AI is the way forward

Artist’s impression of SIC, which will house three main hubs, including a Regional R&D Hub. — Skymind

Skymind Future Cities managing director Eow Wan Lin said the company is currently in discussions with Johor to build Skymind Innovation City (SIC) for creating and testing artificial intelligence-powered technologies at Iskandar Malaysia.

“Skymind Innovation City will create a platform for enterprises and industries to develop their own AI applications, and equip them with tools to be innovators in the industry by building a stronger AI ecosystem,” he said in a statement.

He explained that SIC will focus on three main hubs: a Talent Hub for developing a skilled workforce in AI, an Innovation Hub for enabling AI innovators and a Regional R&D Hub for research and development of AI applications.

Eow sees SIC as the company’s way of supporting Johor’s Digital Agenda and innovation programmes to develop a vibrant ecosystem for growth in the digital space.

At the recent virtual World AI Conference Shanghai 2021, Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad said a robust upskilling and reskilling programme will be set up to ensure that the state is on track to become an AI powerhouse.

Policies too will be established, he said, to forge partnerships with the private sector and to support innovation in AI.

A Special Digital Economic Zone will be developed for companies to research and build smart solutions for manufacturing, he added.

Eow said the announcement by Hasni shows support for the innovation economy, which has to be bolstered by government policies, technology and entrepreneurship.

“These factors should be the main goal, along with developing effective private-public partnerships that spark increased innovation and productivity,” he said.

Nations such as South Korea and Taiwan which have invested a higher percentage of their GDP into innovation performed much better in terms of GDP per capita growth than countries that didn’t, he said, citing a report by The Conversation.

“South Korea was badly impacted by the economic slump in 1997. But today it is one of the most successful economies in the world.

“It has emerged as the most innovative country in the world, topping the 2021 Bloomberg Innovation Index released in February,” he said.

The country’s achievement is largely attributed to the commitment of South Korean businesses and the authorities in investing in the country’s future growth even when encountering tough headwinds at home and abroad, said Eow.

Malaysia currently ranks eighth in Asia and 33rd in the world in the Global Innovation Index 2020, he said, adding that it has the potential to improve by tapping into the AI revolution.

“Capital or investment in research and development will ensure that the country produces better products and services, and introduces new ones,” he said.

He shared that Skymind’s mission is to enable and empower the development of AI applications in Malaysia with tools, support systems and investments.

“To remain competitive in a world on the cusp of super connectivity, it’s crucial that Malaysia accelerates its capacity for innovation,” he said.

He quoted the Global Artificial Intelligence Study: Exploiting The AI Revolution report by PwC, which predicted that AI will contribute US$15.7 trillion (RM65.9 trillion) to the global GDP by 2030.

“In short, the impact of AI over the next decade will be monumental. It is imperative that Malaysia jumps onto the bandwagon,” he said.

And the establishment of “innovation cities” would have a multiplier effect that would give AI companies greater reach into the region, said Eow, adding that Skymind wants to help Malaysia grow into an “AI nation”.

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