Eighty-two percent of NZ businesses feel Government should legislate over AI - study

As more and more businesses adopt the use of artificial intelligence (AI) there are concerns a lack of policy could pose risks, with new research finding more than 80 percent of New Zealand business leaders feel the Government needs to introduce legislation for the use of AI.  

The findings have been released by Datacom after it commissioned a survey of 200 senior business leaders (C-suite, senior managers, IT managers) working in New Zealand organisations with 100 or more employees. 

Among the respondents there was about a 50/50 split in the uptake of AI, with 48 percent claiming they currently use some form of AI in their business and 49 percent yet to adopt any form of AI.  

"There is a massive opportunity for New Zealand in terms of the adoption of AI," Karl Wright, the Chief Information Officer & Chief Information Security Officer at Datacom told Newshub.

"But there are potentially some challenges that we would need to face about our preparedness - the right frameworks of adoption of AI in New Zealand is critical. There's a balance to be had between the right sort of levels of governance and the right implementation plan.

"[We need to] simply see AI for the opportunity that it is but at the same time balance it with the potential pitfalls that exist."

The Datacom-commissioned survey was conducted in July by Curia Market Research. 

According to the research, almost half of Aotearoa's businesses say AI is "exciting", 35 percent want to learn more, 17 percent know about AI but aren't interested in learning, and just 2 percent say they aren't interested and don't support it. 

Six in 10 business leaders don't feel well educated about AI security risks, according to the research, although 69 percent support their employees using AI tools such as ChatGPT to carry out their work tasks.

Asked which industry could deliver the greatest benefits for society with AI, 25 percent of respondents identified wholesale trade, 19 percent said healthcare, followed by financial services (16 percent), administrative services (11 percent) and advertising and marketing (8 percent).

However, on the greatest potential risks facing society through the application of AI, 20 percent identified advertising and marketing, followed by administrative services (15 percent) financial services (17 percent) and healthcare (9 percent).

Although the Government has blocked its staff from using AI, right now there are no regulations and 82 percent of respondents in the survey felt there should be. 

The top two concerns around AI were security and safety.

The survey's findings present more pressure on the Government because it is clear that artificial intelligence is here to stay.