Still in a nascent stage . . .
While the advent of Industry 4.0 has propelled waves of digital transformation across Southeast Asia, the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) in the region is still in a nascent stage. A newly-released study on AI in Southeast Asia projects that the increasing embrace of AI could add nearly C$1.3 trillion to the region’s GDP by 2030. The road ahead is a bumpy one as there is a huge investment gap in AI solutions between Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members. While Singapore was well ahead with C$89 worth of AI investment per capita, the remaining key ASEAN countries lagged far behind with under C$1 per capita from 2015 through 2019.
Prevalent challenges . . .
Although AI could potentially add between 10 to 18 per cent to ASEAN economies’ GDP, five major challenges to the adoption of emerging technologies in the region may hinder the realization of this economic uplift. The report specifically flags talent gaps, fragmented AI ecosystems, inadequate data governance, regulatory bottlenecks in terms of privacy and data sharing restrictions, and negative attitudes toward AI. While these challenges have been prevalent for the past five to six years, the new study argues that the talent gap is over-emphasized because of the “increasing availability of easy-to-deploy AI models.”
Unlocking AI potential . . .
Major ASEAN countries have started to develop either national AI strategies or national Industry 4.0 strategies with strong emphases on AI, with Indonesia as the latest country to release its national AI plan. To unlock the vast potential in AI, it is imperative that governments harmonize AI regulations across ASEAN, encourage more investment in AI, and build a workforce ready for Industry 4.0. As Canada emerges as a global leader in AI, there are enormous opportunities for collaboration between Canada and ASEAN.
- Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada: Indonesia leans on artificial intelligence for development
- Economic Development Board: Racing toward the future: Artificial intelligence in Southeast Asia
- Nikkei Asia: ASEAN faces wide AI gap as Vietnam and Philippines lag behind