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29 August  2023 | Tākina Wellington Convention & Exhibition Centre

Welcome to the most important conversation of our time. 


It’s 2033, less than ten years away.

What does daily life look like in world where a new sentient intelligence may be among us? An artificial intelligence on par with, or surpassing our own. This would be an epoch defining development in human civilisation.

Join Diplosphere's visual journey into the future, examining various aspects of daily life impacted by AI. We will explore both the upsides and downsides with experts from Aotearoa New Zealand and around the world, in the short, medium and long-terms. 

The conference will help New Zealand design a world-leading approach to this powerful technology as it develops rapidly.



  • Education: How do we teach our kids? 

  • Jobs: Where are they?  Where will my kids be working?

  • Climate: How does AI affect climate? 

  • Is there a silver lining from a sustainability perspective?

  • Health: How can AI transform the future of healthcare?

  • Food: What is the great promise in food production? What does this mean for New Zealand’s primary sector export-driven economy?

  • The Geopolitics of AI: Will machines be fighting? Are autonomous weapons systems the new nuclear threat?

  • Wealth distribution between rich and poor

  • Ethics, cultural and Māori data sovereignty

  • Government regulation: Keeping safe without stifling innovation

  • Innovation & creativity: Artists, how will they survive in a world of Deep Fakes

  • Investment/Business:  How can NZ lead?

Event Details

Date: Tuesday, 29 August 2023

Time: 8:45 AM – 4:30 PM NZST (Registration starts at 8:00 AM)

Venue: Tākina Wellington Convention & Exhibition Centre

50 Cable Street, Te Aro, Wellington 6011, New Zealand
(view map)




Anticipating hundreds of participants, it will be a day for policymakers, government agencies, business leaders, thinkers, Māori iwis, technologists, artists, diplomats, lawyers, entrepreneurs, educators, health professionals, and the general public to engage, be inspired and exchange views.

The tale of our future with AI has not been written yet.

How would you like to play it out?
“Great topic.”


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Tuesday 29 August 2023 | Tākina Wellington Convention & Exhibition Centre

08:00 – 08:50

Registration and Barista Brew by Arcanum AI

08:50 – 09:00

Tikanga Māori 

09:00 – 09:05

Welcome to the Most Important Conversation of our Time!

  • Maty Nikkhou-O’Brien, Founder & Executive Director, Diplosphere (Convenor)

  • John Allen, Chancellor, Victoria University of Wellington; CEO WellingtonNZ

09:05 – 09:30

Keynote Address | Hon Ginny Andersen, Minister for Digital Economy and Communications

Chair: Dan O’Brien, Co-founder & Director, Diplosphere, Tech Trailblazer

09:30 – 10:15

On the Political Agenda

With the New Zealand general election set for October 2023, join our politicians from across the political spectrum as they share their perspectives on AI. The incoming government is likely to face AI breakthroughs in its term. What policies can help the country take advantage of the AI boost to improve productivity and public services while addressing ethical concerns, regulatory frameworks, and the need for re-skilling. How can New Zealand proactively prepare? How can we shape this?

Chair: Peter Griffin, Science and Technology Journalist, Business Desk, The Listener


  • Hon Judith Collins MP, National Party Spokesperson for Research, Science, AI and Technology

  • Chlöe Swarbrick MP, Green Party Spokesperson for Digital Economy and Communications

  • Natalia Albert, Deputy Leader, The Opportunities Party​

10:15 – 10:45

Morning Tea, Mix and Mingle

10:45 – 12:00

Session 1 | Near-Future Breakthroughs and “Holy-Sh*t” Moments 

It is not hyperbole to give a 50-50 chance of an artificial general intelligence in our midst within the next ten years. Many AI researchers have recently experienced a “holy-sh*t!” moment witnessing AI doing something they weren’t expecting to see for many years (Stuart Russell). AI may translate in major improvements in science and technology reducing accidents, disease, injustice, war, drudgery and poverty (Max Tegmark). What are the current leading developments? What near-future breakthroughs could we expect? And where is it all heading?

