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Malaysia to get its first AI park

Malaysia’s first artificial intelligence park to be developed by a trio of local and Chinese firms is expected to raise the country’s standing in the global race for AI supremacy

Malaysia is gearing up for the artificial intelligence (AI) race with a $1bn AI park to be set up by a trio of Malaysian and Chinese companies aimed at spurring AI developments in the country.

The park, focused on building AI applications that take advantage of computer vision, speech recognition and natural language processing, will be built by engineering contractor China Harbour Engineering Company, G3 Global, a Malaysian apparel company that has diversified into IT, and Chinese AI firm SenseTime.

It will also serve as a platform to groom local artificial intelligence talent, and support efforts to build a commercial AI ecosystem and advance AI research in Malaysia.

“We see huge potential of AI in Malaysia and we can’t wait to raise the bar of our nation with other countries,” said Wan Khalik Wan Muhammad, executive chairman of G3 Global.

“The idea to set up the AI park is vital to build AI research-related public service infrastructure as the base to promote AI technology in Malaysia. In addition, this becomes a place for talents to be trained on AI and machine learning,” he added.

Noting that AI has become a tool for Malaysian organisations to glean business insights and increase productivity, Wan Khalik expects the AI park to have a “huge impact” on government agencies, as well as banking, manufacturing and healthcare industries.

The AI park was announced during Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad’s visit to SenseTime’s premises in Beijing last week where the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was held.

During a demonstration of SenseTime’s AI capabilities in areas such as autonomous driving, smart cities, education and healthcare, Mahathir noted that there are plenty of application scenarios for those technologies in Malaysia. With a passion for driving, Mahathir also tried out a self-driving car system.

“With advanced AI technology and extensive business experience, SenseTime is honoured to be part of Malaysia’s new journey. We look forward to working together with Malaysian government, academia and business sectors, bringing our technological expertise and experience to Malaysia and building a better world with AI technology,” said SenseTime founder Tang Xiao’ou.

The location of Malaysia’s first AI park has not been set. As part of their collaboration, SenseTime will build an AI and supercomputing platform for research and cloud services, while G3 Global will facilitate the park’s development and form partnerships with industry and academia to support the park’s activities.

Malaysia is one of the few countries with a national big data analytics framework to encourage adoption of big data across industries. Building on this framework, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) is expected to introduce a national AI framework by the end of this year.

In 2018, MDEC teamed up with Chinese cloud computing bigwig Alibaba Cloud to roll out an AI platform aimed at easing Kuala Lumpur’s notorious traffic congestion.

Dubbed Malaysia City Brain, the platform harnesses Alibaba Cloud’s AI capabilities such as video and image recognition, data mining and machine learning, to analyse massive amounts of real-time data generated by 382 camera feeds and 281 traffic light junctions in the capital city.

However, despite the clear benefits of AI, however, only 41% of enterprises in Asia-Pacific have embarked on their AI journey, according to a recent Microsoft-sponsored study by IDC.

“AI is a game-changer and is key to driving competitiveness, not just for organisations, but also for economies,” said Victor Lim, vice-president for consulting operations at IDC Asia-Pacific. “This is an ongoing race, and those that have not started will be left behind.”

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