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Algorithm Charter for Aotearoa

Algorithm charter blog post

He moana pukepuke e ekengia e te waka
(metaphorical meaning: unsettling times can be overcome if the people are resolute to do so).

Since the inaugural Algorithm Charter community of practice (CoP) hui on 1st June, the CoP has continued to meet quarterly, to both share our experiences in implementing the Charter and generate ideas to give life to its aims.

The final hui for 2023 was held on 6th December and rounded out a very busy year for attendees, who were made up of both Charter signatories and applicants. The Community gathered as guests of Inland Revenue both online and in-person in Wellington.

While it seems cliché to talk about the ever-evolving landscape of algorithms and artificial intelligence, it is nevertheless true that the field is experiencing rapid and considerable advancement. At the same time, our respective agencies are experiencing a period of significant change and transition. All this means that coming together to share our understanding of our commitments to the Algorithm Charter Aotearoa New Zealand is crucial.

The focus of this hui was to understand our members’ drive to be part of the Community, to better appreciate the things that keep their agencies up at night and how best we could collaborate with each other. Members shared their experiences navigating the implementation of the Charter: shedding light on the big challenges and celebrating some of the successes. These real-world encounters provided valuable context, offering a nuanced understanding of the Charter's impact on data and AI initiatives across various agencies.

We also enjoyed an insightful guest speaker from the Interim Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, Emma MacDonald, who told us about the genesis of the Centre and their plans for 2024. We welcomed Emma to join our community as a regular attendee and, subsequently, members of the Community have participated in the workshops to help develop the Centre.

Lastly, one of the prominent topics that emerged during the hui was resourcing concerns. As agencies delve into the world of AI, allocating adequate resources towards both implementation and governance is proving to be challenging. Members’ insights, rooted in experiences, resonated with everyone, resulting in the exchange of strategies to overcome some of these resource-related obstacles.

The community of practice hui serves as a small-scale version of the collaborative spirit needed for the advancement of algorithm governance initiatives. The opportunity was taken to collectively agree to the finalised Terms of Reference. The discussions on resourcing concerns and priority challenges served as a reminder that, as a community, we are not alone in navigating these particularly choppy waters.

The CoP Committee is planning the next hui in March 2024 at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment where they are looking forward to delving into generative AI with an exciting guest speaker.

Although we are not there yet, we are heading in the right direction and look forward to bringing more people along in the waka.

Photo by Luca Dugaro on Unsplash.



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