future direction of AI in New Zealand.

The University of Waikato associate dean, Māori associate professor Te Taka Keegan (Nō Waikato-Maniapoto, Ngāti Puuuu, Ngāti Whakaaue) said the wānanga was an opportunity for people in the AI community to show what they are doing and to discuss what is important to Māori in the AI sector.

“It’s just leading the way forward.”

Keegan said AI was becoming widely used in many fields of work and he thought AI was starting to affect Māori in a big way.

'The potential is limitless'

“We should be at the precipice, we should be leading it; one of the speeches said ‘if we aren’t leading AI, then AI will be leading us’, so now is a good time to make AI work for Māori.”

Keegan said that some of the key areas were where AI was directly involved with Māori language and language processing and environment tracking.

“The potential is limitless really, AI - like computing-  can encroach on all areas so there is the potential of AI to affect all of the work we do and all of the sectors that we are working in”.

Whether it be education, whether it be health or traditional knowledge, pretty much anywhere, so huge potential, huge opportunity and as adopters of new technologies, this is an avenue that Māori can really get in, drive the technology in a Māori way for Māori outcomes.”