Chair: Professor Dame Juliet Gerrard, Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor


  • Gil Meron, CEO, Sprout NZ Agritech & Foodtech

  • Priya L. Donti, Incoming Assistant Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); Co-founder & Executive Director, Climate Change AI

  • Igor Costa, Senior Architect, GitHub

  • Kimball Thurston, CTO, Wētā FX

  • Dr Shay Mandler, Spine Surgeon, Wellington Regional Hospital

  • Asa Cox, Founder & CEO, Arcanum AI

12:00 – 13:00

Session 2 | Education, Work and Productivity 

How will children learn and what should they learn? Where will jobs be, what will they look like, and where will our children work? AI tools could drive a 7% (or almost $7 trillion) increase in global GDP and lift productivity growth by 1.5 percentage points over a 10-year period - at the same time expose up to 300 million full-time jobs to automation. Where will graduate level jobs be in law, accounting, medicine, education, and technology? Is it realistic to look to the past for analogies, when this technology breakthrough promises to move much faster? What is the role of the tech sector in the economic future of NZ considering its contribution to a substantial number of high-paying jobs and attractive returns for investors? 

Chair: Robyn Baker, Chair, Teaching Council of Aotearoa NZ; former Chair, NZ National Commission for UNESCO


  • Dr Matthew Birchall, Research Fellow, NZ Initiative

  • Jack Webster, Doctoral Student, Digital Citizenship, Auckland University

  • Kelly Eckhold, Chief Economist, Westpac; former Senior Financial Sector Expert, IMF

  • Tim Bradley, Strategic Advisor – Digital Economy, Amazon Web Services Australia-NZ

13:00 – 13:50

AI Fusion Networking Lunch

13:50 – 14:20

Keynote Conversation | Gerard de Graaf, EU Senior Envoy for Digital to Silicon Valley | AI in the EU and 450 Million Citizens

The European Union's AI Act is the first major AI-specific legislation which would attempt to regulate the use of AI across the 27 EU member states, and also has extra-territorial application. What does it mean for us? 


ChairPeter Griffin, Science and Technology Journalist, Business Desk, The Listener

14:20 – 15:00

Session 3 | Regulation vs Innovation

“Regulate us”, is the call from tech leaders like OpenAI’s Sam Altman and Google’s Sundar Pichai. But the reality on the ground is that 10s of billions of dollars is already being mobilised to better, faster, cheaper AI. 

Our laws need rapid updating to keep up with AI, which poses tough legal questions involving privacy, liability and regulation (Max Tegmark). Is the EU Act’s risk-based approach a model for New Zealand? What about the Māori Data Sovereignty? How to regulate without stifling innovation? What are other jurisdictions doing?

Chair: Madeline Newman, Executive Director, AI Forum


  • David Shanks, former Chief Censor; Executive Director, RDC Group

  • Dr Karaitiana Taiuru JP, Māori AI/Data and Emerging Tech Ethicist, Māori Data & Kaupapa Māori Researcher, Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor 

  • Sam Irvine, CEO, Copyright Licensing NZ

15:00 – 15:30 

Session 4 | Being Human in the Age of AI

A new sentient intelligence is only a handful of breakthroughs away, of our own making. Without ethical guardrails, it risks reproducing real world biases and discrimination, fuelling divisions and threatening fundamental human rights and freedoms. How do we retain its humanism and our humanity while reaping the rewards of this advance? How will AI progress change what it means to be human? 


Chair: Liz Longworth, Chair, NZ National Commission for UNESCO 


  • Scott Houston, Innovation Hero, Founder of GreenButton (acquired by Microsoft)

  • Dave Moskovitz, Chair, Global Entrepreneurship Network; Co-chair, Wellington Abrahamic Council of Jews, Christians & Muslims

15:30 – 16:30

Session 5 | New Zealand and the World in the Age of AI: Geopolitical Implications


AI is likely to have a broad range of applications for international politics, from military and defence to trade and diplomacy. How does AI change geopolitics in a digital world where physical boundaries are not the barriers they once were? Are autonomous weapons systems the new nuclear threat? Will machines be fighting? Tackling the elephant in the room: can/will AI take over the world? And what role and place for a small nation like New Zealand?

Chair: Her Excellency Nina Obermaier, EU Ambassador to Aotearoa NZ  


  • Lydia Khalil, Digital Threats to Democracy Project Director, Lowy Institute

  • Mary Wareham, Arms Director of Human Rights Watch

  • Dr Matt Boyd, Philosopher & Research Director (Health, Technology & Catastrophic Risk), Adapt Research

  • Andy Prow, Founder, RedShield Security

  • Mako Yass, Philosopher-designer, Winner of the Future of Life Institute World Building Contest

16:30 – 16:40

Concluding Remarks

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