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Artificial Intelligence venture moves out of central Christchurch location

David and Albi Whale in the space they used above a bicycle shop in central Christchurch.

The New Zealand group behind a supposedly groundbreaking artificial intelligence (AI) programme has moved out of the space it used above a bicycle shop in central Christchurch.

The Terrible Foundation's co-trustees, David Whale and his 26-year-old son Albi Whale, claimed to be building an advanced AI programme and used a space above the Action Bicycle Club shop on Walker St.

The pair claimed the AI could write up doctor's notes, run a company and talk to people. They also claimed to have $450 million in assets. But the claims have been cast into doubt by recent reports.

"We wrote a [notice] letter in early March; our intentions were to ensure Action Bicycle Club was unaffected by any distorted truths.

"It would be sordid for the press to drag another party into this – for their sake I hope you don't.

"We're currently restructuring to ensure our investments remain unaffected."

A family member from the trust that owns the building declined to comment. Action Bicycle Club co-owner Charlotte Bebbington also declined to comment.

Albi and David Whale came to public attention in 2017, making bold claims about their plans to build an AI called Zach, which they would house in a restored heritage building in central Christchurch. They also claimed to be using profits from various initiatives to donate to worthy causes.

But the claims appeared to unravel in March. Donations promised to local worthy causes were later withdrawn and experts cast doubt on the claims made about Zach's abilities.

In March, David Whale said some donations had to be put on hold because in December they "ran out of money". Albi Whale told Stuff in 2017 that he hoped to give millions to charity and generate between $6m to $30m in revenue last year alone.

The pair were working with Christchurch Hospital director of emergency medicine research Martin Than and Christchurch GP Robert Seddon-Smith to develop ways that Zach could be used in the medical sector.

A spokesman for Internal Affairs last month said the department was considering investigating the Terrible Foundation's performance reports to Charities Services. The foundation's latest report to the Charities Services claimed $450m in assets, including $2m in cash, $10m in investments and $442m worth of property, plant and equipment.


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