Keeping step with the neighbors

April 15, 2019
In the global AI race, South Korea looks to both China and Japan for inspiration.

This is an extract from “The ecosystem“, the first report of the four-part series, “Asia’s AI agenda”, by MIT Technology Review Insights.

To meet its ambitions for becoming a contender in the global AI race, South Korea is looking to both China and Japan for inspiration. The aggressive timelines, development targets, and strong government support all echo China’s AI program, such as South Korea’s goal to become a top-four AI market globally by 2022. South Korea’s government even aims to beat China’s 2030 timeline by several years. Yet, in an approach that is more similar to Japan, South Korean AI research is focusing on the country’s established and adjacent sectors, particularly process automation and robotics.

In May last year, South Korea’s Presidential Fourth Industrial Revolution Committee announced plans to invest some $2 billion into AI institutions, including building several new research institutes that will develop AI applications for the robotics and the automotive sectors. The country’s Ministry of Science and ICT is working to bolster the nation’s AI talent base, to the tune of nearly 5,000 new AI and data scientists by 2022, and strengthen the domestic AI semiconductor industry.

South Korea’s private sector is equally committed to advancing the AI industry. Samsung is particularly active, and has announced plans to invest $20 billion in emerging technologies, largely focused on AI research, autonomous driving, and 5G over the next three years.