How do you use technology/policy to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation.

The Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) is a government department tasked with developing and implementing policies which improve the lives of citizens and strengthen national competitiveness, using science and ICT development.

I am currently in charge of data promotion policy in the Ministry’s AI Policy Bureau, and my team’s main mission is to revitalise Korea’s data economy. We have recently finished developing several strategic projects designed to complete this mission, including the establishment of sectoral Big Data Platforms, the distribution of “Data Vouchers” to support SMEs and others, and the minimisation of regulations that might hinder data utilisation across industry and the public sector. These strategies will be officially enacted in revised data laws expected to pass before the end of this year.

What has been the most exciting thing that you worked on in 2019?

Following the President’s 2018 declaration of his ambition to make Korea a data-driven society, my colleagues and I have been putting the idea into practice this year by building a strong and successful partnership for AI development between public and private sectors. It has been exciting. Even more exciting is looking forward to the practical outcomes from our work that we expect next year.

What is the best thing you have experienced in your career?

In a previous role I was in charge of cloud computing policy and promotion, working together with the Ministry of Land and Transport on a smart city project. By 2018, we had created a secure citizen-oriented smart city service, using cloud computing to provide more efficient monitoring and faster response systems at lower cost.

If you were to share one piece of advice that you learned in 2019, what would it be?

It would be that “convergence” really matters. In every area of technology development, convergence between technologies and industry, between competencies and across disciplines is what drives good practice and great ideas.

What tool or technique particularly interests you for 2020?

Artificial Intelligence. We are already living in a world of machine learning and AI. Our lives are already changing dramatically. The AI revolution will only speed up in 2020 and beyond.

What are your priorities for 2020?

The priority for me and my team is to help create social and economic spaces where citizens of the “data driven society” can live more conveniently, safely, and happily. This is not just about promoting AI adoption. It also means working on the new ethical issues and educational needs ensuing from the AI revolution.

What is one challenge you would like to take on in 2020?

I want to cooperate with other government ministries to design some new digital convergence projects which apply AI and big data technologies to the fields of cultural content, digital healthcare, and environment protection. I would also like to strengthen global cooperation in the area of AI and big data.

What has been your fondest memory from the past year?

I really appreciated the opportunity to make new good friends while organising last year’s International AI Conference. It was a privilege to meet many AI experts from various countries including China, Singapore, the U.S., Canada, and France – most of whom I am still in contact with. I wish these and other dear friends a happy year-end and a wonderful new year.