Photo: (From left) Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Haji Mohammad Najib Razak with Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) Chairman Tan Sri Sidek Hassan and CEO Datuk Yasmin Mahmood.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the potent emerging technologies on the cusp of going mainstream, and will add to the disruption faced by the Digital Economy in Malaysia, according to Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).
In this two-part special 2017 feature, MDEC's chief executive officer Datuk Yasmin Mahmood noted that: "We can talk about AI all day long - and people have been talking about AI since I was in school."
"However, AI now has become very real. Even I was sceptical about it initially - but when I went to do some research, I discovered that much of it is becoming a reality! We already have robots currently being developed for many different purposes," Yasmin added.
She gave several examples of how AI was being brought to the mainstream to help people in general.
"One way it will affect our lives is in the area of customer service. The up and coming 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will see these robots becoming present everywhere to provide customer service for the expected crowds. Meanwhile in China, Alibaba has teamed up with KFC by using facial recognition to pay for your purchases - you want to buy, and then you just walk out."
The MDEC chief also showed a video about a similar type of service provided by Amazon called Amazon Go. "It's very similar to what you see there - it is about technology that is able to identify how far you are away from the goods. When you take the goods and walk out of the door, the system knows that you have purchased those particular goods - and you will just get billed through your e-wallet. This is going to be reality, this is going to be mainstream in a very short period of time."
Another way that AI would be helpful is through robot-human interaction, in many fields including health and education.
"AI will be a means for traumatised children to interact and heal, where they will initially be more comfortable dealing with robots rather than direct human contact. The scope for use of AI as educational tools is also strong," Yasmin continued, showing another video about Sophia, a humanoid robot developed by Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics, to illustrate her point.
"This is another manifestation of what we call 'bots.' Siri is a perfect example of this, of bots that are going to be implemented in almost everything - in your email, in the way eCommerce is run, and much more."