Vice-President of Microsoft group: "Asia is the next potential area for AI development"
"In recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has always been a hot topic - an abstract science fiction, has now become one of the most important topic in Microsoft's discussion with customers, partners, and leaders in technology field in Asia", Ralph Haupter, president of Microsoft Asia and vice-president of Microsoft group said.
Until now, AI has gone through a long jounney - almost seven decades of development. However, for over years, the convergence of big data, cloud computing, accompanied with breakthroughs in software algorithms and machine, creating new interesting vistas of AI deployment possibility.
Today, AI is the center of digital transformation in organizations, even countries. By 2019, IDC predicts 40% of digital transformation ideas will be supported by AI and cognitive capabilities, in order to give opportune important analysis for operational and monetary model in the region.
With imagination and rich data, AI can bring enormous benefits. Microsoftand partners run an AI-applied project to help tourists in Japan to navigate direction easily. Over 28 million tourists come to Japan evey year and in 2020, this number will be increased because of the Tokyo Olympics. In the fact that, it is difficult for tourists to find way in Japan - and it's time for AI to support.
Miko is an AI-based chatbox, a star of new mobile travel app - Japan Trip Navigator. Created by Microsoft, travel agnecy JTB Corp and NAVITIME Co, Miko provides tourists in Japan with the information about accurate time from trusted sources as well as other users. Miko can also help tourists in hotel booking and more.
Moreover, one of interesting and advanced function of Miko is that it has ability of image recognition used on Microsoft's Cognitive Services AI platform, so Miko can provide information to users through photos that they took.
Asia will be the key to global AI development
The representative of Microsoft show three reasons for choosing Asia as key area of AI development on broad scale:
AI needs data: AI depends on data to operate; the more data inserted into AI system, the better. Asia is not only the region with the largest population in the world, but also digital-associated area more than other regions, thus it can provide large amount of data which AI system need to develop.
At Microsoft, this is an unique strength - we developed our business infographics for Windows, Office, LinkedIn, Bing, Cortana and other partners, helps us to improve AI tools to meet human's demand. As a comon sense, approaching to AI will come up ethical controversies, for example, right to access and use data properly. At Microsoft, we have identified six ethical factors - fairness, trustworthiness and safety, security and privacy, inclusiveness, transparency and accountability - to develop and us artificial intelligence morally.
AI needs talent: While we can foresee the widespread AI application in this year, developing powerful and complicated AI programs will take a lot of time. This requires strong human resources, deeply understand about science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) that technology companies and research institutions can use to enhance their AI capacity. These talents highly seem to originate from Asia. For instance, sccording to USB, by 2025, AI human resources in China and India will exceed ones in US.
At Microsoft, we can see the potential for approaching key technical talent in Asia 20 years ago, when we had just established the Microsoft Asia Research Center in Beijing in 1998. This center has grown to the largest Research and Development center in US, included hundreds of researchers, software developers, and scientists working together for enduring technology challenges.
We built a similar research lab - Microsoft India Research Center - located in bangalore, these two global-scale facilities achieve leading advances in AI world. For example, Microsoft Asia Research Center recently has been one of the first team to develop automatic translation systems, enable to translate newspapers from Chinese into English with high quality and accuracy.
AI needs to be recieved: As stated, the more data that is added to AI system, the better. The population is receptive to get a better life through degital techonology. In addition, lots of Asian countries adopt techonology lately, which enables them to surpass other countries that are still dependent on old facilities, to embrace new way of living and working.
Microsoft's AI investment in Asia
We expect to see the future of AI in this area and have prioritized four key fields to ensure the most effective AI exploitation with our customers and partners now and also in the future.
Develop AI capabilities The development of AI will nothappen without STEM talents over the world leading research and development, creation and application. We will go on collaborating with government, technology agencies and organizations to improve AI capabilities in the region. For example, we invest $33 million to Taiwan Government with the purpose of establishing an AI Research and Development department in Taiwan to transform technology and industry in this island nation.
Develop the partner ecosystem: We stress on transforming the IT partnership ecosystem across Asia in order to bring AI capabilities to markets, more focus on government, education. health, manufacturing, financial services and retail. As recently announced, we commit to invest $500 million over the next two years to support business collaborations with start-up enterprises, allowing them to approach our technology, and community organizations that promote synergy between local and global ecosystems.
Set the AI platform We are continue to enhance the basis of super-scaled cloud - Microsoft Azure - and ability to create secure and robust AI in the region. Nowadays, Azure serves customers in 140 countries around the world through 50 global Azure center - including 15 centers located in Asia, bigger than any cloud provider. This gives our customers and partners sacle needed to launch safe large-scale AI programs around the world.
Enhance skills of resources in Asia: We commit to work with individual organizations and community to retrain employees to ready for developing in an AI-driven digital world. Recently, Microsoft has launched the National Skills Program in South Australia, cooperated with National Development Department and the Salisbury City to provide digital skills for automative supply chain workers who had been fired after closing of Holden factory in Elizabeth in the late of 2017.
"I believe that this time is the century of Asia. And AI bring unprecedented opportunity for Asia to thrive, increase productivity and innovation, as well as the ability to tackle some important social challenges in the region", said by Ralph Haupter "This's definitely a wonderful journey; so let's join in - the AI revolution is just beginning"