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New Zealand University Launches New Artificial Intelligence Research Institute

The University of Waikato has launched a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) Institute, in an attempt to position New Zealand as an international leader in AI. The institute, Te Ipu o te Mahara (A Receptacle of Consciousness), is focused on translating New Zealand’s world-leading expertise in AI, real-time analytics of big data, and machine learning into commercial businesses and applications.

According to a news report, the Institute Director, Professor Albert Bifet, said that the Institute’s purpose is to link Waikato’s world-class training and education with leading research and ultimately boost New Zealand’s growing tech industry. “Artificial intelligence and Maori tech have been identified as enabling growth engines for New Zealand and the purpose of Te Ipu o te Mahara is to leverage our world-leading expertise to benefit New Zealand.”

He noted that AI will transform research and business in New Zealand, with technology currently being New Zealand’s third-largest export sector. The country’s top 200 tech companies brought in revenue of $12.7 billion last year.

Research into real-time analytics for big data offers huge opportunities to create new businesses and transform existing businesses in the country. It offers a step-change in computer performance, the efficiency and effectiveness of processing the huge datasets behind deep learning, machine learning, and AI.

The report also stated that the Institute was recently involved with bringing together seven of the eight New Zealand universities involved in AI at Hobbiton, to further connect and grow New Zealand’s AI community. “Our focus is on building collaborative relationships between the Institute, the wider AI research community, and the business community, both in New Zealand and internationally, and then using that research to support entrepreneurship and the commercialisation of AI technology,” Professor Bifet explained.

Associate Director for the Institute, Jannat Maqbool, will be responsible for fostering these relationships. Alongside the work of experts and researchers, a big focus of the Institute will be getting young people excited about STEM subjects and AI, so New Zealand can benefit from a local talent pool with diverse perspectives in leveraging this technology into the future, Maqbool said.

The Institute will offer programmes in schools, deliver professional programmes for industry, and help people connect and invent new ways to address the current challenges, using AI. Te Ipu o te Mahara will sit within the Division of Health, Engineering, Computing and Science at the University of Waikato.

Waikato also created other AI-based applications like WEKA (Waikato Environment for Knowledge Analysis), the world’s first open-source machine learning library that has been downloaded more than 10 million times. Its researchers have also written books on machine learning and data mining used by Google employees and computer science departments in universities around the world. The University has also recently invested in New Zealand’s most powerful computer for AI.

OpenGov Asia had reported that the supercomputer, NVIDIA DGX A10, can rapidly and efficiently process massive amounts of data, allowing students and researchers at the University to process at lightning-fast speeds. It enables machine learning and AI that can solve problems from addressing climate change to managing the country’s biodiversity.

The system was supplied by Fujitsu and fits into one-quarter of a computing rack in the University’s main server room. The NVIDIA A100 Tensor Core GPUs featured in the DGX A100 system enables enterprises to consolidate training, inference, and analytics into a unified, easy-to-deploy AI infrastructure.

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