Microsoft, ministry to develop AI lab
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Microsoft, ministry to develop AI lab

Mr Dhanawat (right), Mr Rewat (centre) and Mr Thuchakorn discuss artificial intelligence at the news briefing. (Photo by Tharittawat Samejaidee)
Mr Dhanawat (right), Mr Rewat (centre) and Mr Thuchakorn discuss artificial intelligence at the news briefing. (Photo by Tharittawat Samejaidee)

Microsoft Thailand is working with the Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry to establish an artificial intelligence (AI) lab to cater to the farming sector and the smart city project.

"We signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the project and are in the process of developing it," said Dhanawat Suthumpun, managing director of Microsoft Thailand.

He said the project lets users link with the Microsoft research lab, where they can access intellectual properties from around the world that can be shared.

Microsoft is working with the DES Ministry's Digital Economy Promotion Agency to localise this knowledge for the agriculture sector and smart city scheme, Mr Dhanawat said.

Under the scheme, a digital platform will be set up to cater to startups who can develop on top of it.

"Startups, universities and R&D organisations will step in to develop," Mr Dhanawat said.

Microsoft Thailand signed a separate MoU with the Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Ministry to set up digital training classes.

People can choose positions for which they want to train, such as data scientist, data engineer, cloud architect or even Microsoft Office programmer, Mr Dhanawat said.

A total of 25 universities have agreed to work with Microsoft to set up the classes, with more than 200 universities targeted to work with the company on developing classes in the future, he said.

The universities will also open the door for private companies to have their personnel reskilled through the courses.

Mr Dhanawat was speaking at a news briefing during Microsoft Envision Summit 2019, which was held recently in Bangkok and focused on AI technology.

According to Mr Dhanawat, AI technology is gaining traction in the country.

"The time has come for AI in Thailand," he said.

He gave the example of the agro-industrial conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Foods (CPF), which uses AI technology to monitor pig farms.

CPF worked with Sertis, a Bangkok-based AI and blockchain consultancy, to develop the CPF AI farm lab, which issues alerts automatically if anyone trespasses in prohibited areas and thus risks having the livestock exposed to diseases. The detection is automatically done via CCTV cameras.

Rewat Hathaisattayapong, chief operating officer of CPF's livestock feed business, said raising livestock in Thailand is mainly a large-scale business.

"The key to animal husbandry is disease prevention," Mr Rewat said.

The technology is also being offered to customers who raise livestock and receive animal feed from CPF, he said. The next target will be CPF's own farms across the country and overseas.

Additionally, Internet of Things technology could be adopted at farms to monitor and control humidity levels and temperatures most suitable for livestock, Mr Rewat said.

Thuchakorn Vachiramon, chief executive of Sertis, said major organisations in Thailand are likely to adopt AI technology within one or two years. The technology will be used in all parts of operations, he said.

"AI technology is not meant to be used to replace humans at work," Mr Thuchakorn said. "It will support humans to work better."

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