Businesses urged to embrace potential of AI technology

Businesses urged to embrace potential of AI technology
Pictured from left are Mr Wiboon, Mr Chai and Mr Dhanawat, the panel speakers at the forum. Varuth Hirunyatheb

Artificial intelligence (AI), in particular generative AI, can create new opportunities, transform industries with a new business model, and empower new ways of working with a digital co-pilot, but its utilisation and development should be based on responsibility and governance to ensure it will not be used inappropriately, say IT industrialists.

Dhanawat Suthumpun, managing director of Microsoft Thailand, said there are several technologies that have changed the world, ranging from the internet and mobile technology to the cloud and now AI.

AI represents an opportunity for everyone in the public and private sectors, Mr Dhanawat said in a panel discussion on the topic of "AI Revolution: Profits, Progress, and Perils". It was part of the Bangkok Post Tech Conference 2023 entitled "Thailand's Innovation Redefined: New S-Curve, AI, and Virtual Banking" held on Wednesday.

AI is now ready as a user interface that enables humans to communicate with computers by using natural language, he added.

Moreover, Mr Dhanawat said that AI could gain insights from the information. The presence of the large language model from Chat GPT-4 is similar to having a supercomputer sitting next to you.

He compared AI to a co-pilot sitting next to a human, assisting in many tasks, from reading information to summarising content for them, and could even help turn human imagination into pictures.

Mr Dhanawat added that while AI can bring opportunities, its usage must come with responsibility to make sure it would not be used in the wrong way. Its usage requires governance, ethics, accountability, fairness and transparency.

He said that AI will not replace humans. It could erase some jobs but also create new ones and bring new ways of working to improve people's productivity. It would be people who control AI and make the final decisions on what it should do.

Mr Dhanawat said he expects to see a new way forward with humans co-creating content with AI rather than having the AI "auto piloting" work for them.

He also suggested the Thai government create super applications for travellers by gathering tourism data and using generative AI to suggest and recommend trip planning in line with tourist preferences.

Mr Dhanawat urged the government to allocate a huge budget to build an "AI Sandbox" for startups and state agencies to learn and work together on AI development.

At an enterprise level, AI can empower organisations in every segment to improve their operations and productivity, he added.

He suggested individuals should open their minds to understand AI, re-learn, reskill and work with AI to create more career opportunities and positive impacts.

Mr Wiboon stated that Artificial intelligence (AI) technology and workers can work together to further develop manufacturing processes and come up with innovative products in various industries.

TIME TO UPSKILL

Another panellist, Chai Wutiwiwatchai, executive director of the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (Nectec), said it was time for all enterprises to upgrade and upskill their AI literacy throughout their taskforce as this innovative technology could be a human's co-pilot, enabling the ability to grab business opportunities and public benefits.

The AI ecosystem is being developed into Artificial General Intelligence, a hypothetical type of AI that would have the ability to perform any intellectual task that a human being can.

Meanwhile, AI development requires laws, ethics and standards that need to have transparency and accountability, amid security, privacy and fairness concerns.

Mr Chai said AI can increase competitiveness, improve products and services, and boost sustainability development for all business sectors as well as the public sector.

To adopt AI, he said there are three aspects needed for enterprises to consider: benefits, easiness to pay and extend, and AI governance.

Mr Chai said the governance approach is a key driver to ensure AI reliability.

Last year, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society started providing the AI Governance Clinic to help enterprises around guidelines and standards compliance.

The office of National Digital Economy and Society Commission is drafting AI regulations which would be a framework governing AI development in the country, Mr Chai said.

Recently the National Science and Technology Development Agency and the Electronic Transactions Development Agency jointly conducted a study on business readiness to apply AI technology in offering digital services.

The teams sent questionnaires to businesses in 10 sectors, covering 3,529 companies, with 565 respondents.

The study found 15.2% of the businesses have already implemented AI, 56.7% plan to adopt it in the future, and 28.2% do not have any plans.

HAND IN HAND

AI technology and humans can work together to further develop manufacturing processes and come up with innovative products in various industries, said Wiboon Rugsancharoenpol, deputy secretary-general of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI).

"It is a challenging job for industries to adopt AI, which can enhance production capabilities and bring good results to businesses," he told a panel titled "AI Revolution: Profits, Progress and Perils".

Mr Wiboon is aware of worries among many people over the negative impact caused by AI, which can disrupt industries and replace workers, leading to unemployment.

That is not always true, he said, because many industries in Thailand are facing a labour shortage. They need more workers to help run businesses.

AI can help companies deal with various complex jobs, but they still need to be commanded by humans as people have creative power, driven by imagination, to run their work. This shows that people are still more important than AI, said Mr Wiboon.

Yet the FTI wants to wake manufacturers up to the benefits of AI and get the hang of this new technology as it can help them improve factory operations and reduce costs in the long term.

One problem is that many companies are worried that they have insufficient budgets to invest in AI technology, Mr Wiboon said.

At present, only a handful of companies are using this technology.

The FTI has cooperated closely with the private and government sectors to help entrepreneurs improve their businesses through AI and give all necessary information to those who want to adopt the technology.

"The FTI and Nectec set up a joint committee to work on a programme to introduce AI to industries," said Mr Wiboon.

"We expect to launch the programme as soon as possible."

This programme will help the manufacturing and service sectors have a greater understanding of AI and how to apply it to businesses.

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