Efforts to bolster the development of the nation’s artificial intelligence sector are gaining momentum following the announcement of plans to establish the Taiwan AI Labs later this year in Taipei City, according to the Ministry of Science and Technology April 27.
A privately funded research organization, the new facility will aim to integrate AI expertise and resources from the academic, public and private sectors. Funding for the initiative is being provided by local enterprises and investors including MediaTek Inc., a leading global fabless semiconductor firm based in northern Taiwan’s Hsinchu City.
MOST Minister Chen Liang-gee said the lab will help strengthen AI expertise and innovation-based growth in line with major state investments in digital infrastructure. The government plans to allocate NT$5 billion (US$167 million) toward building AI servers and promoting tech talent cultivation under the Cabinet’s eight-year Forward-looking Infrastructure Program.
The Taiwan AI Labs will be headed by Ethan Tu, a former senior researcher at U.S.-based tech giant Microsoft Corp. He is well-known in his home country for creating the PTT bulletin board, a text-based communication platform that has grown into one of Taiwan’s most influential online forums since its launch in 1995.
According to Tu, Taiwan boasts wide-ranging experience in computer hardware as well as rapidly blossoming expertise in software development. By leveraging these advantages, the lab will seek to secure a central role for Taiwan in the global AI sector, he said, adding that it is currently recruiting experts in fields such as cloud services, mobile applications and speech and image recognition.
Minister without Portfolio Audrey Tang, a noted computer programmer and digital entrepreneur, described AI as one of the key emerging technology fields alongside big data and 3-D printing. She expressed hope that the new facility will help promote AI technology integration at local academic institutions, nongovernmental organizations and small and medium enterprises through data exchange and open source projects.
Tang said the government is committed to fostering the next generation of tech innovators. Besides talent cultivation initiatives under the FIP, plans are underway to incorporate digital learning programs into new curriculum guidelines for elementary and high schools across the country, she added.
Unveiled last month by the Executive Yuan, the FIP is aimed at stimulating growth and driving Taiwan’s industrial transformation over the next 30 years. Budgeted at NT$880 billion, it spans five main areas: digital infrastructure, railways, renewable energy, urban-rural development and water resources, and is forecast to add NT$975.9 billion to the country’s real gross domestic product over eight years while creating up to 50,000 new jobs. (KTJ-E)
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