Vietnam Leads Frontier Asia with AI Awakening

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This article was originally posted on Highland Mirror.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is taking a centre stage all across the globe and Vietnam has also joined the race. The experts feel that this can be a real boost for the Vietnamese technology start-ups. The Vietnamese are new to this field of AI, which is already in use in many parts of the globe. In Vietnam, they have introduced chatbots and image recognition. A group of developers have introduced Hana recently in August. It is an artificial intelligence program, which answers the queries of the customers in human voice.

AI is the new in-thing and Dr Hsiao-Wuen Hon, the corporate vice president at Microsoft Research Asia explains it beautifully. According to him, “Computers are the best-ever left brain for logic and rationality, while humans have the best-ever right brain for creativity, judgment and wisdom, so together, man and machine create the best of both worlds.

In Vietnam, AI is in the introductory phase and can be implemented across many verticals to either assist or replace humans in days to come. As of now, a healthcare app, ViCare is using AI to reply to the users’ questions about clinic facilities, doctors and also regarding the remedies. This app by Cyberagent Ventures has a big database that covers some 22,000 doctors and 21,000 healthcare facilities throughout the country. The mode of communication with this is through the Facebook Messenger.

Another product is helping the agriculture community in the country. It helps the farmers to detect abnormalities in the crop in advance making use of AI imagery engine.

Cinnamon Al Lab sees AI use in Vietnam as an intriguing opportunity. Its project director, Nghiem Xuan Bach said, “Local engineers are strong in technology, therefore they should focus on the tech rather than on doing commercial startups. That is an advantage that will help Vietnam become competitive in the global tech scene.”

Most of the experts in the field feel that the local talent in AI is concentrating only on the technical side. They have a word of advice for them when they suggest that they should in fact design products after understanding the problems faced by the customers. Their products in AI should provide solutions to these problems rather than be technically superior without addressing the real problem.

Bach feels that the country needs to quickly start developing their own research system and talent pool if they want to benefit from the advantages of AI boom happening in Asia. The entire ecosystem needs to gear up for it. It includes the educational institutes, investors and government who needs to work together to nurture the young talent and help them in all the possible ways. As of now, the investments in AI are sporadic both due to fierce competition and because of scepticism that this business model will sustain. The investors will have to bear in mind that “Things like AI and machine learning are inevitable transformation tools of future.”

Cinnamon AI Lab, that is launched by Japanese angel investor Hajime Hotta has taken industry-level initiatives and has plans to develop 100 AI developers by the end of 2017. Around 250 students applied for the six-month training program announced by Cinnamon AI Lab. These students were from the top tech institutes and few of them are getting hands-on training in real projects. The centre wants to work as AI incubator in the country while having few potential start-ups under its wings.


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