Bits: Tech Roundup: New Zealand Looks Globally to Build Up Its Technology Industry

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From the Devonport ferry, passengers can get a view of downtown Auckland. Credit David Maurice Smith for The New York Times

With so much turmoil happening around the world, at least one country appears to be building up its technology ambitions by capitalizing on those concerns.

New Zealand has been running a municipal program to draw in developers globally, including from the United States. And it has been overwhelmed by the number of responses, the New York Times reporters Jacqueline Williams and David Streitfeld write. New Zealand is suddenly attractive to many because of its remote location — far from American politics, ISIS and “Brexit” — and lower costs, among other factors.

It helps that New Zealand has already landed one big tech name. This year, Peter Thiel, the billionaire Silicon Valley investor who has been advising President Trump, was revealed to have obtained New Zealand citizenship. As part of his application, Mr. Thiel said he would help elevate the country’s tech industry.

Mr. Thiel did set up a fund that made some investments in New Zealand-based tech companies, but that activity has largely diminished since.

Now, officials in New Zealand are again trying to build up its tech industry, aided by international events.

“It’s boom time for the next 10 years,” Rod Drury, the chief executive of the online accounting software firm Xero, which is based in New Zealand, said of trying to lure more coders and engineers to the country. “We’ll take a lot. We’ll take hundreds.”

More tech news:

• New tools are needed to track technology’s impact on jobs, a panel of economists and computer scientists has concluded. The panel’s recommendations include the development of an A.I. index to track the pace and spread of artificial intelligence technology. That technical assessment, they said, could then be combined with data on skills and tasks involved in various occupations to guide education and job-training programs.

•G.M. is expanding it’s self-driving car operations in Silicon Valley. As the race to develop the new generation of vehicles heats up, the automaker plans to hire 1,100 people and invest $14 million at a new development center in San Francisco that would spearhead its work on self-driving cars.

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