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Artificial intelligence

S.Korea kicks off AI strategy talks with Naver, Kakao, Samsung, telcos

Korea joins the global race for artificial superintelligence by putting together all public and private resources

By Sep 08, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

South Korea's first AI Strategy Summit with science minister and CEOs of Naver, Kakao and telecom firms.
South Korea's first AI Strategy Summit with science minister and CEOs of Naver, Kakao and telecom firms.

South Korean government has hosted the first top-level artificial intelligence (AI) roundtable meeting with representatives from the country’s tech giants and telecom companies.

The Ministry of Science and ICT on Sept. 7 held the first series of CEO-level AI strategy talks with chief executives Han Seong-sook of Naver Corp., Yeo Min-soo of Kakao Corp., Park Jung-ho of SK Telecom Co., Koo Hyun-mo of KT Corp. and Hwang Hyun-sik of LG Uplus. Samsung Electronics Co.’s Global AI Center chief Daniel Lee was also present at the meeting.

“AI is an all-purpose technology that will largely determine a country’s competitiveness in the areas of economy and national security. South Korea, which lacks the amount of data and computing infrastructure compared to China and the US, must concentrate all resources under a strategic public-private alliance,” said the Ministry of Science and ICT’s head of AI policy bureau Song Kyung-hee.

Public-private partnerships in the AI sector has been active in the US as well. The country in 2018 established the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) as an advisory committee to the President and Congress. The NSCAI, currently headed by the former Google CEO Eric Schmidt with Amazon and Oracle chiefs as members, submitted a report to the Congress in March recommending the US to ramp up non-national security AI R&D expenditure from $1.5 billion in 2021 to $32 billion by 2026.

South Korea will hold its AI strategy roundtable meetings every six months. Topics to be covered include AI semiconductor and cloud development, public-private collaboration in fostering AI talents, digital healthcare, and AI robot-driven services.  

Yesterday’s meeting centered around setting up an ecosystem of artificial superintelligence (ASI), which is a type of AI with an extremely large number of parameters that are equivalent to our brain synapses. Such a large number of parameters enables the AI to dramatically increase its computing capabilities and also widens application areas.

The competition for ASI technology was kicked off last year by the Elon Musk-founded US company Open AI that revealed GPT-3 with a capacity of 175 billion machine learning parameters. Google revealed a model with 1.6 trillion parameters this year, while the Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence also unveiled its own model with 1.75 parameters in June.

South Korea’s ASI research is led by Naver as well as each of the three telecom firms. But experts say that there are technical and financial limits for a company to develop advanced ASI services alone without partnership. The participants at the meeting raised a unified voice that an ecosystem of collaboration must be put in place to further advance technologies in the field.

The government said it will provide computing infrastructure for the companies to develop ASI technologies and kick off new R&D initiatives in the field as well.

“The government will provide all support for the country’s public and private sectors to level up its AI competitiveness in the global scene,” said the science minister Lim Hye-sook.

Write to Min-jun Suh at

Daniel Cho edited this article.

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