The use of artificial intelligence (AI) and big data offers untapped opportunities for Thailand. In particular it has enormous potential to contribute to ‘Thailand 4.0’, a new value-based economic model driven by innovation, technology and creativity that is expected to unlock the country from economic challenges resulting from previous economic development models (agriculture – Thailand 1.0, light industry – Thailand 2.0, and heavy industry – Thailand 3.0), the ‘middle income trap’, and the ‘inequality trap’.
A core aspect of ‘Thailand 4.0’ puts emphasis on developing new S-curve industries, which includes investing in digital, robotics, and the regional medical hub.
Today, the digital economy – with extensive use of AI and big data – is growing at a pace that far exceeds the global economy.
In just the last few years we have seen the development of AI systems capable of processing enormous amounts of increasingly complex data at ever increasing speed, with terabytes of data being generated globally every 60 seconds.
At the same time the costs of IT infrastructure has been declining. Thirty years ago, it cost more than $560 to store 1GB of data; now it costs less than $0.01.
Coupled with better analytics capabilities more real-world information is available for policy and decision makers than ever before.
AI and big data Enhancing human development
AI is already being used extensively in the private sector for commercial and profit-making purposes, including forecasting demand, predicting churns, suggesting advertisements on social media platforms, and recommending products to potential buyers.
However, not many people realise that AI and big data can also be used to enhance human development and to address many developmental and social challenges. A few examples of how AI can enhance human development incude:
- Analysing vast quantities of healthcare data, leading to scientific breakthroughs
- Predicting and identifying optimal budget allocation for effective and cost-effective interventions to achieve a government’s goal
- Revolutionise classrooms by providing individual learning pathways and virtual mentors
- Mapping poverty from space, enabling real-time resource allocation
- Predicting and identifying optimal production levels to reduce waste
- Making available ‘Uber-like’ sharing services for tractors and refrigeration, providing poorer farmers with access to the services that they need only at certain times of the year
- Producing models capable of predicting climate-related disasters
- Tracking the movement of fishing boats to combat illegal fishing
- Predicting consumption patterns for efficient and safe water provisions
- Driving more balanced hiring practices and spotlighting gender inequality
While we know that AI and big data can help drive exponential innovation, their use is currently limited. Despite terabytes of data being generated every minute, only 1 per cent of this data is being used or analysed. Public sector use of big data analytics and AI is the lowest.
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