South Korea has been a burgeoning economy for the last few decades and the arrival of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will positively impact the country. It is the leading innovator in the world and the World Economic Forum (WEF) has noted that South Koreans filed the maximum number of patents in 2017 with Samsung being the numero uno company in the technology sector to drive innovation and growth across the world. South Korea is well poised to take the lead in driving innovation in the field of AI as well. AI for social good in South Korea has acquired an interesting dimension since the government has decided to focus on human resources, technology and innovation in the country.
According to a report published by Forbes, the South Koreans are aggressively contesting the Chinese for AI supremacy in Asia and the South Korean government has pledged to be a leading contender in this field by 2022. For starters, Research & Development (R&D) in the field of AI is being given substantial importance with six new schools specializing in AI coming up in a big way in the country. An R&D project on the lines of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has been given a green signal by the state’s administration. The government had initially decided to pump in invest ₩1 trillion (US$863 million) to develop AI in the country after DeepMind’s AlphaGo had defeated defeated Korean Go Master Lee Sedol in 2016. The investment has now been revised and the government plans to invest another ₩2.2 trillion (US$2 billion) by 2022 to strengthen its AI R&D capability.
Human Resources, Technology and Innovation
AI and Human Resources (HR) share an intimate relationship with AI affecting human life in multiple ways from automating tedious, time consuming tasks to augmenting human capabilities and amplifying human functions. HRMAsia has noted that 63% of HR leaders in the Asia Pacific region have embraced AI and believe that AI will have a profound impact on their organizations in one way or the other in some way in the next five years. Similarly, 26% HR leaders believe that AI has had a considerable impact on their industry already! The availability of chatbots and sentiment analysis techniques through AI has made AI an integral part of the field of HR. The chatbots help in the recruitment process while the sentiment analysis techniques helps employers to know which employees are on their way out.
South Korea faces major challenges in the development of AI that relate to its project selection, lack of AI talent in the country and lack of venture capitalists in the country and the overall slow development of AI in South Korea.
South Korea is facing the heat of the international community over its attempts to allow the creation of “autonomous weapons” with the help of AI. The Korea Advanced University of Science and Technology (KAIST) has decided to partner Hanwha Systems which is Korea’s largest defense partner and manufactures cluster munitions which are already banned in 120 countries across the world under an international treaty. KAIST is now facing a ban from over 30 countries across the world. This is a major issue as it concerns human lives and research that can have devastating consequences for human civilization.
Therefore, South Korea needs to initiate plans to develop AI in only those sectors that will not lead to war making in the world.
While South Korea needs to choose its AI projects sagaciously, AI development in South Korea is limited due to the lack of engineers in the country. The absence of an AI centric talent pool is costing South Korea
This piece is written by Anuttama Banerji. Anuttama is Associate Researcher at Govern.