Country eyes regional AI hub status by 2027

Country eyes regional AI hub status by 2027

Innovation adoption set to drive growth

Visitors check out some exhibits at the AI Thailand Forum 2023 at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in August. (Photo: Nutthawat Wichieanbut)
Visitors check out some exhibits at the AI Thailand Forum 2023 at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in August. (Photo: Nutthawat Wichieanbut)

Thailand wants to become the artificial intelligence (AI) hub of Southeast Asia by 2027, attracting more foreign technology investment in cloud data centres, says Digital Economy and Society (DES) Minister Prasert Jantanaruangthong.

The goal could be achieved through the ministry's "cloud first" policy, which focuses on promoting the public's use of a planned single digital ID platform when utilising government services, and the creation of a new workforce trained in AI skills, he said.

The country plans to implement the second phase of the national AI strategy roadmap in 2024. The roadmap covers 2022 to 2027, with the aim of generating 48 billion baht in business and social impacts by 2027.

The government is aiming for the country to become Asean's AI hub within the next four years as part of the adoption of innovation to drive the country's economic growth and ensure inclusive equality for social development, Mr Prasert said after delivering a keynote speech on Monday at the Huawei Cloud AI Summit Thailand 2023.

The National Digital Economy and Society Commission will hold a meeting by Dec 22 chaired by the prime minister with a key agenda aimed at prioritising the second phase of the national AI strategy roadmap.

It will also discuss the plan to have a national digital ID as a single platform for everyone to access government services as well as those provided by the private sector. There are multiple ID platforms used by different state organisations at present.

Moreover, the country is also collaborating with tech giants based in the US, China and Japan to build cloud data centres, he added.

At the Huawei summit, Mr Prasert signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Huawei covering four areas: building knowledge based on AI for Thailand by building specific use cases; enabling the ministry's transition towards a digital economy and society; training employees in the field of AI; and the reskilling and upskilling of employees in small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups while persuading its partners to exchange their technology with Thailand.

The signing of the MoU forms part of the partnership between the ministry and Huawei to build generative AI use cases and applications using the Thai language.

The pact aims to build the ecosystem and develop AI skills among members of the workforce, possibly creating 50,000 skilled workers within five years in order to strengthen the country's position in its efforts to become a regional AI hub.

David Li, chief executive of Huawei Thailand, said AI represents a great breakthrough and was developed to eventually generate content. AI has evolved and wouldn't be only for consumers but would also accelerate the development of basic apps and later develop core industry apps such as autonomous telecom networks or for financial risk control.

He said Huawei is at present the only cloud vendor with three data centres in Thailand and it is the largest investor in the AI industry in Thailand.

Within the next two years, he believes 50% of the core app industry would be driven by AI.

Mr Li said Huawei is willing to help Thailand, the government, and industries pilot AI for the future and serve rapid digital development in the transformative AI era.

The government's national AI strategy aims to raise the country's position in the AI readiness index from 59th in 2021 to the top 50 within 2025 and generate 48 billion baht in business and social impacts by 2027.

He said Huawei is helping Thailand achieve these targets.

Huawei has AI value propositions by having a Thai language model, trained on a Thai corpus (a data set used to train the AI system) and this has converged with Huawei's industry knowledge accumulated over three decades. This breakthrough removes language barriers to accessing foundation models, allowing Thailand to transition from an AI user to an AI creator.

In meteorology, Huawei Cloud collaborated with Thailand's Meteorological Department to develop the Pangu weather model for the country in an effort to deepen the digitisation of Thailand's agricultural and tourism sectors.

The model has already surpassed current state-of-the-art numerical weather prediction methods with prediction speeds several orders of magnitude faster.

Predicting the trajectory of a typhoon over a period of 10 days would usually take five hours. However, the Pangu weather model allows the same prediction to be calculated in 10 seconds.

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