ORIGIN | Malaysia must act to avoid falling behind in AI

2 min read
Md. Radzi bin Din, the Executive Director at G3 Global and William Yap, Founder of AI Malaysia, are speaking at an AI Fireside Chat session at the ORIGIN conference.
Md. Radzi bin Din, executive director of G3 Global and William Yap, the founder of AI Malaysia, speak at the AI Fireside Chat session at the ORIGIN conference on June 21, 2019. [Image credit: TechNode]

Malaysia is lagging behind regional peers in AI adoption, said Mohammad Radzi, executive director of G3 Global, during a Fireside Chat at ORIGIN, held during Malaysia Tech Week 2019. He said that the country should learn from China’s leapfrog success in the field.

Chinese AI company SenseTime is ramping up efforts to expand overseas presence with its latest deal to help build Malaysia’s first AI research park in a partnership with local AI company G3 Global. The park will also include an exhibition zone in which visitors can see AI in action.

“AI is burgeoning in Malaysia so we choose a partner who not only can grow local companies but at the same time spur AI innovation within Malaysia” said Radzi. This partnership aims to bring together and build an AI ecosystem in Malaysia. The AI park also plans to be an export centre, where Malaysian AI solutions can be exported to other countries, said Radzi.

“The AI park will be an area where visitors, not just industry professionals, can visit to experience AI solutions first hand,” said Radzi, describing a park where autonomous vehicles operate on the road and visitors can check into a condominium equipped with smart home system.

This partnership also plans to help build the country’s AI capability through an education curriculum, he said, noting that SenseTime has designed and developed an AI syllabus that is currently taught in schools across China.

Educating enterprises in Malaysia

Malaysia is trailing behind neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia on AI adoption. One contributing factor could be an AI knowledge gap among Malaysian enterprises,  Radzi said. “More could be done to educate enterprises on the potential of AI, such as improving productivity and increasing revenue generation,” said Radzi.

Size counts

China is huge, and when a proof-of-concept (POC) trial takes place, it is typically carried out on a large scale. “In contrast, kicking off a POC trial in Malaysia requires levels of authority clearance, and POC trial areas are just a fraction of what it’s like in China,” said Radzi.

AI works best if given large amounts of data sets, coupled with fast, iterative processing and intelligent algorithms. “China is able to advance its AI technologies at such a rapid pace due to the enormous amount of data collected through POC trials,” said Radzi.

China’s AI agenda advances as China throws state support behind AI development. According to the 13th Five-Year Plan timeframe (2016-2020), China has ambitions to transform itself into a superpower in science and technology. “It is great that the Chinese government is involved and actively spurring innovation within China. This could be the reason why China is advancing so rapidly in the AI race,” said Radzi.