How Asian Countries are becoming the global leader in AI

By SiliconIndia   |   Wednesday, 27 February 2019, 10:27 IST
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How Asia is becoming the global leader in AI

A number of countries in Asia are in a fierce pursuit of AI, raising unprecedented amounts of capital from investors and pushing innovation around the world.

The government in China is heavily investing in AI; and the country outlined a three-step program in 2017 that it hopes will help it to become the world leader in AI by 2030. It will do this by pushing for increased use of and investment in AI in the country’s military, as well as in smart cites in particular. It has also announced a $2.1 bn budget for a tech and research park, with a focus on AI among other disruptive technologies.

South Korea has also publicly stated its intentions to become a world leader by 2022, with similar levels of investment announced. The country has long been renowned for its tech companies, and automotive and electronics industries – and there seems to be a consensus that AI will play a vital role in its future economy.

The country also has plans to build six new AI schools by 2020 and educate thousands of engineers, and the government is also supporting an AI-focused incubator to develop cutting-edge AI start-ups. However, the number of start-ups remains relatively small at present, and experts say efforts to build up engineering talent will take time to produce results in the workforce.

And in Japan, AI is seeing similar levels of commitment. The country released an AI strategy two years ago stating its intentions to focus on research and development, and collaboration between industry, government and academia. However, the country has to contend with an ageing population and subsequent limited workforce.

Funding for Asia’s top players comes from a variety of sources, including venture capital, government investment, corporate investment, and academic sources. For investors, such as billionaire philanthropist and tech entrepreneur Tej Kohli, AI is an increasingly smart investment move and the interest in investing in AI shows no signs of wavering any time soon.

In other countries across the continent, focus on AI is heating up. In India, for example, the government set up a task force in 2018,made up of a varied group of 18 experts and tasked with boosting the country’sAI across 10 sectors, including education, national security and retail. The taskforce has helped outline the biggest challenges hindering the industry’s development at the moment.

One fundamental truth of AI is that it needs data to perform; the more data fed into an AI machine, the more efficient and effective it becomes.Asia has the world’s largest population, and it also has more digitally-connected people than anywhere else in the world, meaning Asian countries can therefore provide the huge amounts of data that can help AI systems improve through machine learning techniques. For investors including Tej Kohli, investments in AI are becoming increasingly attractive, and this part of the world is likely to generate more and more interest in the years ahead.

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