AI takes centre stage for overall successes

September 02, 2021 | 11:32
The adoption of AI to address urgent global issues is also taking place in Vietnam, with AI-enabled tech slated to drive forward digital transformation across areas as diverse as healthcare, transport, and education.
AI takes centre stage for overall successes
AI takes centre stage for overall successes

The AI Day 2021 online event, themed on empowering innovations, was organised last week from Hanoi over two days with the aim of unlocking solutions to developing AI in Vietnam. Key speakers agreed that AI is a core technology of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, making an important contribution to creating a breakthrough development in production capacity, improving national-level competitiveness, and promoting sustainable economic development.

By 2030, the government targets Vietnam to become a global centre for innovation and development of AI solutions and applications, especially in the region. Already, Vietnam is in the top four leading countries in ASEAN and top 50 worldwide in research and development (R&D) and application of AI.

According to VinAI Research, the tech arm of Vingroup that organised AI Day, Vietnam will have at least one representative in the top 20 leading AI research and training institutions in Southeast Asia by the end of the decade. The country will build 10 prestigious AI trade brands in the region, develop three national centres for large data storage and high-performance computing, and form several innovation centres for AI. Around 50 databases will be formed in economic sectors and socioeconomic fields to serve R&D and application of AI.

From healthcare and education to transportation, AI could improve the delivery of public services, VinAI Research said. Thus, the Vietnamese government has positioned itself to take advantage of this AI-powered transformation.

In 2020, Vietnam ranked 76th out of 172 countries and territories in the 2020 Government AI Readiness Index, with AI noted in a number of government policies. Over the years, the government has announced several projects for smart city development and national digital transformation. Local authorities also have jumped on the bandwagon – Hanoi takes part in the ASEAN Smart Cities Network while Ho Chi Minh City has released a separate plan for AI application.

Bui The Duy, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, said, “From 2006 to 2020, nearly 100 national projects related to AI have been funded by the government worth VND170 billion ($7.45 million). There has been a trend for IT companies to invest in AI in Vietnam such as Vingroup and FPT.”

However, AI adoption in industry, agriculture, and healthcare is limited, he added “Some surveys revealed that only 13.6 per cent of companies have applied AI while 36.4 per cent have intentions to invest in it. Vietnam’s AI market is quite small with limited open platforms, and there are only 65 startups in the industry. Thus, it needs more efforts to transform Vietnam into an AI hub for the region.”

FPT plans to spend over VND300 billion ($13 million) on R&D for AI in the next five years.

Bui Hai Hung, general director of VinAI Research, said, “Over the years, AI has become an effective tool to contribute to solving difficulties as well as creating many opportunities for Vietnamese businesses. Despite possessing great potential, development in the field in this country still encounters many obstacles – but as a leader in AI research and application, we aim to bring Vietnamese AI products to the world.”

Hung also noted that AI-induced products could help in the battle against COVID-19 on various levels, in terms of monitoring distance activities in public places and in isolation areas; and detect people not wearing masks in crowded places.

“From data obtained through the pandemic, AI can analyse and make predictions about the next scale of the outbreak, provide real-time scenarios, and help authorities proactively respond to high-risk zones,” he said.

AI development in Vietnam is not geographically limited within a domestic scale. In April, the country inked a deal with South Korean tech giant Naver Group as a part of its long-term national strategy.

The following month, a $2.7 million package from the Australian government was committed to the knowledge and innovation of Vietnam in the sectors of future digital economy (including digital technology and AI) and resilient agriculture and food systems.

And another major conglomerate from South Korea – Samsung – last week also confirmed its target to invest around $206 billion over the next three years in semiconductors, AI, and also biopharmaceutical products.

By Luu Bui

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