Thailand needs national AI capability
MAY 26, 2017
Artificial Intelligence will bring change to many industries. If we don’t develop our own AI industry, we will need to rely on other countries’ AIs, and this would both be a disaster for our industries as well as be a threat to our national security.
From customer service to legal to medicine, Artificial Intelligence or AI is set to revolutionise the world. AI will allow computers to do jobs that traditionally have only been done by humans. This will free our workforce from doing boring tasks and boost our country’s productivity. However, if we rely on AIs from other countries, we risk losing having any control of key industries.
Legal industry is at the forefront of this AI revolution. JP Morgan, the US banking giant, has recently developed an AI that helps the bank review contracts. This has saved the bank 360,000 hours of work for its lawyers. Not only can the AI review a contract in seconds, it is also more accurate and doesn’t need holidays. This saves the bank a lot of money and reduces errors for their legal team.
What if our companies start using foreign AIs to analyse and write our contracts? Yes, there would be cost savings, but we will be giving up the control of our legal industry to other countries. How our laws are interpreted will be shaped by foreign AIs who might not have our nation’s interests at heart. Thai laws and how they are interpreted is key to how our country functions, we need to make sure they are not being twisted into something that no longer serves our country. AI itself is not the threat; it is who built and controlled the AIs that need to be regulated.
Another field being shaped by AI is medicine. AIs is helping doctors diagnose more quickly and more accurately. AI is helping doctors spot tumors in x-ray images and automatically evaluate heart health in MRI scans. This ensures less missed diagnosis.
At this point, the focus is on diagnosis, but at some point, AI will also start helping doctors with treatment as well. Luckily, medicine in Thailand is highly regulated, but if AI proves to be much more effective, countries that embrace this technology will be able to steal our crown of being the number medical tourist hub of the world.
We can choose to close ourselves off from the AI revolution. But this will just make the pain worse in the future. Look at the century of pain China went through because of the Qing dynasty’s delayed the adoption of the industrial revolution.
My suggestion is we need to embrace the incoming change. But to ensure that Thailand is not left behind, we need to have our own AI champions who will ensure that key industries are served by Thai AIs and not some foreign creations.
Two areas of AI research that Sertis is pursuing is Thai language processing, something that will be key to fields such as legal and customer support, and medical diagnostic. By recruiting global talents and partnering with top Thai universities, we hope to drive the AI industry forward in Thailand with our team of nearly 50 specialists.
Other companies are also looking into AI. Jaosua Dhanin himself highlighted the importance of AI in a recent interview. His vision combined with K. Supakit’s and K. Supachai’s drive to make CP into a global company will mean CP will be a strong force in Thai AI. Banks such as SCB are also creating new investment arms that are actively investing in AI technology. We need such visionary companies to help drive our AI capability forward.
The government has also placed a much stronger emphasis on the tech industry with its Thailand 4.0 roadmap. I believe AI will fit naturally into this vision and we hope to see more active support from the government into this space.
We are lucky to be living in such an exciting time of change. Instead of fearing for what this change will bring, we should embrace it. For Thailand to continue our growth, we must not rely solely on foreign AI. By having a strong national AI capability, we will ensure prosperity for the future Thai generations.
This article has been published for the first time in Thai on Think Data Science Column at Bangkok Biz News 07.04.17