Vietnam’s AI and the middle-income trap

10:56 | 26/03/2019 Science - Technology

(VEN) - Vietnam Economic News’ Thu Phuong and Quynh Nga spoke with FPT Chairman Truong Gia Binh about the development of Vietnam’s digital economy.

vietnams ai and the middle income trap
FPT Chairman Truong Gia Binh

Given the fourth industrial revolution, the application of digital technologies into economic development has become indispensable. How do you assess the development of Vietnam’s digital economy?

We have much to say about the fourth industrial revolution. Despite its potential, Vietnam still faces many limitations. Archimedes said, “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” Nowadays, it can be said that, “Give me artificial intelligence (AI), I would get Vietnam out of the middle income trap.” AI is the most critical element in the digital transformation of the fourth industrial revolution, and Vietnam sees potential in this area.

The success of AI depends on data. Without data, there is no AI. How is Vietnam doing in this respect?

Together with a delegation from the Vietnamese Government Office, we visited some leading digital economies in the world, such as Estonia. It is a small country with limited infrastructure, industry and mineral resources, but it has risen to become one of the world’s most developed digital societies.

The most fundamental issue is open data that can create favorable conditions for people and businesses to exploit. In Vietnam, data is unclear and not standardized. It can be said that we have data, but we cannot use it.

This issue should be anchored in laws and government regulations. Currently, we do not have a law on open data and protection of personal information.

With large corporations like FPT, studying AI and big data is a must. What has FPT done to collect, analyze and use data?

As a national service company, we have built a comprehensive AI platform. Currently, there are four million users per month and we supply four main products - conversation, speech, vision, and knowledge. We are trying to gather data to serve the community.

vietnams ai and the middle income trap

Vietnam faces fierce competition from multinational corporations such as Google and Facebook. What are Vietnam’s advantages and disadvantages in the development of AI and big data?

My personal opinion is that we should not confront the giant corporations, but rather try to resolve the problems that Vietnamese people have and provide what they need. In addition, Vietnamese startups must be more creative and innovative to seek development opportunities in the current context.

AI is actually a version of mathematics. In this regard, Vietnam has an advantage, proven by its high rankings in international math competitions. Currently, the world has about 22,000 data specialists, of which 5,000 are high-level ones.

According to incomplete statistics, Vietnam accounts for nearly one-tenth. However, promoting these advantages and helping Vietnam move faster in the digital economy is really a challenge.

Fast digital transformation leads to the risk of job losses. What do you think about this problem?

It’s true. According to some reports, three out of four Vietnamese are at the risk of losing their jobs in the near future. This problem is not only in Vietnam but also throughout the world. In the United States, people are advised not to study law and accounting at universities. Why? Because in major auditing and consultancy groups in the world, 85 percent of the work is done by machines, which are a threat.

Thu Phuong & Quynh Nga