Fellow Koreans and the main architects of the Republic of Korea’s artificial intelligence development,
At 3:40 a.m. one early morning in May this year, an elderly man called out “help me” to an AI speaker as he collapsed from high blood pressure. The virtual assistant recognized his shout as an emergency signal, alerted a 119 rescue squad and saved his life in the end.
Similar cases have been reported several times already. The Government has provided AI speakers to perform this function as part of its support for senior citizens who live alone.
The era of artificial intelligence is now coming into full view. Our daily use of artificial intelligence includes automatic translation services on smartphones and automotive navigation systems.
AlphaGo, which defeated the world’s strongest 9-dan Go player Lee Sedol, might be seen as just the beginning of artificial intelligence. AI has progressed to the extent of bringing innovation to industries, transforming our everyday lives and providing in-home care services. It is moving beyond scientific and technological advancements and is approaching us as a new civilization.
Today at DEVIEW 2019, Korea’s largest artificial intelligence developers conference, I am meeting with the first generation of a new type of humans who are creating an AI-based civilization.
Automobiles, one of the mainstays of our conventional flagship industries, are being fused with AI and evolving into future cars, typified by autonomous driving vehicles. Korean smart factories, known for using AI to enhance productivity and energy efficiency, has been identified as one of the “lighthouse factories” – those leading the global transformation of manufacturing. A Korean startup that applies a deep-learning algorithm to detect defects has been valued at US$200 million. Another Korean business venture that produces AI-based software to assist with medical diagnosis has been listed on the AI 100 ranking, which showcases the 100 most promising artificial intelligence companies in the world. It has attracted 20 billion won in venture investment this year alone.
Entrepreneurs and developers who are writing success stories in various AI fields, I am very reassured by and grateful to all of you. I am pleased to inform you first of the Government’s AI framework initiative.
AI is the companion of humanity. Humans became the masters of the earth as they came to have intelligence and, at the same time, began to take unlimited responsibility for this world.
Human beings might be the only creature with high intelligence in the vast universe. However, we are prone to err and often make irrational decisions. Humanity’s intellectual exploration has helped unceasingly expand its own intellectual ability. AI is the culmination of a human dream to constantly complement shortcomings and become more perfect.
The era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is indeed an age in which imagination can change the world.
Korea is neither the first country to have ushered in the era of artificial intelligence nor the country with the best AI technology at present. However, the country has people capable of turning their imagination into reality and taking on challenges to pursue novelty.
Even in the throes of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the country led the Internet Revolution and now boasts world-class manufacturing competitiveness, globally unmatched ICT infrastructure and abundant data concerning e-government.
If we link artificial intelligence primarily with the sectors in which we’ve accumulated extensive experience and competitiveness, such as manufacturing and semiconductors, we will be able to give birth to the smartest yet most humanlike artificial intelligence.
The Government will join forces with developers to help them fully utilize their imaginations and turn their ideas into reality.
First, we’ll create an environment where they can exercise their imagination to the fullest, work together and take on new challenges.
Among the numerous theories on human intelligence, I feel particularly drawn to the theory that its development has been to further cooperation.
If we ensure that developers can turn their imagination into reality by switching to a so-called negative regulatory system defined by the principle of “approve first, regulate later” and if we enable scientists, engineers, artists and students to cooperate by boldly tearing down barriers between different sectors, our country’s AI will bring about the fastest progress in the world.
We will also create a new model of global cooperation through an AI Olympics, a festival of creative ideas and technologies, and the AI Grand Challenge where the best brains participate in solving pending issues.
In addition to existing policies concerning the establishment of AI graduate schools and the Innovation Academy, we will allow universities to create new, or expand existing, majors related to high-tech fields. University professors will be permitted to hold positions in companies concurrently, which will help attract the world’s best minds to our country. We will actively cooperate with the National Assembly to ensure that the three bills concerning the data economy are passed before the end of this year.
Second, we will provide support companies to earn profits.
The Government has earmarked 1.7 trillion won in next year's budget for data, networks and AI, up 50 percent from this year. We will create an environment in which companies can confidently invest in areas where they’re competitive and quickly make profits.
We will intensively funnel our policy funds into startups that will determine our future and will create an industrial ecosystem where innovation continues perpetually. The Government will make preemptive investments in such sectors as next-generation AI chips so as to secure a leading position in the global market.
Data and cloud computing are needed in the age of AI. The Government will fundamentally innovate the establishment, opening and utilization of data sources at every stage. Open data will be made available to the public in principle, and the Government will expand its support for the high-capacity cloud computing needed for the development of AI by businesses, universities and research institutions.
Third, we will be unrivalled in terms of our use of AI.
The more people use AI without fear, the more our industry can grow.
Opportunities to learn about AI will be provided to everyone: young people in their 20s searching for jobs, employees in their 30s and 40s seeking career changes, those in their 50s and 60s preparing for a second-career opportunity after retirement, and seniors. The Government will make sure that AI can be utilized and consumed without restraint.
Fourth, the Government will become AI-oriented.
Right after the inauguration, my Administration launched the Presidential Committee on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. It selected data, networks and AI as three new innovative industries and has supported them. Last year, the AI R&D strategy and data industry vitalization strategy were put in place at the pan-government level and have steadily been implemented. The Government itself will actively use and support AI at every opportunity.
We will transform ourselves into an AI-based digital government, going beyond the world’s best e-government. We will provide high-quality services, starting with those areas that can directly impact the people’s lives such as the environment, disasters, safety and national defense, so that the public can sense the changes. The Government’s public services will also be transitioned to internet- and smartphone-based ones.
Fellow Koreans, distinguished AI developers and Entrepreneurs,
The advancement of AI will lead humanity into a world never experienced before. AI will not only affect industrial sectors but also solve many issues facing our society: public health in an aging society, welfare for senior citizens living alone, the safety of women living by themselves and the prevention of crimes that are becoming more sophisticated.
Let us work together so that AI can operate in a people-centered manner and become a driving force behind social innovation. By the end of this year, the Government will propose a national AI strategy based on this framework initiative for a completely new AI. The Government will also pay special attention to changes in the job market and AI-related ethical issues.
The development of innovative technologies will be achieved through sharing and interaction like at DEVIEW 2019. I ask you to share your rich experience and wisdom filled with innovative imagination. I hope everyone will work together to realize our dream.