Fostering homegrown tech in Msia to stay ahead of the AI race

Fostering homegrown tech in Msia to stay ahead of the AI race

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia must invest in its homegrown technologies within the artificial intelligence (AI) industry to maintain competitiveness and avoid being outpaced by foreign companies, says an AI expert.

Founder and CEO of Ever AI Technologies Dr Sai Chong Yeh said failure to act now would result in large companies outside the country dominating a substantial share of the future productivity and value derived from AI technology.

There is also the larger problem of data privacy, given that a majority of AI models are owned by corporations such as Microsoft, Facebook and Google. “Instead of relying on foreign technologies which are typically priced in U.S. dollars, there should be more support to grow our own technology,” he told Astro AWANI at the side-lines of the Energy Asia conference 2023, which took place from June 26 to 28.

Sai said the utilisation of AI would improve operational efficiency and eliminate repetitive jobs for many firms. Within the energy industry, AI could play a crucial role in equipment quality detection and ensuring the use of safety gear by all personnel through image processing.

“There are also more conventional approaches, called traditional machine learning, that can be used to improve efficiency. For example, doing a predictive analysis on energy requirements.
“Then you can plan your operations wisely to generate the maximum efficiency. This kind of AI can typically help improve operations by 5 to 10 per cent,” explained Sai.

However, he noted that the adoption rate remained low, with only large corporations in the country currently investing in AI. This was mainly due to issues surrounding cost and the return on investment, particularly for smaller firms.

“The primary concern will always be the return on investment. Does it justify their investment based on the scale of the business that they are doing?” Another setback, said Sai, was the general fear of AI due to lack of understanding and expertise of this technology.

He emphasised the need to develop more local talent to encourage mass adoption of AI moving forward. “Training more young people to be in this field of technology, especially in AI technology, is definitely something that the government or ministries should focus on at this moment.”


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