May 17, 2024

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Pro-Vice-Chancellor UTM KL welcoming Professor Olaf and participants of the roundtable and encourage active participation to discuss the AI agenda for the nation

What’s Next for FAI and MAIC: UTM Hosts Roundtable on Catalyzing AI Development in Malaysia with Professor Olaf J. Groth

In conjunction with the launch of Malaysia’s first Faculty of Artificial Intelligence (FAI), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) hosted Professor Olaf J. Groth, a prominent figure in business strategies, for a roundtable discussion. The focus was on deliberating the directions and ways Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be implemented in Malaysia. The primary aim of the discussion was to brainstorm how FAI and the Malaysia Artificial Intelligence Consortium (MAIC) can catalyze national development through innovative AI solutions.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor UTM KL welcoming Professor Olaf and participants of the roundtable and encourage active participation to discuss the AI agenda for the nation

Pro-Vice-Chancellor UTM Kuala Lumpur welcoming Professor Olaf and participants of the roundtable and encourage active participation to discuss the AI agenda for the nation

The roundtable was kicked off in a grand manner, where we witnessed in-depth discussions on AI implementation at the country level: whether it should be AI-first or AI-second. Malaysia, considering its current position, might not be able to start a giant AI powerhouse like NVIDIA, citing concerns about limited resources and human capacities. Hence, strategies to increase AI adoption in Malaysia have to be an approach tailored to local strengths and conditions. Such limitations also call for leveraging existing and new partnerships, especially with global players in AI, to attempt to accelerate the “learning speed,” leaning towards bolstering existing strengths rather than attempting to pioneer new frontiers.

Another topic of interest was ethics. Based on his vast experience in consulting with countries and businesses alike, Professor Olaf stressed the importance of building trust through ethics. It is only through trust that businesses (AI included) build intimacy and relationships with customers (and stakeholders). This could vastly improve public acceptance of AI and, more importantly, awareness of AI in terms of its risks, and what AI can and cannot do. As a result, AI adoption could be naturally integrated into societal norms.

It was noted during the roundtable, particularly from a report commissioned by MyDIGITAL, that there is a potential economic impact of RM 113 billion if businesses in Malaysia adopt AI technology. However, in reality, the AI adoption in Malaysia has yet to fully been accelerated. This could be possible due to the fact that the majority of the businesses in Malaysia are small and medium enterprises, which are very cost-conscious and lack the desire to invest in technology that is uncertain in value return.

Mr Calvin Woo from MyDIGITAL shares his thoughts on a report commissioned by the agency on the potential economic impact of AI adoption in business while acknowledging challenges faced by the traditional business community in investing in AI.
Mr. Calvin Woo from MyDIGITAL shares his thoughts on a report commissioned by the agency on the potential economic impact of AI adoption in business while acknowledging challenges faced by the traditional business community in investing in AI.

The second session of the roundtable discussion moved the topic to integrating AI into business and technology, particularly highlighting public awareness (and the associated fear) of AI. This calls for top-to-bottom awareness and educational programs, supported by government policies and initiatives to engage the public and build trust. The awareness program needs to be implemented as soon as possible before the “misunderstanding” gap about AI becomes wider. The role of the government should not be underestimated as it has a direct influence on governance, policies, and technology procurement on a large scale. With the collective efforts of all parties within the AI consortium, ripple effects can be created to drive AI adoption in Malaysia through unique regional localization of technology and application, supported by good governance and ethics.

The roundtable ended with a number of recommendations derived from the contributions of all the participants clustered into two broad theme namely the need for AI capacity building focusing within the context of Malaysia and building trust in AI adoption via public engagement.

“The journey of AI requires the collective effort of every one of us here. Through strategic collaborations that span across disciplines and industries, FAI and MAIC aim to position Malaysia as a leader in responsible and sustainable AI development,” remarked Professor Abd Latif, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of UTM Kuala Lumpur, as he closed the roundtable session, hoping that more discussions would be organized to realise the transformative agenda for Malaysia.

.UTM

 

 

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